Print media has high readership and ads, still

I wrote about newspapers just a week ago. Read here: Newspapers need to embrace online, fast Today, an interesting article was published in The Star about the viability and sustainability of newspaper (print media) moving forward. It featured all the heavyweights from the media industry. Let me summarise the long article into a concise one below, with their personal views. My personal comments in brackets.

The title of the article: Print media still commands high readership and ads (have to agree, right? One black and white page in newspaper is already RM40,000 or even higher. One property advertisement full listing even in the major property portals would cost substantially lesser and for a much longer period too. )

Media Specialists Association (MSA) vice-president Bala Pomaleh said, “Print media can be highly engaging and effective if the ad space is deployed in a more creative and non-traditional manner.” (For property advertisements, the limitation is always how much more creative can one be with space limitation in the newsprint versus the information which needs to be presented.) 

He further added that “We haven’t reached the critical point where all demographics have moved towards digital media as a source of all possible content. The young are using social media in a big way and news portals for things that usually print media give them because they were born in the digital wave. The older generation, in contrast, still prefer turning over the pages.” (I think it’s even more important to recognise that having huge budgets for print but nearly nothing for online media is going to be a big mistake in the long run. Everyone knows that building a brand name should be done in advance and the online reach is by far much wider today. Imagine if all the biggest developer names of today advertised ONLY in the print, do we think they would be as successful as they are today and able to command a premium for their properties?) 

GroupM Malaysia CEO Girish Menon said that print media is still relevant for marketers to target older audiences or for specific interest groups. He said that print media is no longer relevant to run extended campaigns focussed on building reach.However, it remains one of the best ways to launch or provide detailed information of a new product or service. (For launching, yeah but for detailed information of a new product or service would really depend on what are we talking about. Selling a new shampoo or new 3 in 1 coffee together with a sample of the product may be easier with print media but for expensive services or products, it could be done more comprehensively with online media instead.) 

There were also comments about the closure of news portals like KiniBiz and The Nut Graph which Girish said was due to poor marketing and not enough aggressive sales effort from these portals. (I personally think the niche that these portals and many similar ones operated in were the same and it’s tough when the target market is small and everyone trying to attract the same group of people.) 

Girish then explained that these print media has online assets which are extremely valuable but these digital divisions are often overlooked and thus there were no opportunities to work together with their traditional media counterparts. (This is extremely true. In fact when we look at how some of these print media are ‘selling’ their online as a free / cheap add-on meant that  they are going to suffer in the future as their online remain little or no value to the customers.) 

Moving Walls executive director Srikanth Ramachandran says that “The solution is in the convergence of media and technology.” (His example of  Amazon’s acquisition of Washington Post showed that these days print media companies are becoming smaller compared to many other companies and is often a target of acquisition.) 

Well, the industry continues to consolidate. Some online media is becoming larger than their print counterparts and sooner or later, the smaller print media companies may become a subsidiary of their online counterparts. When that happens, I think the convergence or even working hand-in-hand that was mentioned by these media heavyweights may happen easily. Until then, I think it will still be a fight even for the same company between the online and the print departments.

written on 6 Feb 2016

Next suggested article: Are buyers still browsing newspaper for new projects? My views

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