Will adblocking be opportunity for print media?

Submitted by: Ulbe Jelluma 02/11/2015

The recent interest in online adblocking has started the discussion about the abundance of advertising online. Adblocking offers consumers a way to avoid online advertising and at the same time decreases the exposure of online brand advertising. Will brand owners turn more to print given this trend?

*"Your adblocker will block this advertisement"

A major newspaper and magazine group in The Netherlands and Belgium, De Persgroep, recently placed this ad in a trade magazine to promote its advertising space. It is a great example of the opportunity that lies ahead of print media. With reduced reach of online advertising, brand owners and their media agencies will look into other media to compensate for exposure and effectiveness. Printed newspapers and magazines offer an alternative. Newspapers in most countries have a high reach among large groups of readers and magazines can be used to reach more selective audiences. 

By Q2 2015 198 mio internet users (6% of the global internet population) uses adblocking software. The blocked advertisements represent an advertising value of  $21 billion or 14% of global ad spend (PageFair and Adobe study 2015). In Europe the use of adblocking software differs per country: Germany and Sweden have the highest level of penetration with one out of four active internet users having installed adblocking software. UK (20%), Spain (16%), The Netherlands (14%), Italy (12%) and France (10) follow in the list.

The use of adblocking software has different reasons, internet users might feel the ads to be too intrusive as they are based upon personal data, the sheer number of ads interfering with content and the lack of control are probably the most important. One could also say the online ads lack engagement, a critical factor in being convincing. Print magazines have proven via various studies scoring high on engagement. Magazines are not forcing readers to read the ads, more even readers confirm that advertisements in magazines are part of the magazine content and often add value to the magazine. The reading context is also very different. Online often equals fast and superficial whereas print equals availability of time and depth.

In this challenging situation for online,  print magazines continue to evolve and innovate.

At the recent FIPP World Congress in Toronto some publishers described why their magazines are engaging and successful.  For example the Dutch based magazine Flow. Joyce Nieuwenhuijs, brand director, Flow magazine (Sanoma), described the company’s journey. "She attributes the success of the Flow magazine brand to the vision of its entrepreneurs who have a clear vision for the way the company will evolve – thinking big yet starting small. Flow has built up a loyal and passionate audience in many territories, and now publishes English, German and French editions as well as the original Dutch one. She is also a big believer in the power of paper, rather than it being in decline she stresses that Flow is conquering the world and has huge untapped potential."

"Nieuwenhuijs argued that it was wrong to write off paper. “More and more, paper is shifting from being just a commodity to being a gift. It feels more and more like a luxury; like you’re pampering yourself. Gradually everything from paper starts to have additional value. And therefore we know for sure that paper will never disappear. Print can be a luxury item for people who want things to move slowly. It offers a very real change from reading digital products, giving people’s eyes a break." (source: FIPP).