Digital media is certainly the future, but does that mean print media is dead in the past? If we look a couple generations ahead then probably, but for now the market for print is still strong. A quick search provides negative articles predicting the death of print media, but looking at the big picture the print industry is still bringing in more than £52 Billion annually. Even with a stable decline, the print industry will still be profitable for companies offering quality content for years to come.
Digital Or Hybrid?
Traditional news companies such as The Independent has already made the switch to publishing only digital. Newscorp announced it would shut down 112 Print papers in its Australian business unit in the shift to digital media. Surveys completed by PrintingNews shows that 90% of adults still read magazines and print media. Turning a traditional media company such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal or other large publishers into pure digital media companies might hurt revenue the companies need medium-long term. There will be room for a hybrid solution until the next generational change, as generation X still prefers print in many areas while millennials are used to consuming their news online.
While digital media often drown in the noisy competition for clicks online, print media provide clean information in a set frame. The high pace speed digital media companies have to publish to stay in front of competitors turns a lot of work into white noise. Newsletters, push notifications, alerts and flashing headlines are all losing their effect as consumers are getting used to blocking out the noise.
According to Emarketer the global market for paid media will climb to almost £700 Billion for the year of 2020. The boarder between traditional media and paid media is getting blurrier for every year. As traditional advertisement lose traction marketers are paying more for articles and stories to embed their message into.
Social media is also weakening the position of traditional media. Low cost and large audiences have turned anyone into a news outlet, often with wrong or misinformation purposely. Strong media companies with a trusted brand might help cut through some of the noise, as traditional paper allows the consumers to access information while avoiding the noise online.
Print media can offer readers a trusted way to know who is behind the information, which the internet and online publishing never can. As trust in media is at all-time lows, the power of trusted brands might be the saviour of both print and digital media.
Print Through The Noise
Traditional newspapers will probably disappear in the not too distant future, but the interesting thing is that the number of niche magazines being printed on behalf of newspapers and other media companies are at all-time highs. Traditional news content is moving online, but in-depth stories and research requiring time to digest is being moved into print magazines. This is a great way to break through the noise as people is more likely to pick up a niche magazine with a topic with their interest rather than purchasing a cover-it-all newspaper.
This model might be future friendly as niche magazines are easier distributed and doesn’t require the huge infrastructure daily printing demands. The combination between print and digital will also allow the companies to move between digital advertisement and old-fashion print ads run in niche magazines. So rather than trying to morph into pure digital media, traditional companies should rebuild their infrastructure to get rid of the old fashion printing business, focus on a combination between niche magazines and digital content and apply modern printing techniques for the new magazine unit.
Technology As Best Friend And Mighty Foe
The rapid technological change the world has gone through the last decade has completely changed the way consumers interact with information. Tablets, smartwatches and smartphones gives the consumer any newsfeed on the planet directly into their hands. This is where print and digital media show their greatest differences.
Online the consumer expects a quick read, being able to consume information quick preferably solely by reading the headline or subtitle. Providing long in-depth stories through digital platforms will often result in bad viewership and low screen time from people on the move.
Consumers picking up a magazine or print media is much more likely to make time to sit down and consume more demanding information such as reports and in-depth articles. Meaning the print market is not dead in any way, but the content people expect has changed due to new habits.
Technology will be the great divide between strong media companies with a hybrid approach, or the more traditional company keeping to traditional print or pure digital publishing.
By utilising the latest printing techniques, micro NFC chips can be installed into flat, printed materials. Take your smartphone, simply hold it close to a business card or poster enabled with the NFC and instantly, like swiping a credit card, your smartphone can open a browser window opening a pre-defined link, sync a contact or even open a YouTube video!
The possibilities are endless, and with great looking design and tactile print solutions not only can you impress clients visually now – but you can interact with them digitally.
So, Is Print Dead?
Print media is in no way dead yet, but there is forms of print media that will have a rough time going forward. There is no sign that readers will stop consuming information, but the way media companies publish this media is due for a shakeup. The print industry is “only” worth around £50 billion compared to the paid media industry worth roughly £700 billion.
This makes focusing on niches more important than ever. There is still value to be found in print media, but as the competition for readers toughen the traditional media companies will have to adapt and focus more on carving out a position in their respective niche rather than trying to be part of the white noise that is breaking news.
Companies investing and branching out into industry niches will see a strong value in approaching media with a hybrid model. So traditional news companies will consolidate their position by morphing their trusted brands into streamlined media companies. Traditional newspapers should be a valuable brand in a diversified media portfolio rather than the main revenue for publishing companies trying to hold onto the past.