Airbnb, Uber, Facebook… why are tech giants venturing into print?

Published 26 June 2019
Amidst dwindling subscriptions and declining ad spends, the world’s largest digital brands are dipping their toes into print. What’s going on?
We’ve long heard news on print media’s fall from grace. From 2011 to 2018, retail sales of magazines fell 54% in the UK alone. Uncoincidentally, advertisers are slashing their print ad budgets.

Despite gloomy statistics, some companies seem to be swimming against the tide.

According to WAN-IFRA’s latest World Press Trends report, media users trust print over digital media. This holds particularly true for younger respondents. When asked to evaluate between different media, 85% of 15-24-year-old EU citizens said they trust print as a news source. Meanwhile, only 37% expressed their trust towards online social networks and messaging apps.

Not only is it more trustworthy, print engages readers better. In the latest edition of b4p, Germany’s most prominent market media study, over 70% of respondents agreed with the statement “When I read (or browse) a magazine or newspaper, I focus on nothing else”.

Consumers are also seemingly more lenient towards ads in the medium. A 2017 global survey by Kantar showed that consumers respond more positively towards print ads than their online counterparts. Magazine ads topped the study’s net positive charts at a score of 19, while online video held the rear at -5.

Considering these figures, it no longer seems surprising that many digital brands are now venturing into print media. Airbnb launched their own magazine in 2017, Uber has rolled out several and even Facebook has recently launched its own magazine, Grow, aimed at business leaders.

One way these giants are challenging their traditional competitors is through data.

Airbnb’s magazine, for example, is in part influenced by the billions and billions of data points the company keeps on its customers. If the lodging service’s algorithms see that users are increasingly searching for ‘Paris’, it notifies the magazine’s editorial staff to whip up a story or two on the French capital.

So, to sum up: when reading a magazine, consumers focus more on its content, they react more positively to ads and they see the medium as more trustworthy. No wonder, then, that brand after brand wants to be the one you take to beach this summer.