5 Claims Debunked Regarding Digital and Print Media

The rapid growth of digital media has fueled the debate over whether print media is losing its relevance. Over the years, the idea has seesawed back and forth as we gauge the effect social media, e-readers and digital advertising has impacted print publications and collateral. The evolution is real.

But are all the claims really true? SOS debunks some of the most popular statements in the years-long battle between these two forms of media.

 1. Converting to Digital Media is More Environmentally Conscious

FALSE: We often assume because of the carbon footprint of paper that digital media is more environmentally conscious, but we seem to forget that there’s a source for all the energy we consume. A whopping 57% of the United States’ electricity comes from coal, which has led to the destruction of over 500 mountains and 600 square miles of forest. Computers, cellular networks, internet servers, data centers and consumer electronics all require electricity to operate, fueling our ever-growing demand for this depleting resource.

2. We Retain Knowledge Better Through Print Media

TRUE: We’ve all heard the phrase, “Learn by doing.” At the end of the day, we are still human beings, programmed to learn through interaction. Studies show that we retain knowledge better through a hands-on approach.

Studies show that children learn 25% more in an interactive environment, whereas a lack of stimuli actually decreases learning by 25%. This statistic doesn’t change when we grow into adults. Whether we’re taking notes, highlighting passages or simply flipping through the pages, a tangible experience acts like glue within our memory banks. Thoughts, ideas and concepts simply stick better.

3. Digital Media has a wider reach, thus has more engagement

FALSE: Exposure and engagement are not the same thing. Social and digital media content is browsed more than its read. Studies show that most online content is received with a short attention span, averaging 15 seconds per visit.

The reason behind this is that much of our activity on computers, cell phones and social media tends to be passive. We browse newsfeeds, receiving information without chewing on what it means or translating it into a clear action or objective.

Meanwhile, we tend to approach print media like books, brochures, magazines and flyers more intentionally. We read books and magazines with the intention to learn, or to be entertained. We pick up brochures in order to educate ourselves on a product or subject. We do all of this often with a singular focus, for there aren’t extra tabs or notifications to distract from what’s in front of us.

4. Print is Dying

FALSE: Print media may be giving up some of its former territory to digital media, but it’s far from obsolete. Seventy-six percent of small businesses utilize both print and digital marketing to reach their customers and clientele. Online advertising has become a lucrative business. Last year, Google reported a whopping $14 billion in profit dollars out of $66 billion in sales, most of which was generated from their internet advertising services.

Yet there’s still value to print marketing, especially in the realm of sales. Retailers find that placing a coupon or sales flyer in the hand of a customer makes them more inclined to make a purchase, or buy more items than they originally came for.

5. Print Must Evolve to Survive

TRUE: It’s true that print media is no longer the dominant voice in communicating with the masses. In order to remain relevant, it must find new avenues and new ways to connect with its audience. In some ways, that means embracing the “new guy.”

Despite the many arguments back and forth between which is better, there is actually a synergy between print and digital media. One that society is learning how to take advantage of more and more.

Combining the interactive nature of digital media with the tangibility of print creates a powerful hybrid. A great example is the use of QR codes. Give an individual a one-sheet that informs them about a product or service with a QR code at the bottom turns informative collateral into a call to action.

Marketing is no longer a two-step process, but an encompassing and interactive experience, which is why businesses still use both forms of media as a means of communication.

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