Prove it. How magazines are fighting back and proving they are relevant.

Posted by on March 15, 2010

It’s official. I’m a marketing geek. While scrolling through my daily digest business news and current events in my Blogline feed gatherer, an article caught my eye and rendered me – well – excited. Said article, found in the Wall Street Journal, announces the launch of a massive effort through a partnership of the world’s largest publication groups (including giants Hearst and Time Warner’s Time Inc.) to convince people that print is NOT dead, and that mass advertising in highly read print magazines is still an effective way to reach consumers.

Why does this excite a marketing geek? I’ve spent plenty of time on both ends of the “Does print advertising work anymore?” argument.  We marketers know that when client dollars are tight, print campaigns become difficult to justify based on the high cost.

This campaign, dubbed, “Magazines: the Power of Print,” will either support or defend the argument by pouring an estimated $90 million into a seven-ad campaign across some of America’s best read magazines to entice advertisers to spend on print advertising.

Michael Phelps

The initial ad in the campaign features Michael Phelps

This little experiment will prove, once and for all, if print ads actually work. Publishers are practicing what they preach to their own customers – and it is risky. If baseline metrics of ad dollars spent in these print magazines DOESN’T grow by the time the campaign finishes, advertising representatives for these magazines sure will have a tough time convincing their clients to spend dollars in the same way.

Fellow marketing geeks, let’s hear your predictions! Is the print ad dead, or do you think this campaign will work?

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  1. Print is not dead, but it is definitly on the endangered species list. With everyone going green and the internet at our finger tips, print has lost its luster and won’t last much longer.

  2. Print is going down like a Mike Tyson opponent circa 1988. In the technological age that we live in, there are quicker and more effective ways to communicate a marketing message. And for the OCD audience, it is extremely likely messages contained in print ads will never reach them, as the idea of cluttering their space(s) with magazines and newspapers is certain to cause schizo episode. However, should we band together as a society and permanently discard our computers, iPhones, and Blackberries, then print-ads are guaranteed to make a roaring comeback.

  3. Here’s some news. Spending 90 million anywhere in any medium will get you results, but for the print industry to thrive, they need to take a hint from their digital brethren and focus on providing meaningful metrics to media buyers. Many multi-channel marketing tactics actually reinforce one another, and my money says that for many brand advertisers, print advertising would do just that.

    To that end, agencies should experiment, to the extent they are able, with their clients’ marketing mix to identify impact on brand awareness, traffic, or whatever their success measures of choice are. Creating a URL unique to your print campaign, and measuring that web traffic separately is a great way to do this. Even better is taking that one step further and cookieing targets of the print campaign and running a brand lift retargeting campaign with Vizu or the like.

    If, at the end of the day, including print in their media strategy boosts performance of their Online/TV/Radio buys more than allocating the print budget to a different tactic, then there remains a place for print.

  4. I believe that special interest print like magazines are around to stay. These publications give more in-depth coverage into particular topics. I am an online news junkie but still read my monthly magazines in print.

    I actually saw this article (I think through Twitter, which is where I get most of my news lately) and thought it was a good PR campaign for the magazines. Not sure if it will work or not though.

  5. This was a thought provoking post. I Believe that print ads will remain effective but only for an older demographic. Once baby boomers die out, future generations will become more and more reliant on internet media forms, and print ads will likely meet their doom. However, I think they have a few more years of effectiveness.

  6. I hear print’s death knell with every passing day. Magazines will survive simply because of its ability to provide glossy realism but newspapers will soon become completely digital and there will be a move to more streamlined visual mediums like streaming. The future is in moving pictures. One day, most households with get these boxes known as televisions and they will no longer look to paper in a world where trees are becoming an endangered species. Haha! You heard it here first! 😉

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