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The State of Print: A Brief Philosophy for 2019

January 8, 2019    |     Lindsay Jawor

Nearly a century and a half ago, Nietzsche said “God is dead.” But most philosophers will argue that he wasn’t celebrating this fact. Without a fundamental basis for morality, Nietzsche was very concerned that society would fall into despair. While atheism and nihilism would inevitably make some people’s lives much easier, he worried that it would also destroy the core values of human existence.

And this is exactly how publishers, marketers, writers, and advertisers are looking at print. Yes, it likely seems a giant leap to compare the “death” of God to the “death” of print, but if we’re honest with ourselves, print has been godlike in its power over marketing for decades. Without it, a huge void appears in the way we communicate as human beings.

According to
Quocirca, a leader in print research and consultancy, “70% of industry executives expect a major business model disruption by 2025,” but only 31% feel that their businesses are ready for this massive change. The projected disruption lies almost exclusively in the digitalization of marketing and communication, thus the fate of print hangs in the balance.

So what was Nietzsche's proposed answer to his terrible forecast? To look inwardly for spiritual sustenance. And similarly, we as advertisers and marketers must look dig deeper and discover what truly serves us in order to continue to succeed in our individual businesses.

At this point we ask the big question: is print really dead? No. Not even close. Especially not when it comes to magazines. The chart below (from Statista) shows that magazine revenue is actually trending slightly upward from 2011:

Furthermore, the frontrunners in print magazines right now are special interest magazines:

Special interest means niche, so the magazines that are pushing forward are those specializing in very specific topics. Of those, it’s clear that one group is at a clear advantage over the rest: B2B magazines. As we all know, there’s nothing on Earth more niche than B2B publications. They specifically target very small demographic groups to provide in-depth information that helps business leaders perform more efficiently in their professions.

This information is vital to readers, which is a large part of the continued success behind these print publications. Print is not dead, especially not to industry leaders who appreciate the break from digital tedium to catch up with news and information outside of the digital bubble.

So what does that mean for advertisers? One of the most surprising facts to come out of Statista’s continued research shows that magazine advertising effectiveness is actually on the rise as of June 2017, despite the fact that perception is on the decline.

This may be the benefit hidden in the idea that print is dead. Many advertisers are preemptively cutting their print advertising budgets—but with print very much still alive, those who choose to continue marketing in print are reaping the benefits of decreased competition in print spaces.

With this inward glance, we can begin to make choices that will help us communicate more wholly with our intended audiences. Rather than submitting to fear, we can continue to embrace the “god” of print and ensure that the very soul of our content and marketing doesn’t evaporate.

No, we’re not suggesting that anyone should throw their entire advertising budget into the print ring. All we’re asking, just as Nietzsche implied, is to have a little faith.

For information about advertising in print to professionals in the innovation, discovery, design, manufacturing, and/or distribution spaces, contact Advantage Business Marketing today.


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