While newspaper and magazine circulation may be down across the country, print advertising still represents a good opportunity for companies seeking high-intent and high-value customers. What’s more is that digital tools and cost-per-action models give both groups more opportunities to generate qualified leads, track these leads, and earn revenue.
In addition to continued print newspaper circulation decline since 1984 and a similar story for hardcopy magazines, more Americans have gotten their news from news websites and social media sites than print newspapers for some time now. And while Keypoint Intelligence does see “digital fatigue” growing the opportunity for magazines as well as color newspaper and newsletter applications in the next few years, the value of these applications dropped quite a bit from 2019 to 2020.
With the decline in print subscriptions and readership, more advertisers have moved to online advertising with a pay-per-click model that can be more cost-effective (e.g., advertisers only pay when a user reaches its website), targeted (e.g., focused on demographics like location, language, and device), and measurable (e.g., for determining ROI).
According to Jessica Greiner, VP of Direct-Response Business Development at MediaBids (a performance print advertising network in the United States), small and mid-size newspapers fared relatively well in recent years pre-COVID, continuing to maintain strong local advertising thanks to unique, high-quality community news and information; a loyal readership; and the ability to provide hyperlocal and geographically targeted ads (especially helpful for businesses like restaurants, auto dealerships, senior services, real estate, home product and service providers, and those hosting local events).
But COVID changed the situation quite a bit.
“The pandemic and associated business restrictions caused many local advertisers to pull their ads from newspapers in the early days of COVID because they could no longer operate in the same manner—such as those in the restaurant and entertainment industries,” Greiner said, noting that segments like home product and service ads remained strong.
With fewer companies advertising, MediaBids saw a large uptick in demand from newspapers for its regional and national performance-based advertisers as publishers strove to monetize their available space. Through its digital platform and capabilities, MediaBids connected them (and magazines) with these advertisers to help them recapture lost ad dollars while also giving the advertisers a way to measure and pay for the response to their print ads.
MediaBids’ platform allows these advertisers to digitally track the performance of their ads, ensuring they only pay publishers when a qualified phone call, lead, or sale occurs. This gives the advertisers the transparency benefits of online advertising with the advantages of print advertising.
Benefits of print advertising, according to Greiner, include readers who are more engaged with the ads and more informed when reaching out to the advertiser. Typically, people who respond to print ads (including homeowners and seniors) have time to study and research the company before they make a phone call or submit a form for more information, so they are more apt to make an appointment or purchase.
“We routinely see 50% to 70% conversion rates from call-to-appointment, and high conversion rates from appointment-to-sale,” said Greiner. “Newspapers and magazines provide high-quality content and advertising that stands out to consumers in a way that other channels can’t.”
In addition, MediaBids frequently has advertisers reporting their prospects converted from a print ad weeks or months down the road because they saved a physical copy of the ad; other channels do not offer that opportunity for ad recall.
Other capabilities provided by MediaBids—which has relationships with about 8,000 publications and 15,000 companies/advertisers across the United States and Canada—include a free program for publications; quick creation of high-quality and customized ads; detailed ad response reporting; and monthly payment to publications through check, ACH, or PayPal.
While many have spoken of the accelerated digitalization occurring within companies and households during COVID, it’s also important to recognize the digital fatigue that may be settling in as we are constantly bombarded with online and digital content and advertising. Turning to a print publication can certainly give us an opportunity to really focus on the content (including the ads) without the distractions of social media and pop-up ads. And the advanced targeting/customization, tracking, and design capabilities provided by print advertising (that in many ways mirror digital capabilities) give companies another reason to consider a print or omnichannel advertising campaign.
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