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05 . 06 . 24

New study: print advertising has highest profit ROI

Words by: Print Power
In the fast-paced, digitally-driven world of advertising, the debate over the value of traditional media versus digital channels is ongoing. However, a study commissioned by Thinkbox provides compelling evidence for the profitability and sustained impact of all forms of advertising. The results prove once again that increasing print advertising share of the media mix will increase the overall profit of the campaign.

The evidence at a glance:

  • Increasing print advertising share of the media mix will increase the overall profit of the campaign
  • Highest profit ROI: print advertising delivers £6.36 in profit for every pound spent, outperforming linear TV and audio.
  • Highest relative profit volume contribution: print represents 3.3% of total ad spend but accounts for 4.8% of overall profit generated.
  • Scalable investment: print has a high saturation point, allowing for increased investment without diminishing returns, second only to TV.

The study, by Thinkbox, the UK marketing body for TV advertising, encompasses an extensive analysis of £1.8 billion in media spend across 141 brands and 14 categories in the UK, making it the most thorough examination of advertising effectiveness to date. The study synthesises data from Ebiquity, EssenceMediacom, Gain Theory, Mindshare, and Wavemaker UK. The findings reveal that advertising is not just a tool for brand awareness but a robust driver of profit growth.

On average, a pound invested in advertising returns just over £4 in profit. But that’s an average across a wide scope of different media investments. 

Importantly, the study highlights that while television leads in overall profit contribution due to its share of advertising expenditures, print advertising delivers the highest return on investment (ROI) in profit.

Print advertising overperformance 

Despite representing only 3,3% of the total advertising investments analysed, advertising in newspapers and magazines account for a remarkable 4,8% of the profit generated. This disproves the notion that print is a declining medium and instead positions it as a highly efficient channel for profit generation.

Specifically, print advertising yields an impressive £6.36 in profit for every pound spent, outperforming other media such as linear TV (£5.94) and audio (£4.98).

Sustained profit contribution

One of the key insights from the study is the importance of sustained advertising efforts.

It was found that 58% of advertising’s total profit generation occurs after the initial 13 weeks. This underscores the long-term value of advertising investments, particularly in traditional media like print, which continue to yield returns well beyond the immediate period.

Additionally, print advertising has the highest relative contribution to profit when considering short-term payback (up to 13 weeks), proving its effectiveness in both the short-term and long-term.


Optimal investment strategies

The study also examines the saturation point for various media channels—the threshold beyond which additional investment does not yield proportionate returns.

Print advertising was found to have one of the highest saturation points, second only to TV. This means that advertisers can invest more heavily in print without diminishing returns, highlighting its capacity for scalability and sustained profitability.


Implications for agencies and advertisers

For advertising and media agencies, as well as advertisers, these findings are a call to re-evaluate the role of print in their media mix. The evidence presented in "Profit Ability 2" makes a strong case for integrating print advertising in media mix. 

The results confirm other facts which, despite the limited use of newspaper and magazine advertising, demonstrate that print advertising is a powerful and underestimated complement to digital or TV-centered campaigns.

There continues to be a lack of awareness of the performance of print media. A previous Ebiquity study mentioned the discrepancy between the real performance of print media and the perception of marketers and advertising and media professionals.

This lack of awareness is most likely one of the main reasons for the limited use of advertising in newspapers and magazines.

The high profit ROI and prolonged impact of print advertising make it a valuable component for achieving both short-term gains and sustained profit growth.

For more detailed insights and to explore how print advertising can enhance your campaigns, refer to the full study commissioned by Thinkbox and conducted by Ebiquity and its partners. 

Thinkbox plans to present the full results during summer including a detailed sector analysis.

Click here for the study.