Is print ever going to die?

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Lerato Senne, Insights Strategist at The MediaShop

A few years ago, we were frightened by this statement and the impact that digital would have on print’s ‘market share’. As a Market Analyst working at one of the biggest print media houses at the time, this really startled me, and the death of AMPS added to my consternation.

Come 2022 we are seeing growing numbers of print despite Covid-19 challenges where we saw a drastic drop of print circulations, non-submission to Audit Bureau of Circulation of SA and some publications closing down as a result of Lockdown regulations.

The latest ABC figures show that the Newspaper category has grown from 6,366,605 in Q2 2021 to 6,852,456 in Q2 2022 showing a 7.6% year-on-year growth. This means that there is still an appetite for print with Q2 2022 showing good stability overthe last three quarters.

Let’s put a little focus on Q2 of 2020 – there was a significant drop in circulation during the peak of Covid-19. One of the lowest points in the Newspaper industry is where some publications closed doors due to the impact of the pandemic. Many reports were published with little to no hope of recovery to this industry. However, even when things weren’t going well Newspapers never lost hope and it is evident in the numbers to date. It goes without saying that Covid-19 fast tracked the growth of digital adoption where we saw consumers moving dramatically towards online channels, but in spite of this, print continues to thrive.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations South Africa’s (ABC) notes the continuation of Digital migration to paid-for newspapers however, hard copies are still preferred by some…

This blog was inspired by my hiking buddy who regularly posts how he enjoys his Sunday paper, of course with a decent glass of wine every Sunday and it got me thinking, do marketers reach young people like my friend here who still prefers a hardcopy of a newspaper?

According to Hearst Publishing, they are seeing clear patterns in people looking to balance their lives with the intimate, lean-back experience of print – potentially due to the amount of time people are spending on screens and socials.

Research also shows that print is still pretty much alive and presently facing a resurgence. It should be noted that general consumers favour it to a large degree. According to a study by effectiveness consultancy Benchmaking for Newsworks, advertisers are making the wrong decision by cutting back on newspaper advertising. The study, which covered over 500 econometric models to produce valuable and accurate information, seems to prove that placing ads in print increases overall ROI by three times.

The bottom line

Despite any preconceived notions, print communications can be highly effective among younger consumers. We often hear about these new generations, the Millennials, in terms of digitalisation and social networks, however these young people have not given up on print. While digital marketing may seem like a better option at first because it reaches a wider audience and is easy to measure, print marketing is still viable because it is more reputable and durable with excellent visual quality. Research has proven that print is still an important and sought-after media in today’s world, regardless of what it’s used for. Millennials are reading more than previous generations at the same age, as well as appreciating the experience of physically reading a copy of a newspaper.