360 Degree Media Group Blog

Print Or Digital Newspaper Advertising: How Should You Choose?

Posted by Amy Baker on Apr 15, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Like most everything else, newspaper advertising seems to be increasingly going down the digital route. For the past few years, major newspaper publishers in Australia and all over the world have been speaking out against the alarming loss of print advertising revenue as businesses choose to follow the digital trend.

Internet advertising revenue in Australia is growing by leaps and bounds, even exceeding ad expenditures for other media like TV and newspapers. But just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean that you should; before you decide how to spend your business’ advertising budget, it’s important to understand the different benefits or weaknesses of print versus digital newspapers.

Print Or Digital Newspaper Advertising

Is print newspaper better or worse than digital? Aren’t they basically the same?

Print newspapers have long been part of the leisurely morning routine. Before tablets and smartphones invaded our lives, people made time to read the newspaper over breakfast, even if it was only to browse through the headlines and their favourite sections before they went off to work. Newspapers were crucial sources of timely and relevant information and they were read mostly by those who had spending power. It was not (and still isn’t) easy to establish a significant newspaper readership; therefore, in order to survive, newspaper publishers had to make sure that they were offering something of value to keep their readers buying their issues day by day.

Digital newspapers, on the other hand, feed into the contemporary demand for convenience and mobility. Digital newspapers are digested on the fly, in those spare moments while you were in line at the coffee shop or while waiting out a particularly nasty traffic jam. Digital newspapers used to be perceived as inferior versions of their print counterparts, especially before anyone figured out how to monetize this platform. However, many can now be considered as worthy contenders for the more traditional print especially since many are also being published by the same major print newspaper outfits.


Print circulation versus digital views

In the case of print ads, it’s all about circulation. The number of readers that you ad eventually reaches depends on how circulated the newspaper is. And even then, you can’t be sure of making an impact, because well-read publications simply have a wide audience and not every one of them will be your target market.

Digital ads, on the other hand, are admirably equipped for selective exposure, so you can really make the most of ad campaign impact for every dollar spent. Thanks to user algorithms, a business advertiser has greater control over who sees the ad, so you end up wasting less money on advertising to people who have no interest in what you are offering. Interactivity and prolonged engagement is also a major advantage here: a digital banner ad can draw the user in and lead him to click on your website, which can lead to browsing page after page. If the user likes what he sees (and if he has a perceived legitimate need for what you can provide), then you’ve got a sale—just like that.

And it’s not just the big brands who can afford to advertise digitally; unlike print advertising which has flat-fee rates, digital advertising costs tend to be more flexible.

 Print or Digital Newspaper Advertising

Does that mean digital is always better, all of the time?

On the face of it, there seems to be an overwhelming argument in favour of digital advertising. Surprisingly however, despite the growing popularity of digital ads, it would seem that contemporary consumers are still highly influenced by print advertising. Last year, the Australia Post conducted a survey of over 9,500 Australians to determine how advertising channels influence their purchase decisions and it was revealed that the top five channels considered most effective are still “traditional media”; press advertising took the #3 spot, trumping online display advertising which stood at #9. Apparently, the physical element offered by print media is still well-received by customers.

A lot of it has to do with how print newspapers still maintain a high level of editorial vigour: because of the limits of space (which digital papers don’t have to worry about), print editors are forced to put more editorial thought into content. Print is also more permanent than webpages too, so there’s less room for mistakes, prompting writers to focus on information delivery and quality writing. This subconscious perception of superior content also translates to ads; it’s no accident that newspaper ads just feel more “credible”.


Let your audience decide:

Perhaps instead of asking the question ‘Is it better to advertise in print newspapers or digital?’ what you should be considering is ‘Should I advertise in print newspapers or online newspapers?’ Identify your target market and what they read; does the get-up-and-go lifestyle of digital publications appeal more to them or do they still prefer the steady comfort of an actual broadsheet? Also ask yourself what you need to accomplish through your ad campaigns: it is to spread the word about who you are, what you can offer? Is it to encourage potential leads to contact you?


On a superficial level, it would seem that digital newspapers offer everything that their printed counterparts do, down to the overall look and feel of the news brand. Tablets and smartphones have been admirably adapted to reading digital news, and flipping through the different pages is no longer as unwieldy as it used to be. Surveys of digital newspaper readers revealed that they experienced the same level of pleasure and engagement with e-papers and they had with print. But despite similarities in experience, the fact is that print and digital media advertising serve different purposes for the business owner because they reach out to different demographic groups. While there may be quite a lot of overlap since many consumers read both print and digital newspapers, each version reaches unique segments of the population in a way that the other doesn’t.


To discuss which platform will work better for you, get in contact with The 360 Degree Marketing Group today. Simply visit: http://www.360degreemarketing.com.au/contact-us/ or call us on: +61 (2) 8302 4200


For information on how you can measure the success of your marketing campaign, and how to tie advertising spend back to sales - check out our latest ebook on Closed-Loop Marketing by clicking the link below:

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Topics: digital versus print advertising, newspaper advertising