Print Media: Dead or Just Dying?

Print Media: Dead or Just Dying?

Is print dead? It’s a question marketers of all persuasions ask themselves from time to time, whether they believe in the power of the printed word or choose to funnel all their advertising dollars into online options.

Here at, we’ve argued the case for online advertising over print a few times now. But the question is, do the stats really show that online advertising is the future? Or have the reports of print’s death been greatly exaggerated?

A few days ago, marketing analytics company Outsell published new US-based figures that sent a chill through the print industry. Vice president and lead analyst Chuck Richard summed up the results: “For the first time, advertisers plan to spend more on digital and online marketing and advertising (in 2010), 32.5 percent of the total, than on print, 30.3 percent, an industry milestone crossover event.”

As the Financial Times explains, Outsell surveyed 1,000 advertisers to predict that online spending will rise 9.6 percent to US$119.6 billion, while print spending will fall 3 percent to $111.5 billion.

“Advertisers are directing dollars toward the channels which generate the most qualified leads and most effective branding,” Richard explains. ”As they emerge from the recession, they need more accountability, and they’re spreading their spending over a widening set of options.”

In an interview with, Ad Age digital lead editor Michael Learmonth argued that Outsell was simply putting a date on something that was always on the cards. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s 2010, 2011 — it’s going to happen,” he said.

In fact, the trend away from print advertising has already gathered speed in both Australia and the UK. reported back in October that the Australian online ad industry is set to take away over a billion dollars from traditional media over the next four years. In the UK, the Internet Advertising Bureau saw online taking over from TV in terms of ad spend as early as September.

So, if everyone is moving their advertising dollars online, does print media have a future? The magazine industry thinks so, and has just released a new print-based campaign of its own to prove it. The ad, complete with a picture of olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, compares the print experience to swimming while maintaining we can only ever “surf” online:

It’s a lovely analogy, but the problem for real estate advertisers is that a print property listing offers an experience less like swimming and more like skimming stones. These days, property hunters are getting used to all the extra information they can find online: neighbourhood facts, Street View photos, mortgage broker contact details - the list goes on. At most, a print listing alerts people to the fact that a property is on the market, or was a few days ago.

Despite all this, the latest HomeGain survey shows some real estate agents are still keen to put money into print advertising in 2010. Does this mean agents are still seeing return-on-investment from print options? Or simply that vendors don’t feel comfortable unless their property is in the paper? Whatever the reason, our advice is always to track where your advertising dollars are going and what effect they’re having, so you can fine-tune your advertising strategy to get the best possible results.

3 Comments to Print Media: Dead or Just Dying?

  1. March 18, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I think that print media won’t die completely. Of course people will keep reading magazines and newspapepers. It is still much better read newspapers than anything on tiny iPhone screen. But will buyers look for properties in print media? Will somemone rush to get a local paper to see what’s on market? I don’t think so. People will go online where research is much easier and better. Other thing which goes against print and TV media is how to monitor/measure success? It is very hard. In online world it is very easy, you just need some Analytics tool.

  2. March 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Michael, currently the ‘experience’ of reading a magazine is better than a device currently. But it is basically a hardware issue that will be solved in time. How long is the question, but I would think in the 10-20 year time frame (conservatively) we will have devices that are essentially like a magazine but electronic.

  3. March 19, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I personally don’t think news-print will die for quite some time. Reading from your computer just doesn’t have the same homely feel as sitting on the balcony reading the Sunday paper.

    As for real estate - well that is a different story. A print ad is just the starting point & very expensive for so little information.

    The internet allows virtual floorplans, videos, photos, more text, open times, recent sales in the area, walk scores, google maps - it basically gives you all the tools you need to really determine a properties suitability

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