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Strategic insights
Debunking the Effectiveness of Print Advertising

Brands are still measuring their print ROI based on the good old days of scarcity. But because of the connected world, those days no longer exist...and nor does the ROI.

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Written by on November 12, 2012

Anyone who is working with digital media knows about the unfairness of how it is judged. On one hand we have the print people who are convinced that their catalogs, newspaper ads, and VIP club promotions all work splendidly despite the fact that they never measure it. On the other hand we have the highly measured digital world, where our click through rates are 0.1%, Facebook fan engagement rate is 5%, and shopping cart conversion rates are 2%...which are all pretty low numbers.

I have stopped counting the number of times that I have been in a meeting trying to convince a marketing executive that 2% is a pretty good number, while the same manager firmly believes that all his print advertising is producing much bigger results.

Here is the thing though. Print advertising does work, in some cases. Just as digital advertising works in some cases. I'm not for or against either one. The problem isn't the format or the action, it's this blind belief that something works, without having any data to support it.

There is a very easy way to prove or disprove the effectiveness of print advertising, or as we say in the industry, calculate the ROI.

Here is what you do:

Let's say that you have advertised in a popular magazine, reaching one million people for the cost of $10,000. And, let's say that your profit is 25% of the sales price.

With this it's easy to calculate the ROI. To earn enough money to cover the cost of the advertising, you need to sell products worth at least $40,000 - and that's just to break even.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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