Category Archives: Print

What’s the Difference Between Print and Digital Advertising ROI?

ROI, or return on investment, is Business 101. When you don’t know the impact of efforts, you don’t actually know if they’re worth it. If you spend $1 on something that generates $2, you can be confident that your dollar was well spent: you achieved a 200% ROI.

This metric is particularly important in marketing, where there are a dizzying amount of approaches and a need to convince the higher-ups that your preferred channel will yield concrete results.

Broadly speaking, marketers will typically divide their efforts between digital and print advertising—but how does calculating ROI differ between the two? And does one approach offer a better return than the other?

Enjoying the New Advances in Online Advertising

Finding your ROI has never been easier, thanks to tracking technologies employed by virtually every digital advertising platform. If you’ve correctly tracked conversions, you can calculate the price and return for every single click—a degree of detail impossible to achieve in print media.

Even better, online advertising allows for incredibly precise audience targeting. You can zero in on the ideal consumer by strategically segmenting your audience by age, location, device, and more. You can also choose to show ads to those who have already interacted with your website (a tactic known as remarketing).

Specifying a smaller subset to market to is a huge win-win: not only do you pay less by showing fewer ads than a shotgun approach, but those targeted ads are far more likely to engage and convert, delivering a double-shot of ROI goodness.

But how’s that ROI compare to print?

The Underestimated Power of Print

While it’s certainly more difficult to get exact ROI metrics with print ads, that doesn’t mean they’re lower. In fact, a Nielson study found that brands that invested in magazine spots recouped an extraordinary 781% ROI, or $7.81 for every dollar spent, compared to just 279% for digital portals and ad networks.

A European study corroborates the surprising advantage of print media, concluding that newspaper and magazine ads produce 120% and 130% ROI respectively, while online ads only yielded 110%.

Making Your Choice

It’s important to remember that the numbers quoted above are generalized. Your ROI depends on innumerable variables, including industry, audience, product, context, etc. No matter what approach you ultimately go with, take steps to accurately track your own ROI.

For those seeking instant ROI gratification, digital is certainly the way to go. Print ads, though, may offer more of a punch—even if those figures are a little fuzzier. It’s in vogue to say that print is dying. The numbers tell quite a different story.


Transcending the Traditional vs. Digital Divide

There’s a growing division in the advertising world: a yawning chasm between traditional and digital approaches. Old-school marketers, direct mailers and brochures in hand, stand on one side, and tech-savvy SEO gurus, web developers, and AdWords adepts on the other.

Yes, sometimes the two sides work together, though typically in a patchwork-style campaign. Predictably, the results usually fall flat.

This schism between analog and online isn’t just wrong-headed—it entirely overlooks the enormous power unleashed when both sides work seamlessly in a cohesive strategy. Both types of media become exponentially more effective when working as one.

Moving Beyond with a Media-Agnostic Approach

Too many agencies, advertisers, and businesses side with a camp from the onset, before even considering the specifics of the campaign at hand. Would a mechanic trash half his toolbox before discovering why the car isn’t starting? Would a general dismiss half his troops before determining the mission? You get the idea.

Before restricting ourselves to certain media channels, we work closely with clients to intimately understand the goals, challenges, and needs of the campaign. Only then do we proceed with a media-agnostic approach to implementing it. We go with whatever delivery methods work best—and that usually involves a combination of tradition and digital tools.

Digital platforms are indeed where more businesses are moving, and for good reason. It’s increasingly easy for customers to learn more, take action, or make a purchase online. But that doesn’t mean traditional tools are obsolete.

Some of the most successful efforts leverage the considerable power of traditional media—a physical brochure, a captivating sign, a direct mailing—to capture attention and send customers to a digital destination—a landing page, a mobile app, an ecommerce store—where they can heed the call to action.

Great campaigns make use of all tools at their disposal, merging digital and traditional media in a sharp, channel-agnostic strategy. The dichotomy between digital and traditional media is a false one: transcend it to make your message more effective. To paraphrase Aristotle, the whole is far, far greater than the sum of the parts.

Author: Zack Smith

Update on Eco-Friendly Printing

Green technology has moved beyond the customary recyclable paper and arrow-ridden logos. Some companies are taking it a step forward to increase social awareness. Printing green has gained a new definition that does not only reside in the one industry.

Photo originated from Output Magazine. See direct link below.

Pollution Absorbing Posters.

In the United Kingdom, University of Sheffield professors, Tony Ryan and Simon Armitage, crafted a poster that turned the side of a university building into a nitrogen-oxide absorbing poem. It will remain in this position for the next year.

Photo originated from Adweek. See direct link below.

Toxin-Ridding Billboards.

