Negativity around print ‘overcooked’: Steedman

Australia’s most powerful advertising buyer, GroupM chairman John Steedman, has condemned negative attitudes that have emerged towards print, arguing it remains a strong avenue for advertising.

Supporting Steedman’s call, a mix of fresh data, advertiser feedback and positive sentiment from media agencies is pointing to a rebound in print advertising The Newspaper Works chief executive Mark Hollands says in a special industry overview.

Mr Steedman heads the parent group of four top agencies – Mediacom, MEC, Maxus and Mindshare. “We believe the negativity around print, in particular circulation and readership, has been overcooked,” he told The Australian.

“There are many strong brands in publishing and GroupM will be encouraging its clients to take advantage of the strength of newspapers and magazines.”

Advertisers have moved away from print faster than readership and circulation is dropping, Mr Steedman said. “Digital hype” was partly to blame, he said, as well as a lack of unity among publishers in backing the power of their medium.

Data points to print on the rebound

Supporting Steedman’s call, a mix of fresh data, advertiser feedback and positive sentiment from media agencies is pointing to a rebound in print advertising.

A new study by global research firm GfK has found that print advertising still has the best return on investment (ROI) of all traditional media, and online banner ads.

The GfK research, conducted late last year in The Netherlands, shows that print not only outperforms in terms of driving sales but delivers better ROI for campaigns when compared with TV.

GfK’s panel services measured 10 campaigns for coffee, a lottery, an internet provider, diary brand, travel agency and companies H&M, IKEA and Vodafone.

Reporting on the findings, INMA’s Eric Grimm  attributed GfK’s explanation of the result to the ability of the advertiser to pace its ads to ensure “confrontation at a suitable moment”.

He wrote: “Striking is that the more expensive print ads deliver the best ROI. On average, Gross Rating Point (GRP) costs for newsprint are twice as expensive as TV, and eight times as much as radio. The impact, however, is so big that newspapers deliver far better ROI, even if the calculations are based on gross prices.”’

The new GfK study, based on a German study that delivered similar results, synchronises with the findings of Adobe, which found in a multinational survey in mid-2013 that print ads were the best accepted among consumers.

Some 26 percent of more than 1000 respondents in Australia said print ads were the “most attention grabbing” compared with TV (22 per cent), radio (16 per cent), outdoor (14 per cent) and online banners (8 per cent).

Lexus spread

Lexus rides the new wave of positivity

The results come as Lexus Australia marketing manager Yolande Waldock took the unusual step of revealing the overwhelming positive feedback her company has received to a recent campaign of double-page spreads in The Australian for the new Lexus ES.

The chief operating officer of Mindshare, Sharb Farjami, said he expected the recent decline in print ad revenues to slow as sentiment improved. “Good performance is over-rewarded,” he told the AFR, “and bad is over-penalised until the market corrects itself.”

An imminent market correction is predicted by Steve Allen, managing director of Fusion Strategy.

“Our clients haven’t seen a falloff in the efficacy of print anywhere through this crisis of confidence,” he says.

Fusion released a report last November that found, as Mr Steedman argued, ad revenues had declined at a disproportionate rate to copy sales or print readership trends.

Media agencies needed to start “questioning where they are putting their dollars” and to end the attitude of treating digital advertising as “the automatic default position,” according to Mr Allen.

They should “really look at where they are getting the results from,” he added. “Our own client list suggests there has been practically no fall off on what print delivers.”

His argument is supported by the response to the Lexus ad by its loyal customers, who sent emails and letters in praise of the campaign.

Andrew Wynne, principal at independent media agency Razor, told The Australian: “There is nothing like opening the page to see a giant double-page spread, particularly with colour and other abilities to surprise the consumer and get a hell of a wow factor.”

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