Digital is one of the biggest topics for publishers and has been for the better part of two decades. It makes sense, with the advent of the internet, the smartphone, and mobile devices all moving a majority of content consumption away from print and towards digital platforms. That said, the idea that print will “die” anytime soon is out of place. Digital is valuable to publishers, absolutely, but a lot of assumptions have been made as to what that value is.
Assumptions: Digital will be the end of print
First and foremost, there is an impression that digital is a “silver bullet” that can slay the print publication industry, and that digital and online titles are the only ones that will survive. If this were the case, there would be fewer print titles today than there were 25 years ago. The opposite is actually the case. Niche publications are storming the market, providing more printed content than ever.
Now there is definitely a lot of digital influence with these new titles, like websites and social media, but the money and effort are still in the print. Digital did not break the print publication industry; it actually helped it evolve towards more topic-focused and localized titles.
Assumptions: Digital means giving away content for free
Second on the assumptions list is that digital for publishers means “giving away your content for free.” For some reason, publishers have come to the conclusion that digital is the enemy of print because it involves putting all of the print content onto websites and social media in a manner that provides no return. Digital platforms provide all sorts of return if they used well. Publishers that do nothing but repost their stories online miss all the actual opportunity digital provides.
There are ad spaces to sell, new formats of content available to leverage, and entirely new audiences to discover. Digital does involve distributing your content, but there is nothing about digital that says you have to give it away with no return or not making money from it. In fact, if a publisher is “giving it away for free,” they are missing out on almost all of what digital is capable of providing.
Assumptions: Younger generations prefer digital to print
Lastly, there are assumptions that newer generations, due to the influence of digital, are reading less editorial content. This is because micro-content (like a Facebook post or Tweet) are a huge part of the digital platform culture. However, this assumption is incorrect.
Research shows that millennials are actually print’s largest and fastest-growing market. This is due to the fact that they are highly exposed to digital, and print provides them with a tactile component that is greatly missing from their normal lives. Also, print ads are native and a natural part of a print publication. This greatly differs from digital ads, which are disruptive. This backs up the fact that print that targets this generation also sees higher engagement with print advertisement.
To top this all off, while millennials are using print, baby boomers are really pushing into digital. Facebook’s largest age demographic is the 55+ group. Also, with age, ease of access is key, and digital solutions are far more versatile for people with poor vision, lack of motor skills, and other factors that come into consideration with age. Essentially, the market is moving towards print for the young and digital for the mature, further defending that print is not going anywhere.
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