Printed and Digital Advertisements: A Complementary Pair?

This “UK Printing: The Facts and Figures” infographic underscores that the printed media industry is far from obsolete, and in fact forms the primary basis of the advertising industry. When you take a look above, you’ll note that the combined advertising expenditure in the UK in 2009 for press (29.6%) and direct mail (10.7%) amounted to more than the internet advertising expenditure (24.2%). Internet advertising came in at a close third, behind television advertising, which garnered 26.2 percent.

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While the UK maintains a strong printing industry, they are only the fifth largest printing country in the world with 33 billion USD of printing expenditure, and fall far behind the USA with 198 billion USD of printing output, and Japan with 99 billion USD of printing output. The UK takes second place in European printing however, and trails only Germany in output.

These figures highlight the duality of advertising in today’s society. Many advertisers choose to pitch their product on multiple fronts. They may employ a laser printer to produce crisp colourful magazine ads, a television network to bring their products to life, and internet advertisers to flash their products across the screen in an instant. For instance, it is not uncommon to see a popular celebrity scantily clad in a TV advertisement for the latest perfume at one moment, and see the same face plastered across the side of a billboard the next. It is this multifaceted approach with gives advertisers the ability to access various levels of societal consciousness, and bring about such monumental sales for their clients.

The enormity of the global printing industry is not diminishing, despite what some extreme technology enthusiasts may be saying. Rather, it is possible to argue that the growth of one industry – internet advertising and publications – does not necessarily lead to the diminished importance of another – the print industry. There are several ways to explain this co-existence. First, perhaps these industries are targeting different audiences or the same audience in different ways. That is, while certain ages and demographics are more likely to get their news in a printed format, others are more likely to search online media for their first source as news breaks. An additional hypothesis is that the industry itself has expanded, with advertising online seen as a supplement, not a replacement, to traditional print advertising.

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