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THE EDITOR’S CHAIR: Gary Cullum talks about the power of ink on paper as we explore new business models
I WAS delighted to be invited recently to address the annual conference of the European Printing Ink Association – EUPIA – when it met at London’s Landmark Hotel.
In preparing for my 50-minute conference speech, I thought long and hard about how I could remain bullish about printing ink on paper when the 100 attendees, representing ink manufacturers across Europe, would know the decline in news printing ink sales over the past decade.
In fact, their graph resembled a downhill ski slope. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am a great believer in the power of print,” I announced as I was introducing myself. “Your last speaker addressed you brilliantly on global trends off the top of his head. Well, I’m 40 years a journalist, predominantly a print-based journalist, and” – waving my speech in the air – “I’ll be speaking off an ink on paper script.” Loud applause. That was a good start.
I told them that despite the decline in news print, the medium remains big business, is powerful and engaging – with print yielding on average 70-90 per cent of most publishers’ profits. The combination of print and online means that our industry’s reach has never been greater as we develop our paper offerings and transition to digital.
Ultimately, local publishers are selling stories and information, but creating content is expensive and has to be paid for. Pending any regulation of the digital tech giants that is so overdue and so needed, the likes of Google and Facebook are investing in our news provision and commercial innovation via the Digital News Initiative and the Community News project.
In the light of ‘fake news’, they also acknowledge the need for credibility and the pressure to encourage more people away from a reliance on social media ‘news’.
Power and influence
Print will remain a hugely important part of our future. Its ability to drive revenue may be diminishing, but it still retains enormous power and influence for both readers and for advertisers:
* The biggest national stories in today’s news agenda still originate in print
* For advertisers, newsbrands continue to represent a cost effective and powerful solution
* In our world of multi-tasking, newspapers are still one of the few media that achieve a reader’s undivided attention and that’s probably why recent IPA research showed that campaigns using newsbrands are 43 per cent more likely to deliver market share growth and more than twice as likely to deliver an increase in customer loyalty.
This same research shows that print advertising makes a TV campaign twice as effective and online display 4x as effective. It seems – and I hope it’s true – that advertisers have realised that the pendulum may have swung too far towards digital advertising and needs to swing back towards traditional media such as print.
In addition, public opinion and the legislative process is also finally catching up with some of the negative consequences of the digital world.
It’s also worth noting that the average print reader spends about 80 more minutes with UK news brands than their average online visitor.
That’s a great argument about the value of print from trusted news brands to advertisers and those who make the strategic commercial decisions.
As an industry we must take inspiration from print’s unrivalled ability to engage and find innovative and creative solutions for print to continue to build audience and revenue alongside digital offerings. At newsawards 2019 earlier this month, we saw how our brands in all their shapes and sizes and reach, are mastering the art of capturing that important reader engagement that will bring commercial gains.