The future of print advertising: interview with 3 leading agencies

Published 26 March 2020
Since the dawn of the internet, we’ve seen marketers increasingly shift their focus to digital platforms. With ad spends on the decline, many seem to jump to the conclusion that print is on the way out. But is the truth really that simple? Do print and digital compete over the same media budgets or could they in fact complement each other?

We chatted with Jessica Smith, Strategy Director for Grey London , Hamon Hedayati, Managing Director for GREYmedia Germany, and Régis Boulanger, Executive Creative Director for Famous Grey Paris on the state of print advertising in Europe. Here’s what they had to say:

Could you describe the role of print advertising in your home market?

Jessica: “These days, the targeting possibilities of online channels are completely unmatched, so the role of print has increasingly switched to building awareness for your brand or product. When you want to reach a broad audience with a broad message, print is your best friend.”

Hamon: “Although advertising spends reflect the declining sales numbers of daily newspapers and magazine publications, we are seeing a renaissance in the use of print. Germany is still a print country.”

Régis: “The French consumer still holds a particular affection for print. Our clients see print as a high-quality medium that allows them to have a big impact on their target.“

We often think that print and digital compete over the same budgets. Is this in fact the case?

Jessica: “While the two channels do sometimes compete over the same budgets, we don’t think they should. To some extent, both serve different functions in the decision-making chain. Roughly speaking, print is more about building awareness while digital channels nudge consumers towards the purchase decision.”

Hamon: “Given limited media budgets, we do experience a general trend towards prioritising digital over print. However, in terms of campaign performance, the results seem to favour print: advertising campaigns with magazine occupancy are more effective than those without.“

Régis: “I would describe print and digital as complementary instead of competing. For optimal campaign performance, we often recommend our clients use both channels effectively.”

When it comes to creative advertising, what distinct strengths does print have over digital?

Jessica: “The slower pace of consumption is definitely print’s biggest asset. With print, people aren’t flicking around as much, and are more focused on your message.

Hamon: “In a fast-moving world, print represents "decelerated" media consumption. Ads are consumed differently and receive more attention and longer exposure in the target group.”

Régis: “The surging popularity of adblockers shows that brands do not always do digital advertising right. Because it is less intrusive, people react more favourably to print advertising. Multiple studies have also shown that print advertising allows deeper comprehension and better memorization of the message.”

So, despite the digital hype, it seems that print is still very much alive and kicking in the minds – and budgets – of advertisers throughout Europe. But what makes a good print advertisement? And what are the latest and greatest techniques and developments we’ve seen in the past few years? Keep your eyes peeled for the April edition of the Lumi Newsletter, where our ad execs name their favourite print campaigns in recent years.