21 . 09 . 18

Mix it up, please!

Words by: Print Power
Online videos and social media are the most effective channels, right? Media insider Rouven Dankert riffs about digital groupthink and reveals how print media can fetch an ROI of 130 percent.
Print Power Rouven Dankert Independent Media Guides_1.jpg

The power of print at a glance

  • Print is more effective than online – contrary to the general view.
  • Print advertising achieves an ROI of 120-130 percent.
  • Classic media KPI’s disregard qualitative factors such as acceptance and trust.
  • Mixed campaigns that include print are far more effective than mono-campaigns.

For over 20 years, auditor and consultant Rouven Dankert has made sure that marketing budgets are spent as efficiently – and effectively – as possible. We asked the founder of Hamburg’s Independent Media Guides how best to use print as an effective advertising tool.

Rouven, when it comes to print, reality and perception are worlds apart. A study by Ebiquity shows that print is far more effective than it’s given credit for by media planners. Why this erroneous group think?

I’m afraid this attitude to print is widespread, and it doesn’t only exist on the corporate side. “Digital drunkenness” – to use a term coined by former Mindshare boss Christoph Baron – doesn’t only affect companies, it affects agencies too. Corporate marketing bosses are under digital pressure, having to explain why they DON’T invest in digital on a certain scale. Those who promote print, on the other hand, have difficulty tallying rising prices with falling circulation numbers. All of which doesn’t make it easier for print as a medium.

How do companies respond to this? Are they still open to print?

From where I stand, companies are still very open to a well-differentiated media strategy aimed at long-lasting brand building – a strategy developed with creative and media agencies. However, companies are critical of rising prices against a background of falling circulation numbers and the corresponding hike in CPM. Publishers have some more explaining to do here. They need to make sure prices change in sync with circulation.

We live in a digital age where it seems that social media is de rigueur. How can print stand out in this universe? Or is print, like all other media, at its best when it works in concert with other channels?

Absolutely. Studies have shown that the interplay with other media has significant effectiveness upsides when compared to mono-campaigns. This is just as true for print as it is for all other media. Incidentally, changes in how media are used has impacted the reach not only of print, but of TV as well. However, across the board, print has a credibility and acceptance bonus, which some publishers extend digitally – with remarkable skill and success.

Does the ROI reflect this?

Yes. According to a cross media study by Germany’s research institute GfK, print advertising in newspapers and magazines had the highest ROI when compared to radio, TV and online banners. The study found print ROI running at 120 to 130 per cent. This means: every pound spent on print advertising yields an average return of £1.20 to £1.30.

Can we have a more detailed breakdown? What are the strengths of different print sub-genres? Let’s start with daily newspapers – the print channel with the highest turnover.

First off, the market likes to think that efficiency is equal to low CPM and discounted offers. I, however, wouldn’t determine the strength of a medium by its efficiency alone, but by a combination of efficiency and effectiveness. The strength of daily newspapers is marked by rapid cumulative reach in high earning target demographics. In addition, against a backdrop of fake news and global Twitter politics, daily papers’ credibility and function as a signpost is another strength. These values reflect well on print ads and the companies which place them in this environment.

And what about newsstand magazines and other print genres?

A particular strength of newsstand magazines is that they target their demographics very precisely, and with minimal loss through diffusion. Direct marketing and advertising supplements on a micro-marketing level enable very finely-calibrated regional targeting that is highly relevant to retailers such as high street grocers. These channels are close to consumers who have become accustomed to this kind of advertising and who – apart rom “advertising refuseniks” – have accepted them as a valuable source of information. Magazines such as “Landlust”, the German magazine for country living, hit a nerve and are perfect examples of successfully responding to the current demand for feel-good titles. At the moment, so-called testimonial and personality magazines such as “Barbara” are in, setting new trends. Print offers great targeting potential combined with high credibility and a haptic reading experience.

Let’s look more closely at efficiency. Everybody wants efficiency. But what exactly does that mean? Which KPI’s are relevant?

