It is tempting to think print media is dying a slow but certain death in the face of digital media. The facts, however, paint a different picture.
More and more of our lives are becoming digitized. From the way we shop to the way we learn, traditional media is being phased out to be replaced by digital screens. One area that seems to be getting the brunt of the battle is the magazine industry. Most publishers are simply not sure what the future (and even the present) really holds for such traditional processes. But how far into the revolution are we? Have print magazines become obsolete, or if not now, perhaps in the foreseeable future?
From a factual, evidence-backed standpoint, the truth is that print magazines are still relevant for a number of significant reasons.
The brain interacts with print media differently from digital media
The research is in, and fortunately for traditional magazine publishers, the findings favour the old methods. One recent decisive study showed the unique manner in which traditional print media interacts with the brain on a neuroscientific level. The study, which was done by Millward Brown, a British multinational market research firm, showed that print media leaves a much longer-lasting footprint on the brain than smartphone and laptop screens.
The study involved careful analysis of MRI brain scans and these showed that physical print media offers a tangible, real feeling which enhances memory formation. That means reading a hard copy magazine will always offer more emotional engagement than a billion pixels on the screen.
Publishers are realising the importance of printing in the media industry
There is, admittedly, a persistent illusion that print media is becoming obsolete. Publishers, however, are starting to see the reality. Take Newsweek, a US-based print news company, for example. As the year 2012 drew to a close, the company decided to abandon its printers and jumped onto the digital media bandwagon. It only took a year for them to realise the apparent truth that print is still alive and kicking. They dusted their printers and got them running again.
But print has been shaken
But that is not to say print media has come out of the battle with its digital foe unscathed. According to research, the commercial print industry had seen revenues declining in the last few years, primarily because digital media has claimed a chunk of the market.
That is because digital media offers certain advantages. For example, it is much easier to scale. A million people can view the same website provided there is enough bandwidth. It is also much easier to control and alter. A few keystrokes can correct a typo or add missing information. Lastly, it is immediate and makes it easier to reach audiences as shown by social media platforms, which can deliver news and advertising to the ends of the earth in a second.
But that is far from the end. Whether it is regarding digital or offset printers, the overall print revenue was estimated to grow by 2.1 percent in 2014 as shown by a research done by the Freedonia Group on the $70 billion US print industry. This does not only apply to countries like the US. It is clear that magazine printing in Singapore and other countries is still worth the attention of businesses.