Juan Señor, President of global media consultancy Innovation Consulting, gives his ten pressing concerns for print.
1_PRINT DEAD? JUST A FABLE…
As new technologies arise, we love to conjure up and highlight fables, including the idea that print is dead. It’s not. The notion that one medium kills another is simply not true. If print were a platform, I’d say ‘Yes, it’s dead. RIP print,” because there’s no language there, no medium. But print as a medium has permanence. It’s eternal.
2_PRINT WILL FIND ITS PLACE
When films arrived many years ago, there was talk that theatre would die. But what we saw was a transition through disruption. We’ve seen this repeatedly throughout history – and for 25 years or more in digital. It also applies to print. We’ve transported this successful, text-based medium online, and once digital finally finds its own language, print will rediscover its future within that mix.
3_DISPLACEMENT BEATS REPLACEMENT
First comes disruption, then displacement. The web has managed to move into the newspaper space and newspapers have moved into the magazine space. The fact is, you can’t keep flogging the same, tired old horse and not reinvent your product.
4_PREMIUM MEANS PRICIER
Within the print space, the ‘play’ is to make it ever-more premium. Take Versace. It produces very few dresses in the £100,000 price bracket, yet these remain its flagship product. Print has to be reinvented as the premium choice, to have beautiful design, in a larger format, and be a keepsake. And premium must be pricier.
5_FLAT IS THE NEW UP
Everybody’s talking about the decline in print circulations. And yes, they will decline. Anybody who pretends they won’t is either naïve or nostalgic. But they’re not falling off a cliff edge. Eventually, circulations will flatten out at a stable, but still lucrative, level.
6_LESS OFTEN, MORE ‘LEAN BACK’
The big, complicated, ever-evolving issue, particularly for newspapers, is frequency. Take FT Weekend. It’s a delicious, quality product that’s perfect for print. It arrives on a Friday and you spend the entire weekend reading it. You hear about the ‘lean-back experience’, but if you’re going to succeed, you have to provide something that’s genuinely ‘lean back’, like the FT Weekend.
7_BRAND BUILDING? USE PRINT
It’s not great for clients to have their brands associated with fake news, so the leading industry voices are singing print’s praises. For brand finding, digital trumps print every time. But for brand building, when you’re relaunching an entire proposition, print wins.
8_THE DIGITAL FRENZY IS ABSURD
As P&G’s Marc Pritchard has said, the misguided flip to digital spending isn’t working. This cycle needs to be rebalanced, because it’s evident that many millions of pounds aren’t performing. And they’re not performing because there’s this tremendous fraud. You may reach a million people, but you will reach a million people for a quarter of a second, as opposed to 100,000 for 10 or 20 seconds.
9_PRINT UNDERPINS CAMPAIGNS
When it comes to awards, the traditional categories for print and publishing are getting reframed not because advertising interest in those categories is dying. We should be looking at the fact that many campaigns are now integrated and, in many cases, anchored in prestigious print work.
10_TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE DUOPOLY
We’ve been playing defence for far too long. Google and Facebook have cornered £70bn of ad space globally, but their longevity is not guaranteed. Print has an important role to fill as the situation evolves, and if that means anchoring more campaigns in paper, so be it.
Image credit: Print Power
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