At least in my book, efficiency equals maximising ROI. That said, it’s really important to consciously differentiate between different dimensions such as awareness and sales. Depending on the industry and how established an advertiser is, the cost per additional awareness point and cost per contract can lie far apart. Classical media KPI’s such as reach and CPM are, after all, only a means to an end, and don’t always do print justice.

Could you elaborate?

With pleasure. “Last click counts” attribution models systemically over-value digital by a wide margin, as important as this medium is. For a fair cross-media comparison, the market standards of contact quality and effectiveness should also be considered, and these depend quite significantly on the creative as well as its environment. In print as a medium, the titles themselves constitute a brand. They can reflect positively on the ads placed in them and offer a very intensive, close-contact experience. Advertisers should, in a constructive way, hold their media agencies to account – and factor in learnings from countless agency modellings when formulating their strategies.

Does the good name of print titles also help with brand safety?

Most definitely. Brand safety, which has quite rightly been much discussed recently, isn’t an issue for established print media and their digital extensions. This is a clear advantage when it comes to cross-media comparison – and one that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Presumably, there’s no upper limit. But at which scale are print budgets effective? Is it at all possible to be efficient when budgets are small?

Depending on the target group definition and the campaign ask, “smaller” budgets deployed in themed media can be used in a way that’s not only impactful, but als very efficient AND effective – for example in bespoke productions. Publishers are highly creative in this area, supporting customised, co-operative solutions for their customers. I’m also saying this because we have a unique insight into the print market thanks to our monitoring partners AdVision Digital – an insight into the creation and development of print ads and PR activities. Nevertheless, in view of the very different circulation figures of print titles and the corresponding pricing structures, it wouldn’t be  very professional on my part to give you a specific minimum investment.

Every pound spent on print advertising yields an average return of £1.20 to £1.30
Rouven Dankert
Media planner & CEO, Independent Media Guides

Let’s go back to the way credible print titles reflect well on advertisers. This advantage only endures when print media respond to the zeitgeist and respond to the ever-changing demands of the audience. Is Germany’s  publishing universe sufficiently innovative to meet these expectations?

New and successful magazines keep popping up all the time in which advertisers can position themselves effectively. As regards print’s capacity to innovate, Gruner + Jahr surely sets a benchmark: in the last three and a half years, the publisher has brought more than twenty print magazines to market. Of course, these included magazines that were later discontinued. But there are great successes, too, such as “Barbara” or the health mag “stern gesund leben”. And so Gruner + Jahr demonstrates that innovation also involves having the guts to mess up and learn from the experience; to try things out and give new ideas a chance. At the same time, they demonstrate that there are innovative ideas in print that can be wildly successful. An ad in IKEA’s customer magazine “Amelia” is a conspicuous example: the Swedish furniture giant offered special discounts to pregnant women, asking them to prove their pregnancy by peeing on a specially-prepped page in the mag!

Before you go, can you give us three tips on how companies can make their print advertising even more efficient? And what could publishers and agencies do better?

Okay. Tip 1: Integration into a multi-channel strategy, depending on target group. For example, print plus digital. Tip 2: attention-grabbing, innovative advertising supplements which make full use of the haptic advantages of print – taking into account a suitable price premium. Tip 3: be specific on where your ad should be placed. The quality of an ad’s environment matters.

Anything else?

Publishers – and especially agencies, whose role it is to give give advice – have to make available objective research which clearly demonstrates the contribution print makes to effectiveness. Advertisers have every right to demand a reliable basis on which to plan their media budget. Compared to proactive industry events such as the Screenforce Days for TV or Dmexco for digital, print seems to have resigned itself to being on the defensive. Here, it’s important to highlight innovative initiatives such as the G+J e|MS advertising environment planner .

Last but not least: which print channels have the brightest future, especially for advertising vehicles?

Channels that consistently maintain their added value in the form of quality journalism, establish their target group positioning on a solid footing, and successfully extend their offering digitally, be it as e-papers, newsfeeds or via social media. The future business model will be a combination of paid-for content and advertising revenue. In addition, I see great potential for premium, haptically-appealing lifestyle-, beauty- and luxury titles which are practically cut out for advertisers from these segments. The appeal to a narrowly defined target groups leads to a mutual image transfer between publications, advertisers and advertised products. And that’s a win-win situation.