Is Print Dead?

Posted: March 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

At the dawning of each digital revolution, the question still: “Is print dead?”

I vote a solid “NO.” Print, in the form of newspapers, magazines books and journals are still alive albeit fighting for attention in many markets globally. Throughout the years since the birth and commercial use of the Internet, the demise of print has always been predicted to happen. Today, roughly 15 years since, print is still a media force and major information resource worldwide. Usage may be dwindling in developed countries but in Asia, where Internet penetration is still weak, print is still getting enough attention to draw decent advertising revenues.

EMarketer estimated that online ad spending grew 13.9 percent in 2010 to 25.8 billion dollars while spending on print newspaper ads estimated a drop of 8.2 percent to 22.78 billion dollars globally. “The bad economy has actually accelerated the shift to digital advertising,” eMarketer chief executive Geoff Ramsey said in his blog last year. He added, “Online ads — especially search ads — are increasingly seen by many marketers as a more reliable bet than print ads, which are often difficult to tie to a measurable financial result.”

Realistically, however, in the Philippines, where digital advertising was thought to consistently grow 10% year-on-year since 2008, I only estimate the same 1-2% actual media ad spend versus total ad expenditures budgeted for 2011. This is roughly the same figure since at least 2 years ago. The only shift in digital media budgets happens when major sites move about in terms of Alexa rankings. This mirrors the poor education of many so-called digital marketers who try hard to cross the great divide from traditional media.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been in print and digital media longer than many. That revolution is coming and some would say it is already here. But the “tipping point” has yet to occur, especially in Asia.

News gathering and the cultures that move journalists, magazine and book writers hasn’t really changed. The only things that have really changed are the ways materials have been delivered and processed. News is now delivered faster to the desks because of new technology. E-Books abound while Amazon’s Kindle has been increasingly selling more each year. So just like any other product or service, technology has simply changed or added a way for us to consume information.

I know a lot of young people born in the age of cellphones and the Internet who read newspapers online but still buy printed magazines and devour printed books. How did Harry Potter and the Vampires become monster hits in movies? There is a different pull in terms of feel and experience that the print brings. It won’t die. At least not in the next 20 years. It’s not a fearless forecast. It’s being practical. You can’t scan all the books currently in libraries fast enough in 20 years. Even an act of Congress wouldn’t pass fast enough to have everything digitized.

So as you read this blog entry electronically, you can soon reach for that newspaper or some paperback and relax for awhile, either in a lounge or a coffee table. Love those glossies, huh?


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