The Press is Dead, Long Live The Press!

Following ten years of monitoring advertising response, Mediahawk has been at the forefront of proving that classified adverts in traditional media, such as the local press, do not necessarily justify the spend that has been attributed to them. With the rise of Google and classified directory sites, more and more advertisers have ditched traditional media and put their marketing spend online.

Whilst traditional media may be down, it’s most certainly not out. In this article, we will look at why you shouldn’t be ignoring traditional press but in fact using it in a tactical way to generate response.

The printed word in Europe started with the Guttenberg Press around the 1430’s and it has been the primary means of communications ever since. However, with the introduction of the internet, its role in information provision is seriously under threat, especially with the advent of devices such as tablets and e-readers.

Whist there may be a threat to the printed word this doesn’t mean it has no part to play in your advertising schedule. The key to using the press for advertising is to follow some basic steps:

  • Understand your audience
  • Measure your response
  • Use good creative
  • Negotiate proper rates for the advertising

Let’s take a look at each of these elements in more depth:

Understand your audience

The reason companies advertise is that they want to put their message in front of the audience being provided to them by a targeted media company. The more a media company can provide information on the audience, the more an advertiser will be interested in accessing this audience – if it fits with the product or service they are looking to promote.

The challenge that traditional media faces is that, unlike the internet, they have little knowledge of their audience and their needs. A website can provide instant feedback on how many visitors they have and can also profile their behaviour.

Traditional media companies have been woefully slow in really understanding their audience and then selling this to advertisers. However, where there is a niche publication with a targeted audience that still uses traditional press then this should be looked at as an opportunity to take advantage of.

A classic example of this is Country Life that still runs a significant amount of property advertising, despite the growth in online property sites. The reason for this is that Country Life’s readership are rich A1 customers who still read magazines and therefore respond to the adverts within their publications.

Measure your response

Measurement is key in deciding whether an advert should be repeated. However, many advertisers do not make the most of all the measurement tools at their disposal (if any are used at all) and therefore can mis-attribute whether an advert has been successful or not. When advertising in traditional press make sure that you do the following:

  • Provide a unique telephone number for the advert
  • Provide a unique email address for the advert
  • If pointing to a website, make sure there is a reference/voucher code within the body text so that people can enter this to get the deal that is being offered
  • Provide exclusive deals in the press and create separate landing pages e.g. ‘’. Make sure that the copy in the advert makes this exclusivity clear.

Use good creative

Never underestimate the power of a good offer and creative. The problem is that a lot of call-to-actions within advertising have become either too bland or too clever.

If the advertising is creative and used in sequence with a measurable strategy then this will generate response. If you are reusing old copy with updated photos don’t be surprised if you get no response. There is no point blaming the quality of the publication when you should shoot the proverbial copy!

Negotiate proper rates for advertising

Traditional media companies have been very slow at reducing their advertising rates in response to the cost of using alternative channels. As a result, they have seen their classified and direct response adverts tumble and advertisers have moved over to more online methods, such as PPC and Social Media.

However, in recent years it has become noticeable that traditional media outlets are becoming much more receptive to slashing their rates in recognition of the alternative channels. This is particularly true of one off tactical adverts. Thus, if you have advertising copy at your disposal and are ready to commit, you will surprise yourself with what you can get away with.

Traditional media has done a very poor job of being competitive in a fast changing environment and as a result they have seen their advertising levels collapse calamitously. However, this does not mean that traditional press and magazines should not have a part to play within your advertising schedule as long as they are being properly monitored with a good creative and the right price!

Do all of this and you will find traditional media is not a wasted effort as part of your overall marketing plan.

How are you finding your traditional media and print advertising efforts? Are they paying off, could they be better, or have you ditched it altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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