Staying power: the industry on print’s value

Ben Rose, Stuff general manager of newspapers

The numbers speak for themselves. For Kiwi consumers, print remains a trusted and preferred source of information – one that’s authentic and memorable.

And yet, while there are many marketers who understand this and benefit from this powerful medium, many do not. Often, particularly among bigger brands and in some agencies, the power and potency of print as an advertising medium is questioned (and sometimes completely disregarded). Those same newspaper titles, which so reliably draw consumers’ attention, account for a mere fraction of total media spend invested on behalf of national brands by their media advisors.

While these attitudes towards print are common, they are by no means universal – and print media still counts some of the world’s brightest and most highly respected creative minds among its biggest supporters. I reached out to a number of those individuals to get their perspective on the value of print today, and here’s what they said:

Print is still one of the greatest mediums there is. No other medium is quite as personal, as immersive, as informative and (when the content is right) as inspirational. Without question one of the greatest initiatives of my marketing career at Airbnb was the launch of the Airbnb magazine. It has been a brilliant success and what makes it so is the power of storytelling that the print medium helps to liberate.” – Former Airbnb and Coca-cola Global CMO Jonathan Mildenhall, named one of the world’s most influential CMOs by Forbes in 2017.

Print is critical to provide news to people who aren’t spending hours staring at screens. In the developed world, print has evolved from a news source into an experience – it has become mindful, ritualistic. A culture magazine for a long flight, the weekend supplements with a coffee, the distraction of a free paper on your commute. I’d concede that online has taken over in immediacy and breaking news, but print has its place in the world.” – Kat Thomas, Global PR agency, One Green Bean.

For me, what print has that no other medium has is context and longevity. Direct Mail doesn’t have it; I see the ad but no-one else does. TV doesn’t have it, it’s gone in 30 seconds. Posters don’t have it, I never know where they’re going to run. But with print, I know exactly where it will run. And I know exactly who the audience is: who else will be reading it at the same time I am. Context means the same ad appears differently if it’s in The Sun or The Sunday Times. In fact, the context is so important that the same ad probably won’t work in The Sun or the Sunday Times. And for creatives, it’s also a simple emotional attachment. A print ad is tangible, I can hold it exactly the way it’ll run, I can’t do that with online, TV, or posters.” – Dave Trott, D&AD President’s Award Lifetime Winner and creative industry legend.

Jonathan Mildenhall, Kat Thomas, Dave Trott, Philip Thomas, John Hunt

Print remains a crucial platform for nearly all major advertisers. Not only is it the mothership from which all other related activities spring, but it is of course a thing of beauty in itself, and a wonderfully immersive experience in its own right. People have been reading printed matter for hundreds of years, and they will continue to do so well into the future.” – Philip Thomas, chair of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

The most enduring quality of print is its permanence. In a world of nano-second communication and finger flicking visuals, print holds the page. And, therefore, your attention. It has a unique embedded quality to it. A certain stickiness. If what you’re looking at is interesting or artful, it’s like a tattoo on your brain.” – John Hunt, global creative chairman at TBWA.

When it comes to sheer reach, immersion and “staying power”, few channels deliver on marketing objectives as well as print – and that will be the case as long as news outlets are investing in quality journalism that attracts consumers.

It’s a core part of our strategy at Stuff, with our titles reaching 2.6 million people per month. That was validated at the recent Voyager Media Awards, where we were proud to take home a suite of awards including Newspaper of the Year for the Sunday Star-Times, Best Newspaper for the Waikato Times and The Press as runner-up Best Newspaper in its category – as well as acknowledgements for feature writing, sports reporting and breaking news coverage (among others).

To paraphrase another global creative heavyweight, Sir John Hegarty, storytelling is an incredibly important part of our experience – and despite the explosion and proliferation of technology, we all still love a good tale.

Print complements digital, and vice versa. The idea, and what’s communicated as part of that process is ultimately what’s most critical, regardless of the medium.

This story is part of a content partnership between Stuff and StopPress.

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