Digital Media vs. Print Media

Long live the print industry, which can be traced all the way back to the 15th century. But the fact it’s been around for awhile now has sparked many a discussion about its future…

Some say it’s thriving. Others say it’s had its day, having been overshadowed by the fast-paced, always-accessible and always-on digital era in which we now live.

In this blog, we explore the two marketing disciplines and share some inspirational examples of digital and print media in action

What Do We Mean by Print Media?

Any form of printed promotion. For instance, business cards, flyers, brochures, magazine features, newspaper adverts, billboards and so much more. As the name suggests, print media is basically anything that’s printed.

Print media provides businesses with one or multiple opportunities, depending on their marketing strategy. It can be implemented using more of a broad brush approach, e.g. region-wide leaflet drops or tailored to specific audiences. Placing thought leadership features in a specific trade magazine is a prime example of this.

Print media campaigns can be highly creative too. Who can forget KFC’s ingenious FCK apology campaign when the unthinkable happened, and they ran out of chicken back in 2018? Not only did the campaign leverage the power of print to its full potential, it was an excellent lesson in crisis comms for the PR world and wider extending to digital platforms.

What Do We Mean by Digital Media?

Just as much as print media is still being implemented the world-over today, digital media is the here and now of marketing. In a nutshell, we’re talking owned media, paid media and earned media that are all generated digitally, i.e. online. Examples include: social media posts, web pages, blog feeds, apps and so on.

What’s the Difference between Digital and Print Media?

Digital media encompasses all things digital. Any news or adverts you may see online on devices, such as your phone, tablet or computer are all classed as digital media.
Given the scale and breadth of online activity, digital media can be used to reach a much wider audience, elevating brands on an international level. A staggering 4.70 billion people around the world now use social media, which equates to more than half the global population. (For more on using social media to boost your marketing strategy, read our blog, ‘Which social media platforms should my small business be on to make it to the next level?’)
At the same time, digital marketing also enables businesses to learn and embrace the latest trends and see what other people (competitors included) are doing and talking about.

What Does the Future Hold for Print Media?

As we’ve mentioned above, we live in a technology-driven world where we can Google the solution to almost anything, see what our friends and family have been up to on social, and order a take-out or taxi via an app.
Technological advances mean the volume of information we now have access to has expanded to epic proportions. Take emails, for instance, 319.6 billion of them were sent and received daily worldwide in 2021. For businesses, these advances have opened up a whole new set of opportunities to engage with prospects and stay at the forefront of customers’ minds.
As far as answering the million dollar question, ‘Is print media dead?’ goes, it all depends on which perspective you look at it from. While it’s a whole different beast compared to digital media, there’s a reason why it’s succeeded for so long and, more importantly, has adapted to the 21st century. And there are plenty of stats out there to show its relevance, including these three:
  • 51% of people prefer being contacted by post, 35% by email, 12% via phone calls and 1% via text
  • 95% of direct mail is engaged with(i.e. opened, read and filed)
  • On average, readers spend 20 minutes or more reading a printed publication compared to digital readers who spend less than five minutes on a digital news site
Plus there’s the fact that, even in today’s digital times, some people prefer to hold or see something in person rather than digest it on screen.

Can You Combine Print and Digital Media?

Absolutely. In fact, there are some wonderful examples of it being implemented with huge success from over the years. Campaigns that implement tactics from both the print and digital camps offer the best of both worlds, delivering some outstanding results in the process.

Using Labels to Tell Crime Stories

One print/digital media piece of brilliance that sticks in our mind, is 19 Crimes’ ‘living labels’ campaign. Their wine bottles feature a label that’s literally brought to life. Simply download their app, scan a label with your phone camera and unlock a true crime story. Clever, right?

Putting Wi-Fi Speed to the Test

When telecommunications company, Sonera, wanted to show how fast its 4G wireless was, it produced a print ad. But it wasn’t any old print ad, it incorporated a place for people to place their phones and fingers while playing a game that showed just how speedy their wireless was.

Bringing Works of Art to Life

Now this is a highly creative campaign we just couldn’t leave out. While it works in a slightly different way to the two examples we’ve just shared, it’s still a prime example of combining virtual and physical with superb effect. In a nutshell, Sukiennice Museum in Poland used reenactors to tell the Secrets Behind the Paintings. Visitors scanned QR codes for ‘real-life’ insight on the paintings they were looking at.
A final few words about print and digital media…
As the trio of examples we’ve just shared with you show, print and digital media can be married together to increase brand awareness and boost engagement on a widespread scale.
Both tactics have plenty of advantages to offer, and the campaigns that leverage the two, are to be celebrated. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to use just print or digital media independently, depending on your target audience and which channel is best going to resonate with them, but it’s always worth bearing in mind there’s always scope to go down both routes. We’re a marketing agency in Birmingham that’s implemented plenty of creative, high-performing print and digital media campaigns over the years.

Need help setting your marketing strategy, defining your priorities, or just want general guidance? Book a consultation call today with our team of experts.

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