Digital vs. Print Advertising: Which is Right For Me in B2B?

By Tom Prikryl, President, Triad Business Marketing 

What should we focus on in our marketing program? Digital or print?”

The popularity of digital advertising and digital venues such as social media have grown and with it, marketing dollars allocated to digital. With the worldwide increase in Web usage has come a strengthening of the internet’s role in education and informing both B2B and B2C consumers prior to making intelligent purchase decisions. Also, developments in targeted advertising formats and techniques have helped shape better communications: messaging is much more Digital vs. Print Advertising: Which is Right For Me in B2B?relevant than ever before. You can see the impact within business itself: entire organizations and individual job titles demonstrate the importance of digital in business: Digital Advertising Managers, Social Media Directors, and Lead Generation Managers are more prevalent, and more critical to companies marketing efforts – and to their success — than ever before.

Of course, there are many benefits to digital advertising. It’s less costly per impression, and response is readily measured. Also, digital can be highly targeted to be very relevant.

When you live in such a digitally driven world, it’s hard to avoid thinking that “print is dead.” Newsweek recently stopped all production of its print publication. In fact, according to American Express Open Forum, the newspaper industry even topped the Huffington Post’s list of America’s Ten Disappearing Industries.

The Pluses of Print.

Especially among the analytical minds that occupy a large segment of the B2B prospect world, print, as a communications medium, is still alive and kicking. Here are some advantages of the print medium vs. digital, according to Forbes:

  1. Print has staying power.

Influential print trade publications have a following, and tend to stay around offices and in the hands of prospects for months, even years. Digital messages disappear in the blink of an eye.

  1. You can’t catch a virus from print.

Enough said.

  1. Print is powerful for branding.

Because it’s static, a print ad can boost your brand by featuring bold graphics, and unique brand imagery that stays in the minds of the reader.

  1. Print is more engaging.

Consumers are more engaged when reading printed material, unlike websites, which are often skimmed in as little as a 15 second visit. A study shows that people read digital screen text 20% – 30% slower than printed paper. (Alshaali & Varshney, 2005)

In addition, print gives you room to communicate. A print ad (link: is able to better communicate the complexities of a highly technical product or more involved sales message.

But is there a generation gap when it comes to print vs. digital? Not necessarily. A recent study of readership conducted by two prominent energy industry publications found that 91% of its readers preferred to receive the publication in print form, compared to 9% who chose digital. Within both groups, there was no appreciable difference in relative proportions of older and younger respondents.

The answer.

There is no one best answer. An integrated approach including a wide range of communications options based on your individual goals, both long and short term, will help determine whether print or digital or a mix of both are right for your marketing efforts.

Tom is a B2B marketing and advertising veteran, having founded Triad Business Marketing in 1994. He has been named to the Dallas Business Journals’ list of Who’s Who in Energy, and his agency has won numerous creative and readership awards for its B2B advertising and marketing efforts on behalf of clients.

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