Have we fallen out of love with digital?

Exploring print marketing’s power in a digital world

Family sat in living area on digital devices

Distrust in a digital world

Trust is the foundation of any solid relationship, especially the one between brand and consumer. Yet there is an inescapable feeling that this relationship is being put to the test by consumers’ growing distrust in digital platforms.

In late July 2018, Facebook’s share price fell 19%, wiping over $119 billion off its value in the largest ever one-day collapse in a company’s value. Three million European users had abandoned the world’s leading social network following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which 50 million Facebook profiles were harvested without user consent or knowledge.

To paraphrase Farhad Manjoo's article in the New York Times(1), it is difficult to show the same enthusiasm we had for smartphones and social networks ten years ago when we now associate these technologies with data mishandling and intrusive advertisements.

As the author identifies, “we have not, as a society, come to grips with the scope of their control over our lives. And we don’t have many good ways to limit it.”

1 - Why Tech Is Starting To Make Me Uneasy, The New York Times, 11 October 2017

Mac, keyboard and stationary scattered on desk

The opportunity for print marketing

Marketers are increasingly aware of this widely shared sentiment among consumers. Digital channels alone are no longer enough for planning targeted marketing campaigns. Print marketing is able to stimulate the critically-important emotional engagement between a brand and its target audience, which is why marketers need to mobilise print in a complementary role alongside digital.

If trust is the key to making a connection with the consumer, then print is well placed to make an impact. According to MarketingSherpa (2), print features prominently among the five most trusted advertising channels:

  • Newspaper and magazine print ads (82%)
  • TV ads (80%)
  • Direct mail ads and catalogues (76%)
  • Radio (71%)
  • Outdoor signage (69%)

Online pop-ups featured at the bottom of the poll.

It’s clear why people are undergoing a ‘digital detox’ and reacquainting themselves with print. The consumption of digital content is often marred by notification alerts, open tabs, invasive ads and hyperlinks that lead you away from the page you are trying to read. Print instead aids concentration and increases information absorption, a detail too crucial for brand owners to ignore during the campaign planning phase.

2 - Marketing Chart: Which advertising channels consumers trust most and least when making purchases, Marketing Sherpa, January 17 2017

A stark separation between print and digital would be a mistake, as there is so much that can be achieved by combining their strengths

However, a stark separation between print and digital would also be a mistake, as there is so much that can be achieved by combining their strengths. Marketers understand that, as long as it is done within the parameters and regulations set by the industry, capturing customers’ personal data is essential to instantly address them with content tailored precisely to their profile.

By combining the personalisation capabilities of digital with print’s power to rebuild trust, as well as stimulate deeper and more focused engagement with content, marketers are able to create innovative promotional campaigns that target specific demographics.

In light of this argument it becomes clear how big an opportunity lies ahead for marketers. Print has been a constant in promotional campaigns since the earliest days of marketing. Meanwhile digital has emerged, disrupted and matured into a powerful communication channel in a very short space of time.

Innovative concepts such as Programmatic Print enable marketers to combine the advantages of print and digital to achieve something special. By harnessing data to create more customer-centric experiences in printed direct mail, brochures, catalogues and customer magazines, brands are in a position to deliver marketing assets that achieve new levels of engagement and, crucially, amplify response.

Written by Tino Wägelein
Business Development Manager, Canon Europe

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