24-08-2016

Paper v digital advertising

Author: Lucy O’Dea

Working in the communications industry, we all acknowledge the benefits of online media and the opportunities it offers for the distribution and dissemination of information. However, it can be frustrating when all the attention turns to digital to the detriment of paper-based communication.

Author: Lucy O'Dea

Working in the communications industry, we all acknowledge the benefits of online media and the opportunities it offers for the distribution and dissemination of information. However, it can be frustrating when all the attention turns to digital to the detriment of paper-based communication.

So, I read with interest (and much enthusiasm) a recent report published by research firm, Lumen, into the effectiveness of digital versus print-based advertising. The study found that in fact, only 44% of digital display ads received any views at all, with just 9% of those ads receiving more than a second of attention and only 4% receiving more than two seconds of engagement. By contrast, the report concludes that print-based adverts fares very much better and are typically viewed by 75% of readers for an average of 2.2 seconds. These statistics tell a rather different story to current perceived wisdom on the comparative value of digital vs paper advertising.

The theory behind digital communications and the ease of tracking, analysing and monitoring activity online is certainly compelling, especially given how hard it is to evaluate the effectiveness of hard copy advertising. You can direct interested parties and potential prospects to your website, you can capture their data and then nurture them along the journey from prospect to customer. 

This process certainly ticks all the boxes for the marketers and budget owners. But should this mean that paper-based communication is simply ignored? Hard copy advertising still has a strong and powerful part to pay in an integrated marketing campaign, while many digital advertisements fail to stimulate or engage its audience. In fact, if ad verification company Meetrics is to be believed, £600m of advertising revenue is wasted each year on unseen digital advertisements. 

While there is absolutely a place for online communications, there is also still very much a role for print-based activity. It’s fair to say that online platforms are excellent for sourcing and receiving information quickly and timely, but as its very nature suggests, these platforms tend to be used when time is not on our side. By contrast however, print-based communications tend to be chosen when there is more time to enable the reader to absorb its content and take the time to think, process and engage with the advertisement.

A meaningful campaign must therefore consider carefully its target audience; their characteristics, how they seek and receive information and their likely levels of engagement across the multiple communications platforms. By researching the basics, and getting under the skin of your target audience, you can then start to formulate the best communications campaign using the most appropriate communications platforms to achieve the very best outcome for your client.