Robert Dark, Former Head of Production at Future shares his views on printed media

Have you seen a decrease in circulation over the past 5 years with digital technology deeply embedded into the Marketing Managers strategy?

Most magazine publishers have seen a decline in print circulation. However, I doubt that’s directly related to digital technology being embedded in their marketing strategy. I think the decline is down to a mix of (a) economic pressures on family expenditure, (b) the move from print to digital media, and (c) the emergence of a new set of consumers who are the first generation to have been brought up with the internet and who read less because they’re now used to and/or prefer to read in small bites of text with lots of images and video (This new generation, on average, don’t read as much generally, don’t buy newspapers and spend a lot of time creating their own personal media via social media).

With digital technology at the forefront of everyone’s day to day life how important is printed media?

It’s still got its place. Paper is still a great way to easily access information, whilst being able to spill coffee on it or drop it on a hard floor. It can be written on, passed to friends, stuck on a shelf for a rainy day or have bits torn out of it. There will be consumers who continue to appreciate those characteristics.

Do you think printed media has a long shelf life with an ability to capture its audience the same way digital technology seems to?

Printed media won’t disappear but I think it will decline further because it can’t offer clever things like embedded videos and rotating images. But its decline will perhaps be at a slower rate than recent years. Human nature means we don’t always do what is logically expected of us. For example, 10 years ago we were all told that by now we’d all be working in paperless offices. The technology to do this has existed for a long time. But go into most offices in any industry and there’s paper everywhere. By the same token, logically, print media should disappear. But I think human nature means we’ll continue to derive a lot of comfort from paper.

Where do you think Printed Media will be in ten years time?
It will still exist but it will have much higher production values than now. We’ve already seen this in the book market. Paperbacks have been hit hard by digital reading devices but sales of hardbacks are holding up well. The general lesson here seems to be that if the consumer is going to buy paper-based media they’re increasingly going to want it to look and feel special. To compete with digital, the print industry will have to play more to the strengths of paper, ie. its physical and aesthetic properties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *