Tuesday 2¢: Print is Dead. Trusted, Cost Effective, but Dead. Right?

It’s on–trend to talk about things being dead, this should go well. Print is definitely dead. Definitely... or maybe not

  1. chevron left iconTuesday 2¢: Print is Dead. Trusted, Cost Effective, but Dead. Right?
Ian TruscottAugust 8, 2017
  • Digital Marketing

Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢. It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week Ian Truscott dispells the misnomer that print is dead and explains how it's transfigured.

It’s on–trend to talk about things being dead, this should go well.

Print is definitely dead.


These cool millennial types we are all supposed to be selling to today don’t read newspapers or magazines, they make buying decisions based on what they read on social media and videos measured in nanoseconds.


This is such an established fact of our industry, I probably don’t need to share any research, but I will. According to Pew Research US newspaper circulation is down to the levels of the 1940’s, their decline seems hasten every year and of course advertising revenues are tracking in the same direction: South.

And this is what we think of when we think of print, the inky business of traditional newspapers which there is no doubt they are in the vortex of a storm of digital disruption and those that survive will have found a new way.

The Washington Post seems to be finding a way, acquired by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the Post’s chief revenue officer, Jed Hartman was recently quoted saying “we’ll have our third straight year of double-digit revenue growth”.

OK, so he’s not growing that business through print, but online subscriptions and that story is more about rising from the supposed death of publishers, the successful monetizing of content, not the death of print, which is the subject of this article.

So, is this further evidence that print is dead? How about we look outside the traditional print industry.

How about IKEA?

IKEA publishes a catalogue that is often quoted as having a broader circulation than the bible. At over 200 million copies, it also dwarves the circulation of the newspaper that the quote comes from (the UK Daily Telegraph has a print circulation of around 1 million), you could argue that IKEA is a pretty significant print publisher.

Plus, the IKEA catalogue is something people opt into, you don’t get an IKEA catalogue as junk mail, you pick it up, you ask for it, you subscribe to it. Consumers want it.

Maybe this is just peculiar to the famous hex key based, build-it yourself furniture retail business, it has transcended the death of print, as such a powerful force in retail they can somewhat dictate how we transact.

OK, so how about Oriflame?

Oriflame products are also sold through catalogues, supporting a global network of over 3 million sales consultants, publishing in 40 languages and in more than 60 countries. They publish a new catalogue every 3 weeks and when they do, they see a spike in online sales.

Now we are talking omni-channel, digital marketing revenue that can be directly attributed to print.

Which brings me to Migros.

Based in Switzerland with retail sales of US$ 25.6 billion, it is one of the forty largest retailers in the world. Here is a quote from our case study with them:

Migros is currently successfully producing various advertising materials for 10 different national regions in three language versions. This includes the price flyer for the print version of the Migros magazine with a weekly circulation of around 2.2 million copies, various posters, POS material as well as additional flyers and in the online area the “Migros-Magazin” web portal and the distribution of offers for the Migros app.

A contemporary omni-channel customer experience cocktail of multiple channels and multiple languages, a very modern problem.

So, maybe this print thing is not so archaic, fusty and dead. But, what do those folks at the vanguard of modern marketing at the Content Marketing Institute think?

Well. In their 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends -- North America report, they reveal that 57% of B2B marketers continue to invest in print paid advertising and it’s narrowly beaten into second by Search Engine Marketing (SEM) at 66%. That’s ahead of the cool kids of Social Marketing and Promoted Tweets.

However, clearly there is potentially an attribution or measurement challenge (as you would expect with print), as according to the same survey, only a third of marketers think print paid advertising is effective.

Hang on, only a third.

That’s not bad for something that’s dead.

The report surveys close to four thousand marketers, that means that around fifteen hundred B2B industry marketing colleagues surveyed are not only investing in print advertising, but they find it cost effective.

Mark Ritson, award winning columnist for Marketing Week and marketing professor, reminds marketers of the importance of this mix, saying that marketers are rejecting traditional media ‘at their peril’ pointing out that 60 per cent of people still trust print advertisements, referencing research by Neilsen.

So, yes print is dead.

Although it’s trusted by consumers, cost effective for marketers and a key channel for well-known international brands. Not bad.

Ian Truscott
Ian Truscott has a passion for creating ART (Awareness, Revenue and Trust) for B2B software companies as a marketing leader and is a censhare alumni. Wanting to connect a like minded community and share something useful, he founded Rockstar CMO, a monthly digital publication, and is currently helping B2B companies create ART at appropingo.

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