Print’s Still Not Dead Yet

New York – Despite a decade-long assault on the print medium by radio, television, and the Internet, industry experts said Monday that paper-based communication in the form of newspapers, magazines, and print catalogs remains a resilient and reliable medium of information.

“It’s an exhilarating time to be involved in the medium of paper and print,” John Gillen, president of Wisconsin Rapids, WI-based Stora Enso North America, said at the annual American Forest & Paper Association conference on Monday. Gillen was the keynote speaker during the session titled, “The Future of Paper-Based Communication – The View from the Stakeholders.”

Chuck Richard, vice president of the Burlingame, CA-based research and advisory firm Outsell, discussed a survey his company conducted in November of 1,200 advertisers – controlling an estimated $2.4 billion in advertising – in the business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and health-care industries. The survey revealed that online is now used by 80% of advertisers, total online marketing spending will grow nearly 20% this year, eight times as much as television/radio and six times as much as print, while search engine advertising spending will increase 26%.

But the study shows that the “old media” – trade magazines, events, and direct mail – are rated the top three most effective tactics for branding and lead generation. Also, the survey shows that the majority of people first look to television and radio as a source of national news and newspapers as the best source for local news.

Nina Link, president/CEO of the New York-based Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), said she never speculates about the future. “But today I’m going to make an exception,” she said. Link touted the magazine industry as a thriving one because “magazines endure,” she said. “We believe in our future.”

Link pointed to a telling statistic: 84% of people aged 18 and over read magazines. “There are few types of news mediums so eagerly anticipated by consumers,” she said. “It’s the power of print. Paper magazines are a centerpiece for the reader. It’s a medium of engagement. And magazines have the most positive attitude toward advertising.”

Meanwhile, Gillen said direct mail offers the “ultimate” in personalized offerings for consumers and its volume is expected to increase 50% from 2000 to the end of 2007. He also praised the staying power of print catalogs throughout the country in an Internet age.

“While there are decreasing page counts, the volume of catalogs is increasing,” he said. “The number of titles is increasing. Simply put, catalogs work. It’s a tribute to the staying power of paper in print.”

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