Print still rules in ensuring advertiser returns

Newspaper advertising increases overall return on investment by as much as three times, says new finding

Image Credit: Courtesy: MEPRA
Alex Malouf, vice-chair of the Middle East Public Relations Association
Gulf News

Dubai: It’s not all doom and gloom for the print industry. Print advertising is still king ... in fact, advertisers cutting back on advertising with newspapers are less effective, according to a recent study by consultancy Benchmarketing, part of Omnicom Media Group.

Newspaper advertising raises the overall return on investment (ROI) by three times and boosts overall campaign effectiveness.

It also increases the effectiveness of other media, such as TV and digital, as per the study conducted for Newsworks, which covers 500 econometric models built over the last five years, covering six different categories.

“It is clear that newspaper brands boost other media as well as performing a powerful role in their own right. Running a campaign without newspapers is like trying to bake a cake without baking powder,” Rufus Olins, chief executive of Newsworks, said in a statement.

Including newspapers in a campaign increases effectiveness by 5.7 times for finance; three times for travel; 2.8 times for retail; 1.7 times for automotive; and 1.2 times for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). The study also suggested that advertisers that look to maximise effectiveness need to return to the levels of expenditure seen in 2013.

Traditional print media is powerful and effective in the Middle East, says Alex Malouf, vice-chair of the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA).

“I would not discount traditional media. It’s powerful ... journalists create content that people want to read, which can be different from a digital landscape,” he said.

“Traditional print media is very effective in terms of advertising outreach and public relations outreach. Anyone who discounts print is doing themselves a great disservice.”

Rajeev Khanna, commercial director at Gulf News and a member of the board of directors at the International Advertising Association (IAA)-- UAE Chapter, agrees. “Print isn’t dead. It will never die … there is still a strong need for print [in the UAE]. The consumption of print will continue.”

Newspapers complement other media, Malouf said. “It’s hard to say one is better than the other. As an advertiser, you need to understand all the other mediums which are available — what works best for my target audience?” he added.

Advertisers, he said, must bear in mind consumption habits of their target audience. “Reading of newspapers is a daily habit for many people from the subcontinent. It’s something which has become tradition for them, much like it used to be in the UK.

“So it’s also those habits that people need to bear in mind when they think about how they engage with certain audiences.”

Newspapers and television represent the lion’s share of advertising spend in the UAE, experts said.

While digital advertising in the region is growing, it only accounts for a single percentage of advertising spend, according to Malouf.

“Generally speaking, in this region, there is a big shift towards digital, but it’s not as pronounced as you would find in the US or Western Europe,” he said.

Arabic speakers in the region, especially, consume print media strongly. “ When you look online, there’s not much content in Arabic. So if you look at traditional media, Arabic is very strong.

“The majority of the big publications we have in the region are in Arabic. Print media has a vital role in engaging with those segments,” Malouf said.

Additionally, digital sources of news in the region are not always trusted by readers, unlike newspapers.

“There have been rumours that have spread on social media. The government has come out and said these are not true … It’s very rare to see something published in a newspaper which is a rumour,” Malouf said.

Newspapers need to branch out into digital and “innovate when it comes to different advertising solutions for advertisers,” Malouf said.

Khanna agreed. “The natural extension to newspapers is the digital version.”