Multiple companies have also created floating promotional pieces to absorb air pollution and other toxins. Shokubutsu Hana, a cosmetic brand in Japan, recently used their new ad as away to remove pollution from the Pasig River in Manila. Partnered with the Pasig River Rehabilitation commission and Vetiver Farms Phillipines, they launched an 88ft. floating vetiver grass billboard to help absorbs toxins.

Eco-Friendly Film.

Display products that include a plastic film will also be given an eco-friendly adjustment. Earlier this year, Amari Digital Supplies premiered a static-cling film composed of recyclable polypropypylene from Statix. This can be used on indoor and short-term outdoor signage. It may also be used for promotional display items.

The aforementioned billboard, poster, and printable static film, are a few among many eco-friendly materials in the market today. For more information, follow the shortened links below each category.

Author: Jaclyn Saumell

Did Quark Quack Its Last Quirk?

In 2002, I started working in the industry as an assistant prepress technician. Back then, we were on working Power Macintosh computers in the advanced operating system of “Classic Mac”—we couldn’t possibly trust the new OS X! We prepared files in QuarkXPress 5 and sent them to a film marker to eventually make plates and begin the printing process. Adobe was just starting to filter into prepress departments with InDesign 2, but like OS X, it was also not to be trusted.

At this time in the industry, the only software that could successfully communicate with plate setters and filmmakers was Quark. Yes, it had its quirks, but it always got the job done. Designing something in InDesign and trying to get it successfully onto a printing plate could spell disaster for my keyboard—InDesign was always the whipping boy for me!

Fast-forward to 2013, and you can clearly see that the tables have turned.  Adobe has totally taken over with CS 6, and those who refuse to make the switch only use Quark. I cringe when I get files in Quark. Just recently I received a magazine file in Quark, prepared perfectly and packaged appropriately. After doing our due diligence of loading the customer-supplied fonts and then opening the document and relinking any missing images, all seemed to be well. Our esteemed prepress technicians made print- and screen-ready PDFs, and we distributed them to the client for review.

This is the shocker: All the caption fonts were incorrect, and there was an entire image missing on one of the pages. After receiving this news from the client, I questioned our prepress technician. Much to my surprise, the response was, “I’m not surprised”—this is a known occurrence with Quark these days! Upon further investigation, we determined the fonts were there (we had to manually switch it), and so was the image. But the image was hidden—not behind something, just blank, gone! It came to our attention that a new feature called “content aware” text wrapping was used to wrap text around the image without placing a proper clipping path in Photoshop. So, the question is, why is Quark releasing features that are not totally fleshed out?

The moral to this story is: Quark, you quacked your last quirk for me! If a software provider who was a leader in the industry allows itself to be overtaken in a market it once dominated, it should cease to exist. You can’t take back market share when you are releasing versions that have so many “quirks” that it doesn’t make sense to use. So, today the only useful feature of Quark is the hidden Easter egg—the little alien that marches onto the screen to delete your object. When you get frustrated with Adobe products, open up Quark and hit this key command—it will make you feel better, and then you can quit Quark and go back to Adobe!

Tell me—do you use Quark and have a full keyboard of keys, or does it look like mine?

Author: John Mehl


Can Being Too Green Actually Be Bad?

In today’s market, everyone is focused on being “green.” Has anyone ever stopped to ask, “Are we being too green?” In some cases, I think we are. In the hopes of impressing our peers with how green we are, we might actually be losing touch with the basics of living a sustainable life.

Paper: It’s a race to see how many logos you can get on your printed piece. Is it FSC-, SFI-, or Rainforest Alliance-certified, printed with soy inks, powered by wind energy, 100% PCW recycled, carbon neutral, printed by a man wearing recycled shorts, and not printed on Earth Day? We are going to need business cards that are 8.5″ x 11″ to hold all these logos on the back. But have we ever thought about if we need those printed materials or not? (Jump back to my previous post for more info. on paper and “greenness.”)

Transportation: If you’re an actor in California, more likely than not, you drive a hybrid. My first question is: Why? If I had that type of cash, it would be a Bugatti Vitesse. Sure, it’s not cheap––just 2.5 million––but it goes like hell! It’s considering their “public image” that persuades all affluent actors to buy a hybrid and drive around in the most boring cars that have ever existed. I would argue that new, clean-burning turbo diesels are better for the environment than the best hybrids out there––and you can actually enjoy driving them for more than 100 miles!

I would challenge everyone to take a step back and evaluate your green initiatives. Consider what you did before. Younger generations are learning more about sustainable initiatives but are losing sight of their day-to-day activities that produce the most waste. We have turned into a very waste heavy society.  What happened to reusable milk and beer bottles, paper shopping bags that we used as trashcans or book covers? Think before you print, ask yourself, how many do you really need? Try taking public transit to work, it gives you time to think and reduces your inner road rage!

