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By Charles Groome on October 23, 2015

Why Print Ads Guarantee Better Sales Performance

 Publishers are offering  guarantees for print ads. Brand marketers should take this as a sign of media equilibrium and look to diversify their marketing investment across channels.

Some of the largest magazine publishers in the US have announced a remarkable guarantee: running print ads will lead to higher sales, or your money back (WSJ).

The MPA, the Association of Magazine Media, has announced that 16 media companies will be offering the guarantee in the initial stages. The move comes as the decline of print advertising is slowing and there are signs that the marketing landscape is moving towards media equilibrium.

With this new advertising paradigm emerging, brands must be flexible to changes in the performance of different channels. A diverse media mix is becoming essential – and print ads are a staple in that advertising diet.

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Even though commentators keep predicting the death of print, print advertising is here to stay. Here’s why:

We’re approaching Media equilibrium

Although spending on print advertising will decline 1.8% in 2015, the rate of that decline is slowing (WSJ). Between 2011 and 2014, the rate of decline in print advertising was close to 5% per year (Statista). But now with less than a 2% decline in 2015 it appears the long slide is nearing an end.This parallels the trend that was seen in the mid-20th century with the rise of television. As TV rose in popularity, spending on radio decreased steadily. But spend on radio stopped falling well before the "death" of the medium – reaching a steady plateau at 5% of U.S. ad spending which has continued for more than 50 years (Borrell).Additionally, print advertising still accounts for more than $40 billion each year – which is 25% of all ad spending in the US. Even though digital channels are grabbing an increasing share of the advertising market, print remains a central component in the media mix.

Print is more effective than ever

As more and more advertisers have turned to the web, email, social and other digital channels are now full of ads. With a more cluttered digital mediascape, consumers are reacting negatively and responding less to the overabundance of digital ads.

In contrast, print publications have become less saturated, giving consumers a better balance between the content they want and the ads they tolerate.

Thanks to this reallocation, consumers are more responsive to the ads that do run in print publications. Response rates are climbing, and key demographics such as millennials are showing openness to print. Even tech companies like YouTube are moving into print advertising because of the improved responses it can generate (CNN).

Performance Tracking isn’t just for Digital anymore

Pay for performance is one of the biggest advantages of digital advertising: marketers invest in media and then pay based on the measurable activity their advertising generates. But now this digital tactic is no longer just for the web.

Using new methods of analysis, media companies can tie print ad metrics directly to advertisers’ business objectives. Publishers have been able to establish that every dollar spent on print advertising leads to $17 in revenue lift on average (WSJ).

With better data on response and sales performance, publishers can respond to one of the biggest challenges print advertising has faced: insufficient transparency into performance. With that key challenge removed, media publishers can promise that advertisers will see success – with a money-back guarantee, for instance.

The Takeaway is Clear

Print advertising remains a strong component of the media mix. Publishers are already delivering the responsiveness and data-centric view of print ads that advertisers need. Media equilibrium means that marketers will have opportunities to drive sales performance with print advertising. Brands must be flexible and market across all media channels.


  1. http://www.wsj.com/articles/magazines-try-new-tactic-money-back-if-ad-fails-to-deliver-1444683026
  2. http://www.statista.com/statistics/272315/advertising-spending-in-the-us-by-medium/
  3. https://www.borrellassociates.com/industry-papers/papers/back-from-the-brink-newspapers-stop-their-slide-aug-09-detail
  4. http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/05/smallbusiness/startups-create-magazines/

For many industry-leading brands, marketing resource management (MRM) tools enable teams to track, plan, and execute marketing. Which MRM solution is right for your brand?

Published by Charles Groome October 23, 2015
Charles Groome