It's no secret that revenues across the print media field have generally declined in accordance with the growth of the digital age. But tech developers and exclusively digital companies have overblown the situation, promulgating narratives that forecast a complete decimation of print. This idea has very little merit, as the print industry has proven to be lasting and sustainable in recent years.
It's not just one particular area, either – print is flourishing in a variety of different forms, ranging from marketing to facilitating integral office functions. Dismissing its enormous power is counterproductive for businesses that look to achieve growth. Though it no longer dominates the market, the print industry is still lucrative.
Print is not dying; it's just being redefined
For millennia, the only way to record and transmit information between humans was paper. The astoundingly fast rise of the technological revolution has completely altered the way that people communicate and keep historical archives. With the constant influx of new and more advanced methods of sending and receiving a message, it should come as no surprise that print has been largely usurped by these new media. But this does not by any means indicate that print is being replaced – rather, it is being supplemented.
Kylie Davis, who serves as the head of real estate solutions at CoreLogic, the biggest property data provider in the world, wrote in a piece for INMA that she believes print has simply bottomed out. No, she said, the industry will never return to its heyday when it was literally the only viable option for keeping track of data. However, she indicated that print will continue to serve a variety of purposes throughout the world. Printers will have to adapt to new methods and refocus their initiatives, but there will always be a place for the medium.
Talking New Media contributor D.B. Hebbard argued that the lamentations of downward-spiraling companies should not be focused on external happenings, but rather within the marketing departments. The source suggested that while many blame the economic climate and the overall decline of print for their plight, the real culprits are clueless advertisers and marketers. The ethos for print companies at this point in time is basically "adapt or die," and, Hebbard said, many have unwittingly chosen death. There are ways to rethink and revamp print marketing strategies, but instead of attempting to do so, companies have decided to simply drop the format and go exclusively digital – a concept that hinders their ability to grow as a multimedia brand.
Finding and maximizing the potential of new strategies
Davis' line of work targets a very specific market – one that values print as an crucial component to success. Real estate advertising is rarely, if ever, employed through a single medium, and this is reflective of the way printers will evolve to remain competitive. CoreLogic conducted research that found that while 87 percent of people use websites when searching for property listings, only 28 percent of them said they only use digital to find their homes.
Meanwhile, 59 percent of those polled indicated that they had used some form of both online and print real estate advertising, and 79 percent said they used different forms of media as the pursuit of the property became more serious. An even more revealing statistic was that 81 percent said they read their local newspaper's property section even when not actively looking at properties, implying that people are predisposed to reading about something that is not necessarily of personal interest when it is in print format.
The data also found that people expected to find high-quality homes, showing that print is more conducive to aesthetic appeal.
Hebbard admitted that, despite running a digital platform and pushing for the growth of that format, it is impossible for him to completely disregard print. He asserted that for subscription-based publications like newspapers and magazines, digital sales are generally less lucrative – still – than those garnered from print. This should logically lead to higher figures in print advertising, but instead, Hebbard said, the value is considered to be diminishing, which defies logic.
The dominance and influence of the print industry is long gone, and it will never return, barring some unforeseen circumstance in which people suddenly lose interest in technology.
But this does not mean that print is irrelevant. Data shows that, for important, life-changing decisions – such as house hunting – print is still taken more seriously than its digital counterpart, even if the search process began online. The key for contemporary print providers is to adapt to the modern climate. Marketing efforts must be rethought, and the model by which companies do business must be reconfigured. This is a lengthy process, but if print has proven anything since the dawn and subsequent ascension of the digital era, it's that there will always be a place for good, old-fashioned paper.