Print or TV? The Media that Won the Battle for Your Advertising Dollars?

By Matt Janaway

Want to use unconventional media? Would it be print or TV?

That’s right—online advertising has become so common that people are beginning to consider blogs and social media as traditional media. Print, TV, Radio, or outdoor are now perceived as “unconventional,” because fewer people are using them. And that’s precisely the reason old media are becoming effective again.

Let’s compare print and TV, and see which one of them works best for your business.

Print Media

“Brands should be looking at print as an opportunity right now to get attention right now,” says Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute. The words may be a surprise for many, coming from a the father of digital content marketing at a time when some major print publications have already shut down for lack of business. But a closer look reveals that print is back with a bang.

It appears that the explosive growth of the internet caught everyone by surprise. As people started consuming more digital media, marketers diverted resources from the (actual) traditional media. Print was the biggest sufferer. However, print did not die, as many people thought (or are still thinking). It just evolved. After years of losses and negative growth, the global print industry is showing signs of recovery, simply because more businesses are beginning to use print media again.

Advantages of Print Media

Print Has Good ROI: A cross-media study conducted last year, print media had the highest ROI—120% or €120 earned for each €100 spent. The study compared five media channels—newsprint, magazines, radio, TV, and online banners.

Print is Physical: Your customers can touch and feel print unlike other media. That’s probably why print leaves deeper impressions on people’s mind. A postcard or coupon that you receive in the mail excites you more than if you were to see it online.

Print is Targeted: With print media, you can precisely reach your target audience. Magazines, newspaper sections, leaflet distribution, and direct mail can be targeted with pinpoint accuracy. The same cannot be said of other media.

Print is Convenient: Internet users have short attention spans. People may find it taxing to read complex information online. Print is something people can engage with at leisure. This makes print perfect for disseminating detailed information.

Print is Flexible: Unlike the fixed TV or online advertising formats, print gives you unlimited options for customization. You can use many different types of magazine and newspaper ads, send out direct mail or inserts, and design your printed material any way you like.

People Want Print: Disagree? Ask someone who sits before a monitor for 8 hours a day. Digital media have become so pervasive there are times when you want to unplug and relax. Print is the best alternative during such breaks.

Limitations of Print Media

Print is Motionless: The biggest limitation of print media is that it cannot deliver sound and motion. Hence, you might still have to rely on electronic media such as online videos or TVCs for distributing certain types of information.

Print is Slow: Your audience takes more time to respond when you make your offer using print media. People may keep your brochure or catalog for months before they call your business. Print is also slower to reach audience compared to TV, radio or Internet.

You Cannot Target By Demographics: Unlike online media, print media does not allow you to select your audience by demographics—age, gender, income, etc. You can get around this problem by geo-targeting your campaign for locations where your desired age- or income-group is likely to be present.

TV Media

TV has been a strong advertising medium for as long as we can remember. Although the TV’s share of advertising market has been declining since the arrival of digital marketing, but its growth has been largely undeterred. The TV ad-spend in the UK crossed £13bn last year, growing at a rate of 3.1% year-on-year.

But does that mean TV is the right medium for your business? Like most other questions, the answer to this question is also ‘it depends’. A good TV spot can bring your brand to the limelight instantly, but TV advertising is expensive. Local cable TV channels present the best opportunity for small or local businesses. Let’s look at the pros and cons of TV as a marketing medium and see if it works better than print.

Advantages of TV Media

TV is Mass Media: Newspapers and magazines come nowhere close in terms of reach. “Pick,” at the bottom of the top 20 UK based TV channels (by revenue), has a reach of more than 23 million. That’s probably greater than the circulation of all newspapers and magazines combined.

TV if Impactful: Though it may largely depend on the quality of your material. Nothing builds brand image like TV. A product launch led by TV advertising becomes talk-of-the-town overnight. The ability to air motion and sound makes TV stand head over heels above static media (or does it?).

TV is Everywhere: TV is available in every home, most offices, restaurants, even on people’s computers and mobiles. You can rest assured that many people will be watching when your spot is aired, regardless of the time and territory of transmission.

TV is Fast: Or super-fast, should we say. Print is sluggish when it comes to creating awareness or generating leads. TV shows your offer to millions of eyeballs instantly, which makes it the perfect medium when you want to reach the most number of people in least time.

Limitations of TV Media

TV is Pricy: The cost of a 30 second TV spot on ITV starts from £80 (late night, Border region) and can go up to £60K+ depending upon the time of airing and the regions you want to reach. You may need hundreds of spots if you’re looking to make a good impact.

TV is Intrusive: TV advertising usually interrupts people in the middle of their favorite programs. People may not be in a receptive mood to see your commercial at that time, and may switch channels or just take a bathroom break.

TV is Rigid: It is very hard to modify or update TV content. With print or online advertising, you can quickly make the changes to your ad—include a special offer, extend the date, or insert a coupon. With a TV ad, this would mean rewriting the script and re-shooting the commercial.

Should a Small Business Use Print or TV

You are probably already using some form of print media regardless of the size or type of your business. Most businesses use cards, flyers, classified ads, posters, etc quite effectively, without going overboard with the budget. Print has a lot going for it if you need to make a choice. It has the flexibility and accuracy that allows small business owners to control the cost, while still reaping a high ROI.

Big brands can literally own TV channels, but for a small business, the decision to advertise on TV must be made carefully. TV advertising can be extremely effective if you’re going to announce a store opening or sale, where immediate returns are expected. But it will burn your marketing budget quicker than any other medium if you use it for building brand image.

To conclude, though print is the small-business medium-of-choice, you should not turn your backs on TV. Even a cheap late-night spot can give your business an edge over your competitors, at least until they also start using TV.

About the Author
I am a digital & online entrepreneur and marketer, specialising in the retail & eCommerce arena. I have built, purchased, optimised and sold in excess of 10 eCommerce businesses with multi-million pound revenues and I’m now heading a team project optimising 30 websites with over 20,000 products. I consider my methods, scientific and incredibly advanced.

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