Is Print Dead?

In today’s digital age, technology is both ever present and ever changing. It seems that every day there is a new and more effective platform that can be utilized for social media and marketing. With so many new methods of digital communication at our fingertips, literally, has the need for print media become obsolete? Are we becoming witnesses to the death of print? When Johannes Guttenberg[1] invented the printing press in the 15th century, the way we shared information changed. Print media was born! Books and transcripts that only royalty and the upper class could previously afford were now accessible to the general population. The printing press was quick, efficient, and it facilitated knowledge to flourish. Fast-forward to the 21st century and we see another change in the way we share information. The dawn of the Internet gave way to the creation of online advertising. We can now reach even more people in exponentially less time. Digital media has come to the forefront of marketing and advertising, and trends are showing that mobile social media ads are becoming the predominate means of online advertising. A report by Business Insider[2] predicts that by 2018, the US alone will spend nearly $14 billion on social media marketing. With digital media and the Internet, information has never been so easily accessible. With that in mind, what do these technological advances mean for the printed word? Is print dead? In order to answer this question, it is important to compare the advantages and disadvantages of both print media and digital media.

Print Media: Advantages



There is something to be said about actually holding something in your hand; whether it’s a magazine, newspaper, brochure, or an envelope with your name on it (with the exclusion of bills). That physical touch causes a lasting reaction for the audience. It presents them with something they can reference later. Can you pin digital media to your bulletin board or the side of your fridge? I think not.

2. Print media presents fewer distractions than digital media

The audience reads the message without thinking about clicking on something else or having the distraction of a flashy pop up ad. This gives the audience a higher chance of becoming more engaged in the content. Higher engagement leads to a better understanding of the message.

3. Print has a longer life than digital

A magazine can stay on a coffee table for a month (or longer), while digital media is gone in an instant with just a click. The consumer has access to print content for as long as they keep that content, and while digital content is still accessible, it’s not sitting readily on that coffee table.

Print Media: Disadvantages

1. Reach

Print only reaches a limited audience. The Internet and social media are capable of reaching the entire world. This is a huge disadvantage for print. Take the phonebook, for example. Distribution of the phonebook is limited to a local audience. If you are a company in New York and you want to look up the phone number for a company in Atlanta, your local phonebook will be of no help. Google, on the other hand, has you covered in just a few clicks.

2. Paper is cumbersome

It piles up, creates clutter, and can become unmanageable. In a world where people pay for professional organizers to sort through bills and paperwork dating back 20 years, your audience may not want more paper to add to the mess.

3. Print media takes time to get to your target audience

Your audience craves the latest, most relevant information in an expedient manner. By the time the audience gets the message in print, it may be outdated. Unlike digital media, print can’t update every minute.

4. Paper cuts

We all know that pain.

Digital Media: Advantages

macbook and ipad

1. Digital media is a two-way street

By utilizing digital marketing, companies can tailor their message to their audience and receive instant feedback. Through social media, it is easier than ever for large and small companies to understand how their customers feel. It’s simpler to comment on a company’s Facebook post than it is to write and mail a letter with the same message.

2. The world is your oyster

Do you want to get a message out that anyone with an Internet connection can access? Digital media offers marketers the ability to relay their message to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

3. There are so many platforms to reach your audience

Websites, blogs, social media, cellular phones, online ads, and direct marketing are all accessible through digital media. Some of those options are even free!

Digital Media: Disadvantages

1. The Internet is huge

Putting your content online through digital marketing is like putting a needle in a stack of nearly identical needles. Your audience could find what they want from a competitor before they even notice your message. Your content could easily become white noise on the Internet and get lost on the second page of Google if you don’t hone your digital marketing skills and get creative.

 2. Updating digital media can be arduous

To remain competitive with others in your industry, your content needs to be up to date at all times. Creativity is key to attracting attention to your content. Constantly coming up with new and interesting media is a full-time job.

3. Social media can bring about negativity

Not everyone is going to like your company or the content you are producing. Social media gives your audience the opportunity to say anything negative they want, for the whole world to see. This could get ugly if you don’t know how to handle the situation in a tactful way. CATMEDIA Crumpled Paper So how can you use this information to your company’s advantage? Let’s think of it this way: could print’s decline be its own salvation? As companies veer away from print media, what better way to differentiate your content than to go against the technological flow and actually send out a postcard? How inspired! By using print, you will reach your target audience directly and deliberately. This could create a meaningful connection that could increase your audience’s trust and allegiance to your company. Using both print and digital media to your advantage can help you tailor your message to any audience you want to reach, both limited and broad. Though digital media seems to be at the forefront of marketing and advertising, do not be fooled. Gutenberg would be pleased to know that print still plays an important role and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. What do you think about the future of print? Post your comments below! Is Print Dead-pinterest


CATMEDIA is a certified Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. The firm’s trademarked communications process, CATVANTAGE™, enables the team to deliver customized solutions to meet client needs in creative services, strategic communications, training and eLearning programs, and program management. For more information about CATMEDIA, visit  

About Anna Gray Young

Anna Gray Young currently enjoys the position of Marketing and Social Media Intern at CATMEDIA. She works with the marketing and creative teams on day-to-day tasks, as well as marketing research and campaign strategy. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from the University of Mississippi.

3 thoughts on “Is Print Dead?

  1. Anna,

    It’s not an either or option. There is no question digital marketing provides far more cost effective ways to reach prospects and customers, and more importantly, to capture data and drive specific actions. The real impact of print is in creating a lasting impression, and as you point out a tangible reinforcement of the marketer’s message, and as such should never be left of the integrated marketing equation.

    Is it print dead? Certainly not. Is print as central to a marketing strategy as it was a decade or so ago, no. Until digital ink is able to replace the hold in your hand, hang on the wall, hand out to people dollar for dollar, print will continue to very much alive. Keep up the insightful writing.

    1. Michael,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad this topic resonates with you because I think it’s important for marketers/advertisers to understand that there is power in print. In a society that is focused on new digital mediums, we must not forget the impact that print can have. I agree that until digital is actually tangible, print will remain as a key player in the marketing mix.

  2. It’s my belief that each media has certain inherent qualities that allow it to perform some tasks better than all/most other media. For example, print can be disruptive, in a good way. Waiting for a haircut or having your car serviced, you glance at a magazine and read something that makes an impression on you. You didn’t go searching for it, but the message was present at the right time to make an impact on you. Oddly, those moments when we’re not in deep search, we’re often most open to new ideas and approaches. With that said, the incredibly efficient distribution model for digital information, makes it a very compelling. There is a place for both mediums and that is what makes thing we call marketing so much fun!

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