We often get asked about traditional advertising, like print, but also TV and cinema. Many businesses worry about advertising in traditional newspapers, magazines, or trade press. They feel unsure, and sometimes even embarrassed, to be considering these types of platforms to advertise.

They will often say to us things like “print has worked for us in the past, but no one seems to be doing it anymore,” or “Everyone says I should be putting all my marketing budget into online advertising but I’m just not sure.”

The truth of it is print advertising has experienced a steady decline over the last ten years. in 2000, spending on advertising in newspapers peaked at $68 billion annually, but this value has quickly and steadily declined ever since. Advertising spending in newspapers fell to $18.3 billion in 2016. Since 2013, print ad revenue (as adjusted for inflation) has fallen below its spending levels from 1950, when the industry started tracking ad revenue.

Certainly, digital advertising is fast to do and easy to change with short lead times. There is a control and flexibility that digital advertising brings that has lots of advantages. Also, the barrier to entry is really low.

But, and there is a big but, good marketing is all about engagement. Brands want to connect with customers’ eyes, brains, and eventually their loyal hearts, so building engagement is a key objective. And print advertising provides an opportunity for consumers to stop and consider. Equally, the move to long-form content in magazines, trade mags, or newspapers provides an opportunity to deeply connect with customers, to inspire or educate them.

So in our view, print advertising is far from a thing of the past, but as in all good marketing, the key thing is to deeply understand your target market and their media consumption habits, and match your advertising spend to where your audience will best see it.

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