14 . 04 . 21

Could performance metrics boost the case for print?

Words by: Print Power
If print advertising was armed with the same metrics to measure success that digital boasts, would agencies be more likely to include it in the marketing mix? Ludovic Martin thinks so. That’s why he’s created a simulator that concludes the ROAS of print is three to 10 times higher than that of Google Ads, Facebook or email marketing…

Over the past 10 years, digital strategy and eCommerce consultant Ludovic Martin has observed that marketing departments have been blinded what he calls the ‘mirage’ of digital advertising effectiveness. And all at the expense of print. ‘Google AdWords, advertising on Facebook or Instagram and email campaigns are seductive because of their ease, their apparent low cost, and their apparent ‘magic’ profitability,’ he explains. ‘But in terms of return on investment, I was already convinced when I was a marketing director that the figures were overestimated, and that a good print campaign performs better. The problem is that web marketing advertising platforms have developed their own indicators, to make other channels - including print – obsolete.’

Martin has worked in eCommerce for more than 20 years, firstly for advertising agencies, and then as an expert in web-to-print solutions for some of Europe’s leading printers. He’s now an independent consultant and runs the Print.Watch blog dedicated to online printing and web-to-print. Here, he tells us why he’s convinced that the best way to strengthen an ad campaign is for digital and print to work in tandem.

In your recent blog, you present a way to measure the success of print campaigns in the form of a return on advertising spend (ROAS) simulator. Can you explain how you did this? 

I wanted to compare the performance of print packaging and direct marketing against the indicators of AdWords or Facebook Ads, in particular the sacrosanct ROAS. It is calculated by dividing ad spend by how much business it generates. I created an Excel simulator where I integrated the various costs and estimated the results by channel on the basis either of average market indicators, or from my own experience. The result is clear: print is much more efficient than web marketing in generating turnover.           

It has been traditionally difficult to quantify the effectiveness of print. Was this the inspiration behind the simulator? 

 It all started with a meeting with one of my clients. Their web marketing agency presented them with tables of indicators that nobody understood, and with returns on investments that shocked me. I alerted my client to the fact that each month he was spending more on Google and Facebook until he reached a budget of €10,000 per month! That’s huge! The problem is, he was blinded by the visits generated, and that made him afraid to change the acquisition channel in case he lost audience share. So I decided to give him a mathematical comparison to show him that by spreading his budget over several channels, he could increase his turnover. He was convinced by my figures, so we set up a direct mail operation and sent a printed magazine to his customers. The results were up to par. This is what made me want to share this experience and this simulator on my blog.           

Your conclusion: the ROAS of print is three to 10 times higher than that of Google Ads, Facebook Ads or cold emailing. Why do you think this is? 

Today, web ad bids have increased so much that in some industries, clicks can cost $10 to $15. For that price, you only have one visitor who hasn't learned anything about your business or brand. For the same price, you can send a beautiful, personalized mailing, which will speak to the customer about brand values and initiate a long-term relationship. Print has more power than ‘disposable’ web advertising, as long as you use it at the right time in the purchasing journey. However, the marketers have a false image of it. They think it’s complicated, expensive and slow. We have to convince them that you can create fantastic things with printing, quickly and inexpensively. There’s also a myth that unlike digital campaigns, print is not compatible with data. We have to show them that print blends perfectly with data. 


Why is print a worthy partner to digital in an ad campaign? 

It’s not a question of print and digital working in opposition. I campaign to use the right media at the right time. At each stage of the buying journey, you have to use the right channel to maximize the performance of advertising campaigns. In terms of loyalty, ‘Moment of Truth’ and explanation, print is much more powerful than the other channels. It is a long-lasting medium, unlike the web, which is a medium of the moment. 

Are printers aware of the benefits of print?

I don’t believe so. Printers limit themselves to being producers who are waiting to be given jobs. They must regain the ground that digital has taken from them, and for that, they must use the same weapons as digital. It will take a lot of education and effort. They also need to understand how their customers are spending their budget and convince them to make better use of their money. They must stop positioning themselves as a subcontractor and instead, become multichannel marketing consultants where in some cases they advise digital, and in other cases, print.

At the recent Future Print Media Conference, it was suggested that printers need to invest in: 1. IT, 2. Data and 3. More intense customer connections. How do printers score? Are they ready for the future? 

On these three points, many printers are lagging behind. But the health crisis made them aware of the urgent need to develop an IT strategy for themselves and for their customers, to develop the use of data and to strengthen their ties with their customers. It’s all so new to them. That's why through my  blog, I try to help them by providing them with suggestions and ideas.

Read more about Ludovic’s findings at Print.Watch