Print v digital Title Media www.titlemedia.co.uk

It’s not a new fight by any stretch of the imagination, but the hot topic of which medium holds the most sway remains a feisty ongoing debate within the publishing industry. Indeed, as smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices show no signs of slowing in their popularity or influence, many have written off the influence of traditional print newspapers and magazines.

But is that a little premature? Is there still a place for both hard copies and hyperlinks? Room enough for printed pages and digital page impressions? The National Readership Survey seems to think so, as the numbers don’t lie in its most recent reports.

WE STILL LOVE PRINT
According to the NRS, 94% of adults in Britain today consume their news brands and magazines across print, PC and mobile platforms – that’s 49.3million people, to be precise, all making use of a variety of old and new devices. Breaking these figures down, 74% read a print newspaper or magazine, while 76% turn to PCs or mobile devices for their news and magazine editorial.

So, on the face of it, it would seem that print is in fact not faring quite as badly as we might have been led to believe in recent years. In some cases, digital is actually taking a backseat, not just in terms of website development, but also for social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which have been widely demonised in the press for their addictive, abusive or potentially dangerous impact on users.

Wetherspoon announced that it was closing all of its social media channels, citing trolling, misuse of personal data, and its addictive nature

DITCHING DIGITAL
As recently as last month, in fact, pub chain juggernaut JD Wetherspoon announced that it was closing all of its social media channels, citing bad publicity surrounding trolling, misuse of personal data, and its addictive nature. So, has this mentality been extended elsewhere? In a recent interview with BBC News, a representative from PrintUK.com put across his case for the value of the print medium.

“The paperless office never came to fruition,” he said. “People typically want to see, feel and hold something tactile; it’s viewed as being far more trustworthy than its digital counterparts. Paper and print has longevity and authority, and it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without it. It’s all around us and plays a vital role in the marketing mix.”

In the interview, PrintUK explained that the biggest printing and paper demand comes from the USA, which has a $200billion value of printing output, followed swiftly by China with $150billion. The UK, meanwhile, is the world’s fifth largest producer of printed products, with a $50billion value of printed products.

Background metrics have totally changed the game in terms of how publishers and advertisers can see, track and interact with their users

MEASURING YOUR AUDIENCES
Of course, what neither magazines nor newspapers can deliver on quite as accurately or succinctly as websites is the precise reach and impact that they’re having. Tools such as Google Analytics, Sprout Social and background metrics have totally changed the game in terms of how publishers and advertisers can see, track and interact with their users and customers.

With pinpoint accuracy, not only can digital influencers survey the landscape, but they can also better shape and shift it too, utilising SEO and metrics techniques to further their understanding of what readers want, and manipulate that desire by tailoring their content accordingly – something that the newspaper and magazine sector could only dream of until recently. But XX has an answer for that too.

75% of consumers will act upon direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% who act upon an email

“The printing industry is ever-evolving, as is the marketing and advertising industry,” he said. “With advancements in technology, print has become far more accessible to businesses globally. Demand comes from all sectors, especially retail, whereby the use of personalised direct mail is incredibly influential, as its estimated 75% of consumers will act upon direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% who act upon an email.

“Large global retailers such as IKEA rely heavily on print magazines to bolster sales and reach stakeholders, as it provides trust, validity and personality, with the branding being in situ. Paper prices have risen significantly in the last year (pulp price $670 per tonne in December 2016, to $1,030 per tonne now and rising), due primarily to strong domestic demand, which highlights that print and paper isn’t dying.”

There’s still something real and lovely about print – whether it’s a beautifully crafted business card on sexy stock or the fresh smell of a printed magazine

SO ACTUALLY THERE’S ROOM FOR BOTH
It seems, then, that print and digital can potentially work in tandem. But what of the widespread reports of print as a dying industry? As nationals downsized, cut costs or closed up shop altogether over the last decade, many naysayers believed that print had had its day, and that the inevitable decline was a foregone conclusion.

It would seem that this is far from the case, however, as it’s not just the romance and tradition of the smell of ink that’s keeping print alive; it’s the level of integrity, authority and tangibility that comes with holding information in one’s hands that’s making it just as relevant in today’s modern world.

Here at Title Media we love both. The transparency and speed that digital offers is unbeatable, as well as the opportunity it offers with regards to audience insights. But there’s still something real and lovely about print – whether it’s a beautifully crafted business card on sexy stock or the fresh smell of a printed magazine.

Keep an open mind folks.

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Print vs. Digital: Is there still a future for paper?
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