Good Tidings from the “Gutenberg Galaxy”
In its usual methodical fashion,
By Patrick Henry
Published: August 26, 2009
In its usual methodical fashion, Heidelberg has taken a vigorous stand for print’s place in the media mix with an impressive publication called “The Strengths of Print for Brand and Corporate Communication.” Released last year, the 64-page document was produced by a team of 15 researchers from Heidelberg’s Print Media Academy in Heidelberg, Germany, and the advertising and marketing communication faculty of Stuttgart Media University. They examined 80 published studies of relevant media trends, analyzed 19 of these in depth, and also considered the findings of tests that measured consumer recall in three multimedia advertising campaigns. Among their principal conclusions: because it enables sustained reception of information, print gives advertising a longer-term, more profound impact. Print’s high credibility with high-spending consumers is another reason why the greatest advertising impact is achieved when print and electronic media are combined with one another. For all of its rigor and formality, the document at times has an in-your-face quality that’s missing from most other analyses of print’s merits compared with those of the electronic media. The authors maintain, for example, that print is better than any other medium for stimulating interest with pictures. They say that television’s use of stationary and moving images to evoke positive emotions is undercut—or at least not helped—by its audio component (“an alleged advantage”). The Internet gets an even shorter shrift. The authors say that in one of the tests they looked at, “The possibilities for interacting actually confused the test subjects and evoked more negative than positive emotional responses to the advertising.” Other provocative points: • Print is either informative, emotional, or interesting—only rarely does it possess more than one of these attributes at once. • Reduction to the essentials in print is a good thing, making it suitable for “simple emotional presentation” without detailed information. • Because print does not have features such as sound and interactivity to distract readers from the essentials, it’s good at generating brand recall—as good as television, and much better than the Internet. • Print can—and should—be used in any campaign. “The Strengths of Print for Brand and Corporate Communication” presents no data more recent than 2005, and because of what has happened to magazine circulations and ad page counts since then, print has lost some of the reach that it once had in the kinds of advertising campaigns that the authors placed under study. But, given the weight of evidence they present in print’s favor, it’s hard to dispute their general conclusion: “The Gutenberg Galaxy still has great potential.” “The Strengths of Print for Brand and Corporate Communication” can be requested from Print Media Academy here.