There’s still no disputing the power of print. In fact, recent surveys indicate that the ability to customize print templates is one of the most popular features of the local marketing software used by industry-leading companies today.
Recently, the largest print publishers in the U.S. have introduced a remarkable money-back guarantee: promising to deliver a boost in sales for companies that advertise in print. The Print Magazine Sales Guarantee was developed by the magazine industry’s chief trade group, The Association of Magazine Media. Its members include a variety of powerhouse print publishers including Time Inc., Conde Nast, Meredith Corp., Heart Magazines and other famous publications.
“The Print Magazine Sales Guarantee makes our case to the advertising community that if they are looking for the best ROI possible, magazine media is an ideal investment,” says Joseph A. Ripp, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Time Inc. “This new industry-wide guarantee demonstrates the value of the magazine media ecosystem to advertisers. It’s a win/win for us all.”
The Print Magazine Sales Guarantee is an industry-wide money-back or space-back program established in response to declining print advertising sales. However, recent estimates indicate that magazine audiences are growing by nearly 10 percent year-on-year. With this bold new initiative, it seems like print publications are putting their money where their mouths are and elevating print back to its place as an effective (and less risky) advertising channel.
How does it work? The Print Magazine Sales Guarantee is a first-of-its-kind industry promise built upon increased sales performance. Advertisers are eligible to receive the guarantee if the product comes from a category which can be tracked. Categories for which credible, third-party sales data can be tracked by household include food, beauty, over the counter drugs, household goods, healthcare, pet care and retail products. In total, these categories account for 62 percent of the advertising spend across all media. Additionally, advertisers must buy a minimum of 150 GRPs (gross rating points) within a 12-month period. If the incremental sales attributable to a specific campaign is less than the campaign investment, the difference will be rebated directly to the advertiser.
For brands, this means that normally unmeasurable spend on print ads can be tracked back and justified. For the first time, print advertising is attributable. We know that in digital advertising, direct attribution is commonplace. By making this print ad guarantee, publishers are realigning to these realities of the new media landscape and giving brands even more confidence to invest.
Sure, this new print advertising guarantee promises to deliver a positive ROI where most print ad spend used to feel like it ended up in a black hole, but why do so many brands still care about print advertising in the first place?
The answer comes down to how effective print ads are in today’s marketing mix.
Between 2011 and 2015, the rate of decline in print advertising amounted to nearly 5 percent per year. However, recent estimates suggest that the print advertising slide is gradually slowing. This parallels a recognizable trend seen in television from the early days of mass marketing. As TV rose in popularity, spending on radio decreased rather steadily. However, advertising spend on radio stopped falling well before its demise, reaching a steady plateau at 5 percent of the total U.S. advertising investment. Like its earlier counterparts, print advertising is on a steady trajectory to reach equilibrium once again.
More and more advertisers are turning to web, email, social media and other digital channels these days. In fact, many startup businesses don’t have any kind of offline advertising presence at all and rely exclusively on digital channels to reach their customers. This cluttered digital landscape makes it difficult for distributed brands to expand the impact of their online advertising efforts. In contrast, print publications have become less saturated, giving consumers a better balance between the content they want and ads that truly resonate with them and spur action. With better data on response and sales performance, publishers can now respond to one of the biggest challenges print advertisers have faced in the past: measurability. Now, media publishers can promise and monitor print advertising effectiveness and deliver a money-back-guarantee if advertisements aren’t translating to increased sales.
What does this all mean for local affiliates? First, brand managers must think about the types of print formats their local marketers are most likely to leverage. Typically, local affiliates will have some preconceived ideas on what kind of print advertising might be most effective for them. In these instances, brand managers must keep local affiliates up to date on which of the many formats are proving most impactful at the brand level. Can you give them any examples of highly effective print advertising campaigns? What made the campaign so successful? Moreover, how did the brand-publisher partnership activate and engage consumers?
Print advertising remains a very lucrative and effective marketing channel for distributed brands. Recent estimates indicate that 74 percent of CMOs plan to invest in SaaS-based marketing technologies within the next 12-18 months. Why? This technology allows corporate and local marketers to efficiently create, store, localize, manage and measure marketing communications across various channels including print. By empowering local affiliates to take custody of the “last mile” of asset customization, brands can deliver highly effective print advertisements that adhere to established brand standards and guidelines.
Are you ready to leverage the power of local marketing automation tools to deliver exceptional local marketing campaign results? Download the Local Marketing Playbook and unlock useful tools to help execute effective local marketing.