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Print More Efficient Than TV? One Study Says So!

When I began my career in marketing communications, back in the mid-1990s, television was the Holy Grail of marketing channels. A decade and a half or so later, when I was managing communications at what was then a prominent online printer, nothing much had changed. Our ultimate goal was to have an ad air during the Super Bowl. That never happened.

In all honesty, maybe because of the industries in which I have worked , I’ve never been too enamored with big time TV. If you’re a major brand, with billions of dollars to put toward marketing, television campaigns might make sense; the audience is there, it’s targetable and with that kind of budget you can afford it. But, even if you have the budget to support TV, is it as efficient in building brand awareness as other channels like print media and mobile? A 2014 study say no.

With the intent of discovering the impact of mobile marketing as a channel in an overall campaign, the Mobile Marketing Association conducted the Smart Mobile Cross Marketing Effectiveness Study (SMoX). In one case study, SMoX looked at a 2013 AT&T campaign for Moto X smartphones. National television, print media, online desktop and mobile channels were used. Of course TV had the largest share, 93%, of the budget. Online desktop had the next largest share, a whopping 5%, leaving print media and mobile each with a mere 1% of the budget. The 18-year-old demographic was the target for this campaign conducted over a six-week period.

The study looked at the efficiency of each channel used in the campaign as a factor of individuals reached per dollar spent. The results are rather surprising. Consuming the overwhelming majority of the budget, national TV reached the most people. In terms of efficiency, however, it reached 1.5 people per dollar spent, edging out online desktop by a half a person per dollar. Mobile doubled TV’s efficiency at 3 people reached per dollar spent. Print media, however, showed the most efficiency at 6 people reached per dollar spent.

The study goes on to suggest, based on efficiency and other factors related to the campaign, an optimum mix of spending across the four channels. With a reduction from 93% to 72%, TV takes a hit but still gobbles up most of the budget because of its cost. Out of the rest of the channels, mobile, naturally, tops the list at a suggested increase to 16%. Print media, however, comes in
second with a suggested increase to 8% and online desktop remains constant at 5%. Long story short, the message here is that for a big brand that can afford national television, the next two most efficient communication channels are mobile and print media.

While print in this circumstance is referring to paid advertising space in printed magazines, the fact that it was the most efficient of all channels with an 18-year-old audience is significant. This audience is native to all things digital. This audience is thought to shun anything that’s not on a screen and preferably a screen that can be put in a pocket. But this study indicates otherwise. It indicates that physical, printed graphic communication has not only not lost its power, but its power is enough for it to be suggested as an excellent companion to the channel of preference among this demographic.

Although direct mail, direct marketing and other forms of physically printed communication were not in the scope of this study there are relationships and similarities that can be drawn between the them and magazine advertising. If old fashioned print mass media can efficiently reach 18-year-old smartphone buyers as part of an integrated campaign, well-targeted direct marketing with a great design can too, as long as the production quality, timing and price are optimized. If you are relying on paid channels like online, mobile and certainly TV, optimization is an area of obvious concern. But are you optimizing your printed marketing communications? Are you getting the best combination of quality, service and price with no compromises? You could be, you should be and PrintLynxx can help you do it with the people, processes and vendors you already have in place.

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