Does the Future of Marketing Lie in the Print of the Past?
Many have made the claim that marketing has entered a digital era and that print is no more. Those in the know, however, maintain that traditional hardcopy advertising still fulfills an irreplaceable role, and the evidence seems to back them up.
While it’s undeniable that digital outreach is spreading like wildfire, print marketing is unlikely to give up the ghost anytime soon. In fact, scores of marketing insiders believe that as the digital arena expands, print will enter an unprecedented new era of prosperity to match. Here are some of the reasons why and a few of the ways traditional print might develop in the coming decades.
Science Says There’s Always Going to Be a Place for Paper
According to neuromarketing experts, the difference between print and digital goes farther than the medium itself. Studies reveal that from a cognitive standpoint, paper-based marketing is actually easier for audiences to process than its digital counterparts are. 
The Value of Sensory Stimulation
In one experiment, researchers used measurement techniques like eye-tracking and EEG scanning to understand how people’s brains reacted when they were exposed to digital and printed ads. Interestingly, they discovered that audiences had an easier time absorbing direct mail and recalling the brands it contained later on.
Because physical marketing content is tactile and more firmly grounded in reality, it may be easier for people to remember. It might also be associated with stronger emotional responses that indicate that marketers are making deeper, lasting connections with consumers.
A Subconscious Bias?
In 2015, a similar assay was conducted by Temple University researchers on behalf of the U.S. Post Office. It discovered that although people were able to process digital ads quickly, they stayed engaged longer when they were presented with physical options. This gives you more time to make an impact.
A week after being exposed to the ads, subjects still demonstrated higher emotional responses for the physical options. Viewing print ads was also associated with more neural activity in regions of the brain that are believed to correlate with concepts like subconscious value and desire.
These studies also confirmed the idea that the majority of people don’t express an overwhelming preference for print or digital advertisements. Nonetheless, their brains definitely take note of the difference.
The Current State of Print
Historically, print has been a relatively stable marketing channel. In modern times, the promise of wild riches associated with digital channels has led some companies to abandon print entirely, and at first glance, younger, monied audiences seem to be rewarding them for these decisions. A closer look, however, shows that instead of receding into obscurity, printed advertising is merely in the midst of a major transition.
Many of the people who claim that print is dead are referring to newspapers, which have admittedly been hit hard. It’s important not to conflate this kind of informational content with all forms of digital marketing. While consumers might prefer to find out what’s going on in the world around them by checking their smartphones and laptops, many actively resist the creeping encroachment of ads in such spaces.
Sources like the Atlantic point out that online, it’s all too easy to overwhelm consumers with content, especially when you’re competing for views on platforms like Facebook or eBay. According to Nielsen,’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising Report, when it comes to paid advertising, consumers place more faith in traditional techniques.
Surprisingly, traditional media even engenders high levels of trust among the notorious millennial generation. Various forms of print media, like billboards, newspapers and magazines, significantly outpace online banner, video, social media and mobile phone ads. If there’s a lesson to take away from this, it’s that even if you stake out a home within the digital ecosystem, you should also make a place for your brand in the real world.
Where Is Print Marketing Headed?
The future looks good for print marketing, but as people become more engaged with diverse content, you’ll need to adjust your mindset to keep up. Try these suggestions:
Improve on Integrations
Marketing uniformly is crucial to ensuring the success of any outreach effort. Instead of publishing digital and print content independently, use tools that allow you to correlate and share assets between concurrent campaigns.
Mobile marketing research demonstrates that around 83 percent of mobile consumers demand a seamless experience across multiple digital devices. Use coordinated print planning to ensure that their consumption of your content transitions into the real world without a snag.
Make Your Print Ads Interactive
By supplementing your paper marketing with QR codes, NFC technology and homogenous content, you can establish your brand as a stronger presence that even helps you track impressions. Of course, why stop there when you can go even further with printed materials that incorporate native interactivity?
In 2012, for instance, Procter & Gamble joined other companies by inserting a video ad in Marie Claire magazine. Two years later, Motorola put out an interactive ad that let people change the color of one of its phones by touching a page in Wired magazine.
Technologies like PrintScreen may soon allow you to print custom, flexible, touch-responsive displays on a wide variety of papers and surfaces. Interactive ads are becoming more sophisticated, and marketers should definitely get on board early.
Cater to People’s Passions
Finally, you might just want to try branching out from buying printed ad space. Passion publication is a well-known strategy that concentrates on engaging audiences based on their interest in specific printed content. For instance, John Deere has published its own farming industry magazine for over a century. Firms like Red Bull, King Arthur Flour and Airbnb have followed suit with lifestyle publications of their own.
No matter how print marketing evolves, advertisers will have to adapt too. Partnering with an experienced printer that provides comprehensive campaign management and logistics services may be the best way to keep all the pieces in order. To learn how, get in touch with a CORGFX specialist today.