How relevant is print media, in particular the newspaper, as an advertising medium today? This question has been posed for several years now. No one has a definite answer. Yet, the consensus is that it remains relevant even with digital ads becoming mainstream, even for e-commerce and e-learning players.
What is the role and relevance of print newspaper ads today?
“Print as a medium still receives higher credibility in the dissemination of news and it is this credibility factor that becomes a key decision for brands to advertise today. It has the ability to give a lot of information, thus enabling the reader to make an informed choice and we have studies stating that consumers respond in a positive way after being exposed to print ads,” says Priya Iyer, COO – South, Initiative Media.
Anand M Charles, CEO, Bharat Media Group, underlines the role of every medium in the media mix. He adds, “If your marketing objective is to build and establish credibility, print is your medium. Readers/consumers still believe in the printed medium. The belief still exists that an editor runs the newspaper. Hence, the positioning of what is being published or represented in the newspaper carries the credibility quotient. Trust is built through newspapers; your route can be advertising or content. Both work equally well. Newspapers offer the marketer an environment where the audience is relaxed, focused, attentive and, above all, receptive.”
“The kind of media budget required to run a print media campaign helps to establish the fact that the brand is stable and in it for the long haul. If a marketer is spending millions of rupees on a single day advertising in one medium, he isn’t running or closing the shop in the near future. The single day budget of print, in most cases, is sufficient to run a yearly campaign on digital,” adds Charles.
Who should advertise, when and for what reasons?
“Print advertising will remain in force, especially in states like Kerala where the reading habit is very high,” observes Raju Menon, Director, Maitri Advertising Works.
“Print is the only credible medium now. So, if a brand wants to say its facts and figures, they need print. Many times, when social media attacks a brand or a corporate, the best and most apt reply is given in newspapers. If you look at the brands that participate in sports events, they are not the ones that use print on a large scale in any way,” he adds.
“You are looking to create an impact, to create buzz in the marketplace. Print is the answer. What kind of advertising innovations can you make and connect with crores of people in one day?” Charles adds.
“Print is far more effective in the path to purchase compared to other mediums, and we have time and again seen that it’s an important medium for creating quick impact and reach. Which is why you see a high level of advertising from brands and categories where a call for action or immediacy is needed – be it ecommerce, delivery platforms, or automobiles. Additionally, due to the medium’s credibility and localised reach, for brands who are looking to build trust or educate and go deeper, print will be one of the mediums of choice,” emphasises Iyer.
Why newspapers stay relevant
According to Ahammed MP, Chairman, Malabar Golds & Diamonds, print stays relevant with three key aspects. He explains: “Its ability to attract undivided and bigger attention span from readers than digital ads, influence the decision-making ability of the target audience, and act as a trigger to activate purchase.”
“Digital advertisements in India are still battling behavioural resistance from a large section of viewers,” observes Ahammed.
“They perceive digital advertisements as a barrier to consuming the intended content and prefer to click the skip-ad button. On the other hand, the print media consumption habit in India or across the world for that matter, doesn’t shut out the practice of browsing through print advertisements in various shapes and sizes. That’s where the relevance of print newspaper ads lies in the contemporary advertising ecosystem. Having said that, one shouldn’t overlook the fact that print advertisements derive strength mainly from text and visual impact, whereas digital ads have a larger canvas to make a lasting impact through audio, visual, and graphics,” he adds.
For many advertisers, the printed newspaper holds an irreplaceable position in the marketing mix.
“India has the largest and most robust print media ecosystem that directly reaches out to households across the country. Despite the enormous growth on the digital front, the print medium continues to hold a strong and loyal reader base, offering huge opportunities for brands. We still consider newspapers as the primary medium for our ad budget allocations. Around 40 percent of our budget is spread across the print publications. Print medium holds an irreplaceable position for our marketing campaigns and we consider printed newspapers quite relevant, consistently delivering positive ROI,” says Alukkas Varghese Joy, Managing Director, Joyalukkas India.
The regional and cultural connect adds to the relevance of print, states VKC Razak, MD, VKC Group.
He surmises, “In a country like India, print has a huge relevance even though digital is growing at a breathtaking speed. The relevance of print is that it touches the cultural context of a region with the vernacular dailies and the local pages in English language dailies. The strength of print is proven by the fact that the online marketplace giants have a sizeable chunk of ad spend in print.”
That seems to be the single largest endorsement for the relevance of newspapers. Consumers may have shifted to online marketplaces. But their choice of online marketplace seems to be influenced – in reasonable part – by ads in the printed newspaper.