Why Thinking Like a Digital Marketer Can Help You Sell Print Ads

For D. Eadward Tree, the print magazine industry has a fantastic opportunity right now…and most publishers just aren’t ready to take advantage of it.

Tree, writing in Publishing Executive, explains that the massive realities of digital ad fraud have marketers once again looking for advertising proposals that include print.

“Judging from my interactions with advertising sales reps, they’re seeing fewer digital-only RFPs these days and more media-agnostic ones,” Tree writes in Publishing Executive. “Marketers who were in the ‘print is dead’ camp now seem intrigued with the ability of print to engage their most valuable prospects. But simply buying ad pages in general-interest magazines is not their idea of effective targeting.”

Why not? It comes down to targeting, the massive promise that made digital ads look so attractive in the first place. Advertisers still crave that tight targeting and digital ads have fallen short of their promise. But, as Tree notes, it’s not the general interest magazines that are increasingly calling to brands with ad budgets.

“In this environment, niche titles are holding up best because their readership provides a natural target for certain advertisers: An archery magazine is obviously a great place for a bow manufacturer to place its ads,” Tree notes. He cautions, though, that even with the problems in the digital ad market, “that manufacturer may be shifting more of its dollars to a programmatic campaign targeted to people who have shopped online for crossbows in the last two weeks.”

There’s a problem, however. He believes that most magazine ad reps are one of two kinds, neither of which does the trick these days:

1) Print-only veterans who are out of touch with marketers’ ability to identify their prospects — and the kind of money they’re willing to spend to reach those prospects.; and

2) Multimedia reps, who are typically hired for their digital chops and have little, if any, print experience.

So, how can publishers take advantage of this need for incredibly tight targeting? Tree offers several salient suggestions “that illustrate what can happen when we take a Millennial’s grasp of hyper-targeting, blend it with an old print dinosaur’s tricks, and add a pinch of imagination.”

For example, a general parenting magazine could appeal to a brand looking for affluent parents of teenagers with a simple solution:

“Place sponsored cover wraps on copies mailed to orthodontists’ waiting rooms. Parents with time on their hands will pick up your magazine because it’s relevant to them, and the sponsor will have plenty of space and attention to make its pitch,” Tree explains.

He offers four additional ideas, including repurposing content for specific segments into special publications and utilizing the space in event guides to more effectively to appeal to advertisers. It’s good stuff, and easily doable given the technology available to the printing industry.

Does your ad sales team have what it takes? Are you willing to help them get there? For brands, they crave the kind of audience you can deliver…tightly targeted and fully engaged. Let’s see if we can all deliver.