As reporting and budget cycles move to shorter cycles, long-term strategic brand building is often overlooked for the immediate gratification of short-term eyeballs. And according to some industry experts, this reality is helping keep print ad spend low.
“Audiences report loving print products,” writes Chris Sutcliffe in The Drum. “Newspapers and high-quality magazines have a captive and lucrative audience, and by dint of their printed format avoid some of the issues around unsafe advertising environments that plague digital advertising. Despite that, brands and advertisers are investing less and less money in the format, with the vast majority of ad spend going to digital formats.”
To understand why, The Drum, in partnership with Print Power, gathered a panel of industry experts to take a deep dive into the topic.
“The roundtable started by discussing why print is so often spoken of in opposition to digital,” Sutcliffe writes. “There is general agreement that scale is the primary draw for advertisers, for who easy access to audiences at scale through the enormous digital ad networks. Despite that, the panel also believed that shifting entirely to digital is evidence of short-termism among advertisers, and that ultimately it might be self-defeating.”
Helen Bazauye, global editor in chief of IKEA magazine and a participant in the roundtable, agrees.
“Digital can produce cheap, quick results,” said Bazauye. “However… we’re coming to a tipping point where mistrust and familiarity with digital is starting to blunt its effectiveness.”
Shorter budget and reporting cycles encourage short-termism, with brands focusing on easily measurable metrics that can be compiled almost instantaneously. This emphasis on immediate results can have a downward effect on long-term strategic goals, and makes it harder to build and foster the kind of trust needed for long-term audience engagement.
“There seems to be a growing reliance in advertising plans on short-term thinking,” noted this article in Print Power. “And in this quick turnaround, data-driven culture, brands are turning to short-term results at the expense of long term creative campaigns that take time to quantify. But with that comes a depressing slump in media effectiveness.”
While most of the panelists agreed short-termism is a risky strategy, they also realize it’s not going away any time soon.
“We’re not spending in print as we need to justify budget on a year-by-year basis,” explained Elizabeth Stone, marketing manager at the John Lewis Partnership. “It’s difficult outside of the marketing function to justify a long-term approach to brand building.”
Fortunately, modern data analytics is beginning to shed statistical light on print’s impact on immediate campaign goals. But it requires a shift in thinking from “what is easy to measure” and “what’s the right thing to do.”
“We know through using [direct response group] Bliss as a measurement tool that when we run an ad in the Evening Standard for example, we can track a spike in enquiries at particular times of the day when we know people are reading the newspaper,” said Peter Markey, CMO at TSB. “So that’s an example of how digital and print can work in conjunction.”
Ironically, the print industry itself bought into the myth that print ads aren’t trackable … even though they’ve been tracking them for decades. Now, with the help of cross-channel campaigns, sophisticated print ad response is possible, in shorter timeframes.
This bodes well for print advertising as marketers behind to understand the possibilities. And it bodes well for brands that take advantage of print to build not only short-term results, but long-term relationships that truly grow brand awareness, prestige and trust.
Digital has created a culture of laziness in so many ways … we expect information at our fingertips, in 10 second sound bites, and the fast, cheap and easy approach is tempting. It takes thought and consideration to report on the metrics that truly matter. Is short-termism keeping your campaigns small?