The Power of Print Ads in a Digital World

Even before work became WFH and social interaction turned completely digital, people have longed for tangible elements in our hyper-online landscape. Now, the search for sensory engagement beyond what our screens can offer is even more meaningful. And that could mean now is the right time to focus on print in your brand strategy.

“Engaging sensory experiences have become even more meaningful during this time of uncertainty,” writes Cecile Jordan in Beyond Definition. “Think about how refreshing it is to take a walk outside. Or open a piece of mail. Not an email or another utility bill. I mean actual snail mail perhaps from a friend or maybe a magazine.”

Does Print Advertising Work?

Jordan echoes what many brands are finding: direct mail and printed marketing are more welcome — and more successful — when our audiences are digitally maxed out.

“Personally, I have never been more excited to receive a catalog than when this year’s Amazon Holiday Wishbook showed up at my front door,” Jordan continues. “More and more brands are returning to traditional print experiences to supplement their digital marketing efforts.”

We hear you about the Amazon catalog, Cecile. Even though the brand made some noticeable blunders in this year’s effort, it’s still a fantastic moment when you find it in your mailbox.

We’ve shared previous research on print vs. digital advertising, how our brains are literally wired to respond to print and the power of our senses in relating to print messaging. As Jordan notes, “The more senses you engage, the more memorable the experience becomes.”

All this research existed prior to 2020, but this year has been especially taxing on our sensory input. Between work, socializing, school and even telemedicine, too much of our day revolves around digital … and the welcome respite of print is like vitamin C for the soul.

Print vs. Digital Media

Brands are embracing this response to print media, according to Jordan, especially millennial-focused companies.

“Contrary to popular belief, research shows that younger, tech-driven generations engage with printed materials just as much, if not more, than older generations,” Jordan writes. “Print is seen as a novelty to the point that 36 percent of people under the age of 30 look forward to checking their mailboxes every day.”

Using Print Wisely

What can make your brand really stand out? Jordan shares some suggestions.

  • “Utilizing a heavier stock, incorporating a unique fold, or applying a printed texture are only a few methods that can make a brand stand out in a world of digital clutter.”
  • “In addition to these haptic enhancements, some companies have even gone a step further by engaging their audiences’ sense of smell with scented inks.”
  • “The more interesting the print method, the more the audience will engage with it. Some even save the piece and show it to others.”

Embrace the reality of print in a digital-heavy sales cycle and get some brand love in the process. Print checks all the boxes these days, and print’s moment is here.