The Ghostbusters Were Wrong: Why Print Isn’t Dead

We’ve all heard the news—PRINT ADVERTISING IS DEAD—and has been for a long time. Egon Spengler, media-astute Ghostbuster, even made the declaration on the big screen more than 30 years ago.

We hate to pit the Ghostbusters against our B2B food and ingredient media partners—who are telling us that print advertising isn’t dead, that it is, in fact, an asset—but we will.

Our media partners offer data showing that their readers still want paper. Here are a few stats from our friends at various food industry trade publications:

  • Ninety-six percent of B2B professionals read print publications.
  • In the foodservice segment, 85 percent of readers find print magazines to be a valuable source of information.
  • In the food processing space, 89 percent of readers took action after viewing ads in magazines—actions like visiting the advertiser’s website, requesting more information, and even recommending the purchase of a product.

Obviously, print advertising isn’t literally dead, but is its decrease as panic-worthy as some perceive it to be? The year that Ghostbusters came out, only 8% of U.S. households had a computer; the internet as we know it was, for all intents and purposes, sci-fi. Even ten years ago, less than 30 percent of people had smartphones. Today, more than 85 percent of households have a computer, and our research strategist, Matt, is the only person I know who still uses what he often refers to as a “dumb phone.”

Given the large-scale shift toward digital media consumption, print advertising now competes for dollars with an always-growing list of marketing options: social media, video advertising, email campaigns, native content marketing, webinars, etc. Admittedly, ROI on print advertising is harder to calculate than its digital counterparts, but difficulty in calculating results does not negate print’s value. Depending on your business and brand goals, print can be a critical part of your marketing mix. Here are a few things we help customers accomplish through print advertising:

1. Building Brand Awareness

Repeat exposure to a brand ensures that it’s top of mind when purchasing decisions are being made, linking a high level of brand awareness directly to increased sales.

  • Readers are 70 percent more likely to recall a company name from a print ad than a digital ad.
  • Sixty percent of food trade publication subscribers rely on print advertisements to learn of new product offerings.

2. Establishing Thought Leadership

Print ads can be positioned next to relevant editorial content, which offers two benefits to the advertiser:

  • If a busy professional takes the time to read a magazine article, he or she has a vested interest in the topic and, therefore, may be an ideal match for your product or service offering. Strike while the iron is hot, as they say, by ensuring your advertisement is seen while the reader is already engaging with content on a related topic.
  • Aligning print advertising with relevant editorial positions a brand as a thought leader on the topic. Oftentimes, editors will include quotes and information from advertisers within editorial content, furthering this positioning.

3. Establishing Reference Points

In the food industry, where print publications experience a particularly long shelf life, many people keep old issues of magazines to reference later. If your ad is there, it will continue to increase brand awareness and serve as a reference point for buyers. MarketPlace’s very own CMO has witnessed, on several occasions, food industry contacts pulling out old issues of trade publications to reference companies, ingredients, and technologies that caught their interest.

While print may not make sense for every brand’s objectives, it is certainly alive and well and can be a meaningful part of an integrated marketing plan. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch to find out how print advertising might fit into your marketing plan.

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