Top ad man promotes print

Print is more effective than it is given credit for and advertisers should spend more of their marketing budgets on it, according to one of the world’s most powerful ad men.

Martin Sorrell, long-time chief executive of WPP, one of the world’s biggest advertising firms, urges agencies and their clients to consider dialling down the shift of ad dollars online at the expense of print.

“There is an argument at the moment about the effectiveness of newspapers and magazines, even in their traditional form, and maybe they are more effective than people give them credit [for],” he says.

[Related: Newspapers in flux]

Sorrell told attendees to a Broadcasting Press Guild event in London that advertisers should look more at measuring engagement, rather than just time spent looking at an ad or on a webpage, when determining effectiveness.

He says new research finds traditional media can be more engaging and readers are likely to better retain information in print magazines and newspapers than with online and mobile content.

Sorrell’s comments are in contrast to previous statements, where he said advertisers were spending too much on print media compared with how little time readers interact with it.

His change of heart may stem from him beginning to value engagement more than eyeballs, or he may merely be hedging his bets and calling for deeper consumer behaviour analysis.

Sorrell joins fellow ad industry titan John Steedman, chairman of GroupM, and News Corp Australia boss Lachlan Murdoch in sticking up for print’s relevance in a digital world.

Steedman said last year that he is actively encouraging his clients to take a fresh look at newspapers and magazines, arguing print remains a strong avenue for advertising.

He said advertisers have been moving away from print faster than readership, and while circulation figures are falling the negativity around print has been overcooked.

Print, he said, remains a targeted, high impact medium – especially for brands in the financial services and retail spaces.

Steedman blames the ‘digital hype’, as well as a lack of unity among publishers in backing the power of their medium.

[Related: More magazines news]

Mark Hollands, chief executive of newspaper lobby group The Newspaper Works says deeper engagement with newspapers is a critical factor often overlooked by those trying to find quick, inexpensive and efficient channels.

“Many executives are asking about the balance of their marketing, and the possible over-emphasis on social media and digital in general. Mr Sorrell has underscored the validity of those conversations,” he says.

“Publishers need to ensure their offering is a quick and simple to buy as other solutions in the market.

“In doing so, they will no doubt continue to prosecute the case not only for the value of their audience but the engagement and influence of their mastheads and digital properties with those audiences.”

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