The words “interactive print media” may sound like an oxymoron, but for some of the most progressive minds on Madison Avenue, making print interactive is a logical and much needed step forward for the entire publishing industry.
Print advertisements have always had a place in the the CMO’s repertoire of marketing tactics, and, in the future, the “right” print ads will continue to be as relevant as ever – if not more so.
By “right” we mean that some print advertisements will become critical touch-points linked into a far more integrated campaign strategy involving the Web, social networks, mobile applications, games, media and other forms emerging technologies that are grabbing mind-share from regular people all over the world. Transversely, the “wrong” print ads, or the ones that fail to connect us to other things in the sphere of buying, sharing or creating, will be those stand-alone static pieces that leave us with no actionable thoughts.
The trick is, print media needs to be viewed as a physical link to the digital, mobile world. Physical media is obviously important and not going away, but just as people can quickly and gracefully float back and forth between their physical and digital lives, we all are coming to expect the same from the advertisements we find appealing; subconsciously at first, but quite consciously when the advertisements fail to acknowledge our version of the “real” world that is mobile, digital and bricks & mortar all at once. Physical and digital are really one and the same for today’s youth. For example, walking down the street while surfing the mobile web or checking email is about as commonplace as seeing billboards, posters and signs. Sitting on a bench while reading a magazine, texting with friends and updating multiple social networks is equally common – and we all of these things are often happening simultaneously or within two minute bursts of one another. Thus, time, place, location, social networks and internal thoughts are more relevant than ever to advertisers. Smart publishers will notice that they could have an extremely valuable component to the marketing influence equation.
The point is, why shouldn’t print get interactive? The rest of our lives are dynamic, mobile, tied to the Web and highly social (even if we mean in a physically isolated, but constantly connected kind of way). Print is a great way to market products and services, but just about every product we buy nowadays has an Internet component that we, as users and consumers, want to explore.
Now, this post is not intended to suggest that all print will be relevant; it won’t. As we can clearly see, many print media businesses are facing mammoth challenges in their models, reader loyalty and advertiser satisfaction. Some “old” media organizations are taking a hard-line against rapid change, but most are struggling to figure out the nuances of getting things done right and fast enough to make a difference. Ultimately, we believe that the transition will occur in phases and stages that ought to be carefully thought out, although quickly implemented. For starters, there are some easy ways to knit together existing print campaigns with opt-in calls to action, simple tie-ins to the Web and no changes to the business process around the print publishing side of ads. By approaching the need to get interactive from a practical, yet aggressive standpoint, print businesses could not only stave off dwindling ad revenues, but actually carve out some valuable territory in the future of interactive mobile commerce. Further, by leveraging existing distribution, readership, direct sales forces and a longstanding tradition of producing relevant content to complement the advertisers that support any given publication, print publishers and marketers could actually stand out as leaders and significant connectors for both the readers and advertisers they serve.
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