Google boss Larry Page pictures his company like a toothbrush: used at least twice a day. This quirky metaphor is what spurs Google’s marketing director, Joshua Spanier.
Yet when Google, one of the world’s most recognised online brands, wanted to market itself, it eschewed a digital-only strategy in favour of print media as its springboard.
Speaking at the recent AdTech event in Sydney, Spanier explained that a campaign run in the travel section of The New York Times drove readers to the newspaper’s home page. After 157 days, Google measured a 9.1% increase in awareness of Google Maps, and a 9.9% intention among readers to use its maps and search applications when travelling.
“Ultimately, the people who will discover it are people who read The New York Times and the people they tell about it,” Spanier said. And that can be a lot of people.
Down But Far From Out
Print may seem to be under siege, but it is still a durable marketing platform. According to Deloitte’s “2014 Media Consumer Survey,” respondents pay more attention to print advertising in newspapers and magazines than they do to online advertisements. And, while subscriptions to printed newspapers are falling, a substantial 49% of respondents said they prefer printed magazines over digital.
It’s a theme that resonates for Singapore-based Sean Davidson, head of marketing and communications for Tata Consultancy Services, which has used print advertising to market and brand its TCS New York City Marathon event.
“Like anything in campaigns, it’s about the having the right mix and ensuring you are reaching all relevant audiences through whatever channels will get the best results for you,” Davidson said. “Regarding print, I think there is certainly still an opportunity to consider it in campaigns. It depends on the scale of the campaign and audiences, and your budget, of course.”
Davidson said he believes that, in most situations, a mix of print and digital achieves optimal results. Luxury goods, real estate, and mobile phones are particularly strong categories for print, he added, with the key target being wealthy individuals and middle-aged readers.
In some countries, the market for print is still growing steadily. McKinsey & Company’s “2014 Global Media Report” identified India and China as print-growth markets compared with the rest of the world.
While the report noted that digital advertising is growing rapidly, investment in magazine and newspaper advertising is still relatively strong. It forecast that global digital advertising would reach $US167 billion this year, but combined spending on consumer magazines ($US62 billion) and newspapers ($US151 billion) still eclipses that total.
Gaye Steel, marketing director at Guihen Jones, a Sydney firm specialising in in-store retail communications, is agnostic about the print versus digital debate.
“You need the strategy first,” Steel said. “Quite often inexperienced marketers will say, ‘We need to do digital,’ but you need the right content and the right platform. Where does your audience engage?”
When advertising agency Memac Ogilvy was called on to help launch a new soft drink flavour in the Middle East, the answer to that question was print. It discovered that the youth audience preferred to follow emerging trends through magazines. To promote the new Fanta flavour, the agency developed a special “lickable” advertisement--clearly only one medium could fit that message.
According to Steel, print still has a big role to play, although she stressed the importance of digital, particularly as a “message multiplier.” But it always needs to fit the strategy, she added.
Similarly, Mark Uncles, deputy dean and professor of marketing at UNSW Business School in Sydney, said he believes print and digital can co-exist, with glossy print campaigns often working well to drive people online for further engagement.
“The extent to which it works depends on whether people reading a magazine or newspaper are exposed to other media,” Uncles said.
The cachet of a glossy print publication has lingered over the past decade, Uncles said, and many blended print-digital campaigns still benefit from that.
However, he acknowledged that “with digital you can check if the audience is being delivered,” whereas print engagement is far harder to measure and often remains an article of faith.