I’m in the advertising business. At least that’s what they’re still calling it. Significant blocks of time transpire, however, where nothing resembling advertising passes through my company’s job queue, or past my desk. I check again just to be sure. Yep, Web site designs, optimized web site re-write, corporate identity package, radio spots (there’s something), video production and streaming, html emails, logo designs, CD package design, article development and submissions, sign graphics, travel brochure, banner ads, SEO work (plenty of it), news releases. I was right – no full-page advertising in queue this week – no string of print ad copywriting assignments, no huddling with the creative team to concept for an upcoming campaign (radio spot concept and copy is complete).
Oh, sure we have been frequently required to write some so-called “ad copy” full of key words. I hold hope that someday, search engines will code their bots to rank search results based on “strength of benefit” (SOB).
To top it off, I even had a friend who sells print travel advertising begin to tell me how in the age of Tivo, broadcast advertising was a short-timer in the marketing mix. I didn’t have the heart to ask him if he felt the same about print advertising, based on the proliferation of online tools available to advertisers…the ones who sustain my business and his.
All of these issues led me to wonder if print advertising is a dying art?
I peeled myself from my computer, where I’ve been engrossed in three hours of blurry-eyed internet research, finding better, more efficient and cost-effective promotional opportunities for clients, including SEO, PPC, RSS, forums, article submissions, directory listings, AdWords, search engine advertising (well, really not advertising, is it?), podcasting, blogging, webcasting, and on and on. Where did my time go?
Deciding that my work day was over, I left the office. Later, I walked into my living room to find my beautiful and charming wife lounged on the sofa reading Southern Living. She looked peaceful, blissful even, there flipping the pages and sipping her freshly brewed chai tea latte with milk and Splenda. I sat down beside her, silent, and observed as she lost herself in the magazine. A couple of times she uttered “what?” I said “Nothing. I’m just enjoying the quiet.”
She scanned it all, read some of it, including ads. She even turned down corners on some of the pages – “Must be a recipe,” I thought. Then it struck me: she’s been doing this since I met her, even before that. She wasn’t lounged on the couch with a laptop computer diligently, wirelessly downloading web page after web page of 256-color heaven. And why not? I mean, ads in the online version of their print counterparts are much less intrusive on the reader. Right?
Okay, now I was curious. And I tried to do some quick and meaningful research…online of course. What I found was a confusing array of seemingly contradictory information from various sources, some known, many unknown. Some said magazine and dailies readership was going up due to the internet. The other side was saying, you guessed it, the opposite.
I shut down my computer.
I’m going with my intuition on this. My own experience has taught me that sometimes your hunch on going with one headline over another is dead-center. So, here I go.
Magazines – and even newspapers (despite recent decline) – and those who choose to advertise in them are not going anywhere. The names might change, but periodicals as a media form has made it into the stubborn fabric of our culture. We read. We like to look at things, and at our own pace. A magazine, in this light, is even more user friendly than a computer. No typing is required. No booting up is necessary. No downloads delay us, just a cup of your favorite brand of chai tea latte to sip between articles. Was this the same brand advertised in Southern Living? Probably.
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that the internet has created another media (despite many arguments that the internet is not a “media”). And, it offers many opportunities to disclose and distribute information, and promote a company, individuals, group, products and services. And it does so – brilliantly in some instances, and clumsily in others – just as other media…imperfectly.
But, as for print advertising? I believe that as time goes by, it will retain its importance in the marketing mix. In fact, I believe it will become more segmented and targeted, as the media that contain it and thrive on it, will continue to be forced to evolve.
In response to my travel advertising friend, who prophesied the death of television advertising…perhaps I’ll cover that in another article.
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