In the last decade we have seen a huge amount of growth in the digital advertising space. Due to this, people often consider print a ‘dead’ form of advertising, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. While digital has taken over a number of spaces where print advertising once reigned supreme, print advertising has been evolving and in some areas actually outpaces the success rate of digital ads by a wide margin. So, let’s look at these two forms of advertising individually to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

Print Advertising

print advertising

Print advertising is a form of traditional advertising that, as the name suggests, includes any form of advertising that can be printed. It includes the obvious with posters, flyers and banners, but also covers not so obvious things like pens, calendars, bottle labels, event tickets, and so much more. Print advertising is no longer confined being purely ink printed on paper, but has evolved into a more flexible advertising medium where you can print on almost anything you can touch.

Pros of Print advertising

  • More engaged audience: People who buy magazines are much more engaged readers and are more likely to respond positively to a well-placed/designed ad.
  • Physical branding: Print advertising lets customers have a tactile experience with your branding. Here you can use different stocks, print finishings and unique inks to convey your unique branding to your target audience.
  • People are more likely to take action from a print ad. RAMetrics found in their research that audiences are more likely to take an action after seeing a print ad (1). These actions can include going to the company website, intention to purchase, and giving recommendations and discussions.
  • Can reach specific audiences: Advertising in magazines that focus on specific niches/industries allows you to target more specific demographics.
  • Print ads tend to be easier to understand: Print catalogues are easier to read than digital, consumers are also more likely to make a purchasing action after looking through a hardcopy catalogue.
  • Seen as more trustworthy by older demographics.

Cons of Print advertising

  • Price: Can be expensive to advertise, especially in magazines where the price is dependent on the size of ad. In saying that, printing things like flyers, business cards, and brochures can be inexpensive and has the option of smaller print runs.
  • Harder to reach a wider audience: Print advertising is limited by geography. The amount of people who see your poster for example will be limited to the amount of people that walk by it every day.
  • Colour limitation: Due to the fact that most print advertising is printed using CMYK inks, the colour gamut can be limited. These colour limitations can be improved using pantone colours and spot colours, but they can tend to be more expensive. To read more about colour in printing read our colour in printing article.

Digital Advertising

social media analytics

Digital advertising is a very blanket term for any advertising created for a digital space. This can include social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc), websites, videos (YouTube, tiktok), digital billboards, email marketing, and streaming services (Twitch). Because of the way digital advertising can be accessed from anywhere, it is usually a very important component of any marketing campaign.

Pros of digital advertising

  • Cost effective: On average digital advertising can be less expensive than print advertising, especially with start up costs.
  • Larger reach: Because digital advertising is all online it can reach a larger, especially geographically, than print. People can interact with your brand online from the comfort of their own homes.
  • Can target specific audiences: Digital marketing can be used to target very specific audiences, especially with social media marketing. You can target demographics like; age, gender, location, lifestyle, likes, and so on.
  • Can be interactive: Digital advertising can come in the forms of video, gifs, and games, giving your audience a whole new way to interact with your branding.  
  • Wider range of colours Digital advertising tends to use the RGB/HEX colour modes which have a wider colour gamut than CMYK.
  • Easy to test: Unlike print advertising, you can change your ad whenever you want to find what messaging best suits your target market.
  • Easy to track performance: It’s now easier than ever to track how successful your digital advertising is progressing with data collection sources like google analytics and the analytic tools given to you by the social media companies.

Cons of digital advertising

  • Is a larger commitment: Social media advertising takes a lot of time to maintain. You need to be consistently posting/updating high quality content to keep raising brand awareness to your target markets.
  • People are overall less responsive to digital advertising: Due to its mass market appeal, digital advertising can come off as less personable and people are generally less likely to take action after seeing a digital ad.
  • Expensive to advertise in high value markets: The cost to just get your brand noticed can easily become bloated when trying to push into popular markets like makeup, clothing, and lifestyle.

Synergy between Print and Digital advertising

social media advertising

While you could go about advertising your brand using one of these advertising methods alone, the best course of action is to actually use both digital and print advertising together in order to get the most value out of your money.

Digital advertising is not great at driving your target audiences to take action, but it is great at promoting your brand to them. The average consumer needs to see an ad 7 times before taking action and digital advertising is a great way to get this level of exposure.

Once the customer is aware of your brand, the next step is to encourage them to take action; this is where print advertising comes in. Some examples of print advertising that can be implemented include putting an ad in an appropriate magazine, sending out flyers with a coupon code, or giving out business card that have a call to action. Print advertising is also a great way to drive traffic to your website where you can give your customer the full sales pitch. Whatever method your chose to use, print advertising has the most likely chance of success in turning a potential customer into a paying one.

This is just one way in which digital and print advertising can be used to compliment each other when marketing your brand. The main case and point being that you should use digital ads to build brand awareness, and use print ads to drive action. This also works well for small businesses with small budgets as you start with the relatively inexpensive digital advertising and work your way to the print advertising once you have a small following. Using print advertising and digital advertising together is the best way to supercharge your brand exposure and create more sales.

(1) REMetics. 2018. Print versus digital advertising. Sourced from: https://www.newsworks.org.uk/resources/print-vs-digital-advertising