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Is Print Advertising Still Effective?

Is Print Advertising Still Effective?


We’ve noticed a belief form in our advertisers over the past several months: Print media is dead!

In an effort to enlighten, not sway our advertisers, we’d like to share with you a bit of insight locally and globally.


Roger Fidler is a forefather of digital journalism. In the early 1980s, he wrote and illustrated an essay on the future of news. The idea he spoke of most was one Steve Jobs would have many years later—a tablet on which to read electronic newspapers. In Fidler’s vision of the future, news and information were headed to the nascent internet, where stories would be instantly published from one computer to millions more, eliminating the need to operate an expensive press run by expensive workers. Readers could click on boxes that revealed data or more information about a particular subject. Advertisers could produce immersive, interactive ads.


Now, Fidler wonders if he was wrong. “I have come to realize that replicating print in a digital device is much more difficult than what anybody, including me, imagined,” he says in an interview with Columbia Journalism Review. Fidler is equally concerned about the reading experience and economics of all forms of digital news. The idea of interactive advertising has clearly not panned out, he says. Readers are annoyed and distracted by it, so many block it with browser extensions. He and others have observed that print offers a limited amount of ad space, which is infinite online, driving down ad prices and sending publishers racing around a hamster wheel. To make money, they need more content to advertise against. Some of this content is—how to put this?—lousy, giving readers another reason not to pay for news.


Two decades have passed since magazines and newspapers launched websites, and yet here we are. Big publications have gone under, thousands of journalists have lost their jobs, and the idea that digital news will eventually become a decent business feels like a rumour.


The reality is this: No app, no streamlined website, no “vertical integration,” no social network, no algorithm, no Apple, no Apple Newsstand, no paywall, no soft paywall, no targeted ad, no mobile-first strategy has come close to matching the success of print in revenue or readership.


Iris Chyi, a University of Texas associate professor and new media researcher, has been collecting facts to support these assertions. Like me, Chyi is not anti-technology. She enjoys her travels around the Web. But looking at reader metrics nearly a decade later, it became clear to Chyi that online penetration and engagement weren’t growing. This got her wondering, like Fidler, whether printed publications were pursuing a future that would never come. She has come to believe that the digital shift has been a disaster for media organizations, and that there is no evidence online news will ever be economically or culturally viable. “They have killed print, their core product, with all of their focus online,” Chyi told Columbia Journalism Review in an interview.


Chyi writes that “the (supposedly dying) print edition still outperforms the (supposedly hopeful) digital product by almost every standard, be it readership, engagement, advertising revenue,” and especially willingness to actually pay for the product.  In a paper published earlier this year, Chyi examined data collected by Scarborough, a market research firm owned by Nielsen, for the 51 largest US newspapers, finding that the print edition reaches 28 percent of circulation areas, while the digital version reaches just 10 percent. Digital readers don’t linger. Pew Research Center data shows that readers coming directly to news sites stay less than five minutes. Readers coming from Facebook are gone in less than two minutes.



Print advertising uses physically printed media to reach out to prospective customers and other potential business associates. To reach the desired target audience, this form of advertising uses:

  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Coupons sent by mail
  • Fliers
  • Billboards



From startups and small businesses to Fortune 500 companies include print advertising as an important arsenal in their marketing campaign.

Consider the following to determine the effectiveness of print advertising:

Print ads are processed with greater focus and engagement, while also triggering a deeper emotional response, than ads viewed on a screen

  • according to neuroscience research quoted by Forbes.

The response rate for direct mailers is 3.4%. Sounds low? Not when you compare it to the response rate for emailers, at merely 0.12%

  • according to a report cited by AZ Central, USA Today Network.

Effectiveness of Print Ads

Here are some statistics that highlight the effectiveness of print ads in the digital era:



Here’s why companies are dedicating resources to print ads:

  • Print media can target audience with very specific interests. There are magazines that are popular in very specific niches.
  • Print media has a high perceived value among its enthusiasts.
  • Print media is often able to grab the undivided attention of its readers.
  • Readers of branded print magazines spend an average of 25 minutes on them.
  • Print ads in newspapers and magazines targeting readers who have spent money for the content. So, their attention spans and engagement levels are higher.



It’s important to track and measure how your print ads are performing in order to facilitate decision making related to your marketing camping. Tracking the engagement and conversions triggered by your print ads can help you optimize your future campaigns.

The effectiveness of print ads can be tracked online. This can be achieved using:

  • Unique Promo Codes: Use a unique code in your print ads that offer a discount. Whenever this code is used, you know that the audience has viewed the print ad.
  • Discount Coupon: If you’ve mailed coupons that need to be shown at the store to be eligible for a discount, these can be recorded and tracked.
  • Landing Page: Create a landing page and share the link of that page only in your print ads. You can track the traffic visiting this page to know how effective your print efforts have been. However, you’ll need to give an incentive to people for visiting the page.
  • Unique Phone Number: Share a phone number in your print ads and track the number of calls you receive. Here, too, you’ll need to give people an incentive for calling.
  • QR Codes: Including QR codes in your print ads not only allows you to track their effectiveness but also gives you a chance to get your contact details into the customer’s phone. Yes, a QR code can hold details like your company name, phone number, address, and email ID.
  • Surveys: You could simply ask your customers where they first heard about your company.
  • How to Create Effective Print Ads
  • Here are some things to keep in mind to create print ads that get results:
  • Headline: Focus purely on grabbing attention. The only aim is to encourage people to read more.
  • Visuals: Make it as visually stimulating as possible. One can use illustrations, photographs, clip art, geometric shapes or even abstract images.
  • Copy: This needs to be compelling. At the same time, it should complement the visuals. The artwork and text should tell the same story or convey the same message.
  • Keep it simple: Avoid cluttering the ad with too many elements. Done correctly, a simple ad can be more impactful.
  • Use white spaces: Ads overstuffed with images and text can be overwhelming and confusing.
  • Create for the target audience: Keep the demographics, interest and any other specifications of the target audience in mind when creating the ad.
  • Call to action: Remember to include a call to action and make it clear and compelling. Combining this with an offer can get better results, like a discount, a contest with a prize or a free gift.
  • Contact details: Include all the details one would need to contact you or purchase the product/service.


At AGRIFOODSA we always endeavour to offer our clients the optimal tools to advertise their businesses, so whilst platforms such as the AGRIFOODSA.INFO online directory, social media and direct mail in the form of newsletters have proven to be highly effective, print media is alive, well, and still outperforming all other platforms.




Looking to enhance your print and online advertising strategy? Contact us today so we can assist you in reaching your target audience.

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We’ve noticed a belief form in our advertisers over the past several months: Print media is dead!