Digital versus print

Being relatively new to the printing world and also a millennial, I find myself slap bang on the border of the print and digital divide. Print has always been the cornerstone in retail marketing for generations. Being one of the greatest technical advancements to drive western civilisation, print was and still is, extremely relevant. However, no matter how good the design and presentation is on an outdoor banner, If someone’s face is glued to their phone to see what Kim Kardashian might do next, the message is lost. Print is not digital. In this day and age where a vast online world is available at everyone’s fingertips, it begs the question of: How do we combine the two?

Reaching The Audience

Digital is interactive; it is dynamic and can provide instant cross referencing and comparisons. It is multi-media sharing across multiple channels all in the confines of a mobile device and it’s a new way of experiencing different content. Print is traditional, it’s engaging, it’s something you can physically feel and it’s proven to work.

With this showing how different the two platforms are, I used to believe it isn’t a question of trying to merge the two, but what is to be done differently between them? The way of marketing in the digital world such as social media, email, advertising and promotion is the flip side of a coin to the way of marketing using print: POS, direct mail and signage.

In a way, it could also be said the two different mediums affect different audiences in different ways, especially in the modern world. Being 22 years young and struggling to spend 30 minutes away from my phone, I understand the statistic from which states “3 out of 5 mobile phone users pay attention to mobile ads” and that people spend “nearly 2 hours on their mobile phone daily”. With the cost of digital marketing also being minimal, I see how this can be effective in engrossing myself and my peers.

On the other hand, I guess an older generation will be on mobile phones less than these youngsters. Plus with stats from stating that people prefer and will be enlightened by “something that they can touch 24% more highly than something they can just see” (like an email) coupled with “campaigns including mail providing 40% more acquisition rates”. With proven statistics that traditional marketing will boost sales and interest as well – print is not backing down.

A New Advancement

With the debate in full swing something that I saw recently started to make me wonder. The divide between digital and print was black and white for me, until now, where it turned a very murky shade of grey. Interactive print is what has turned my opinion on its head. A colleague of mine showed me how a normal printed page of A4 can be scanned by mobile phone to produce a digital and interactive version on the device. This can then be used to display video, connect to a website and even make purchases from a scanned image. Flash marketing on struggling outlets of multi-site businesses could then use this platform to boost sales. Link this with geo-mapping clients that have shown interest in certain offers on a particular product and a very clever and dynamic marketing strategy can take place.

Moving even beyond this to print that can show augmented reality. A business card that when viewed through a mobile device can come to life and be integrated to social media. An advert for a movie that can be animated to act out a sequence. It starts to show that the gap between digital and print is getting smaller, the two mediums are slowly coming together.

Any marketer will know that using both print and digital strategically will yield the best results, but this is an interesting advancement in combining the two and all ends with me asking the question: in 50 years, will there be a print and digital divide?