Author: John Mehl

Too Little, Too Late?

Kudos to the United States Postal Service. Ending Saturday delivery is a step in the right direction for the ever-failing quasi-governmental organization. But is this too little, too late? With an estimated loss of 15 billion a year, due mainly to prepaid pensions, the Saturday delivery cut will take care of only 2 to 3 billion of that deficit, leaving the USPS in a hole 12 to 13 billion deep. Union leaders, Congress, and the American public face some hard choices. Do we allow the USPS to increase postage to rates that UPS and FedEx have survived on? Should Congress revise its 2006 law requiring that the pensions be prepaid, or do we let the USPS fail? How important to you is every door, every day service? Isn’t five days enough? I, for one, would enjoy five-day service. I mean, who wants a bill in the mail on a Saturday to ruin the rest of your weekend anyway?

The announcement to cancel Saturday mail was a milestone in USPS history. The USPS made this announcement during a press conference even before consulting Congress or union leaders. Since union leaders influence the members of Congress who actually determine the fate of the USPS, I would think they wound be in the know. But they weren’t, and I’m happy about that. This means that the USPS is taking charge and making decisions no matter who it upsets in the process.
Here’s to hoping that the USPS can make the necessary decisions to stay afloat for another 50 years! But if it can’t, we’ll just have to use the interweb. That is, of course, what you’re reading this on!

Convergence of Holidays, or How Do I Send a Greeting Card Without Ruining a Client Relationship?

I think the “Holiday Season” begins right after Labor Day, or at least it does in Walmart when the summer section begins its transformation to the “Winter Decorations” section. Call this time of year what you want, but it’s anything but the Indian summer of my youth, at least in the stores. Consumer dollars are paramount in the last four months of each year, and no matter what the occasion, there are greeting cards sitting on the shelves to please every denomination and cover every “holiday” event. Living in New York, I would say there is no greater melting pot of cultures anywhere in the world.

The business world wants to use this time of year to reach out to its client base to thank them for their business and wish them a “Happy Holiday.” Therein lies the first dilemma: what holiday is “safe” to mention? Some will go with their own beliefs and may send a Christmas card, while others will play it safe and send a generic “Happy Thanksgiving” (everyone eats turkey), “Season’s Greetings,” or “Happy New Year” card.

Marketing communication companies are in a special pickle when it comes to deciding which medium to use to convey their greetings. Email blasts, YouTube clips, or other clever new media can be used to wow the client base, but today I want to talk about one of my favorites: old-fashioned ink on paper. To me there is nothing like the experience of receiving a card at home in the mail and opening it like a Christmas present to see what exciting message lies within.

A recent post by Matthew Parker on the Profitable Print Relationships blog outlines seven of the many dos and don’ts that will help you think through the process. Print companies especially need to put their collective best foot forward. Nothing kills the message like a catalog-bought card or a card that is poorly executed. This is your profession, and this is your time to shine. Spare no expense and make your card pop. Check out the post here:

If you have a smaller holiday card list and still want to send something original, I can suggest a new Apple app that I can personally vouch for as offering value for your dollar. The app is simply called Cards, and it allows you to send beautiful letterpress cards you can personalize using a number of various designs. You can send them from your iPhone, iPod Touch, or your iPad. Each card is just $2.99 when mailed in the US, and that includes postage. The cards are printed on a heavyweight, textured cover stock with matching envelopes. You have the option to add photos to the design, and the cards can be generic or personalized for any occasion. You can also send the same card to multiple parties. Each envelope has a handwritten look to it, and though it may be a gimmick, it’s hot right now. Take a look at the app at Apple’s App Store or follow this link.

If senders would only call on their own greeting card experiences before sending greeting cards, they would avoid many disappointed recipients. I have complied a few of my own dos and don’ts––but then again, this is just me.

• Do sign the card! For the love of Mike, would it kill ya to sign a card?

• Do add a handwritten message to photos with preprinted greetings. I love seeing you and your family grow old, but it would be nice to hear how everyone is doing and exactly how Uncle Willy wound up in the wheelchair. Personalize the card for me.

• Do get the names of my family right, make sure the spouse is the current one, and also check if Ol’ Yeller is still alive before adding the pet’s name.

• Don’t write “Seasons Greetings.” If you know me at all, send me a Christmas card and please stop hoarding free cards from twenty years ago––use the new ones you get for free.

• If you send a card you got for free from a charitable organization, please do send them a small donation or just put the cards in the recycling bin. If I see you in fur during the holiday, your PETA card may come flying back at ya.

• Finally, do make me smile. I know we have all had our own shares of ups and downs, but at least make something warm my heart and bring a smile to my face.

With that said, this is the front of my card for this year:

Happy Holidays!

Author: Tom Caska