Digital Longs to Be Tangible – for Good Reason

Netflix launched a magazine. Bumble launched a magazine. Airbnb launched a magazine. Facebook launched a ma … you get the idea. Digital brands are falling over their online roots to publish in print.

According to Catherine Saraniti, SVP of Media at MRI-Simmons, there’s a hot romance between digital brands and print. And it’s busting the narrative that digital media is poised to overtake and eradicate traditional ones.

“The trajectory of media seemed crystal clear – MP3s would make records and CDs obsolete; e-books would out-muscle the paper variety; and printed newspapers and magazines would eventually succumb to digital alternatives,” Saraniti writes.

“But along the way, the story became less open-and-shut, the conclusions less inevitable. Vinyl records staged a comeback, with heavyweight albums commanding premium prices. April 13th was the 12th annual Record Store Day, a frenzied celebration of vinyl in which over 500 exclusive editions were released – and often sold out – in 24 hours.”

Digital pundits may be shocked at the news, but for Saraniti, it comes as no surprise. Digital brands are looking to print because it’s a ready audience of affluent, educated influencers.

“As the print magazine ratings company, MRI has been collecting evidence of the influence and power of magazines – and their readers – for more than 40 years,” she explains. “Now a part of MRI-Simmons – a joint venture under GfK – MRI finds print magazine readers on average have household incomes 21% higher than non-print readers. And because of their ‘influencer’ status, print readers are also sought out by friends and family for guidance when purchasing everything from CPG to fashion and beauty to automotive.”

Young, old, male, female … these influencers agree on one thing: They like the way a print magazine feels. And that is a powerful step on the path to purchase. Not only that, but their research discovered that we’d really miss those titles if they went away.

According to Saraniti, “on average, 55% of readers say, ‘I would really miss this publication if it were no longer available,” and 47% state “I find the ads in this publication a valuable source of information.’ The latter is quite timely, because many print titles have been feeling the pressure of declining ad support.”

Are you taking full advantage of this human connection to print? Are you making this information available to your ad partners as well? Because ultimately, aren’t brands all searching for a way to truly engage their audience?

This, Saraniti believes, is where the resonance of classic print brands lie, “simply in the value of being able to hold a beautifully curated magazine in your hands and turn actual pages without interruption. That relationship is deeply ingrained – and even for those who may not have grown up with Life or National Geographic or People, the experience can quickly take you to your happy place. That is a connection that brands of all kinds recognize as hugely valuable – and unique!”

We get it, digital brands. Print is a happening place for you. Welcome to print; we’re thrilled you’re here.