Digital Media vs. Print Media: Which is Better For You?

Print publishing offers a vital tactile experience. Folding page corners to earmark favorite articles, cutting out newspaper clippings, flipping from page to page. The problem is that once you’re tucked that important clipping away into a folder, you likely forget about it.

We love our glossy paper but our reality is digital media. So how can you keep your content alive and relevant? What factors do you need to think about as you decide how to invest in your magazine future? Let look at some considerations when deciding how to address the Print Media vs. Digital Media dilemma at your organization.

Print Media Pros

Yours forever. One thing is certain about glossy magazines and periodicals: They’re yours forever. Hoard them, share them, lend them, or borrow them. They’re subject only to the time limits you set.

Sensory experience. Studies show that we retain knowledge and experiences better through physical interaction. Thumbing through pages, writing notes, and highlighting passages are all central features we are still finding ways to replace in the digital media world. Miguel Cornejo, managing partner at Macuarium Network, adds, “Many users still appreciate the familiar format, especially if they can turn it into just one more channel of their content-consuming experience.

Easy to pay. We still buy on impulse in the real world. Whether at the supermarket, on the street, or while shopping, grabbing a print media magazine is a simple, low-commitment purchase when you抮e out and about.

Print Media Cons

Can’t keep up. The 24-hour news cycle turned into the 24-second news cycle with the rise of social media, making it impossible for even legendary print media publications to keep up with breaking news.

Readers now expect a full picture. Instant features, infographics, visuals, videos, and dispatches from the Twittersphere. Print media alone just can’t keep up.

Scaling is difficult. Publishing a print media magazine requires overhead, production, and material costs that digital media publishing obliterated. A print media publication is always limited to an audience of those who physically get their hands on it.

Limited feedback. When you publish a print media magazine, you’ll never really know what your readers think about it. Sure, some may write you back with comments, but the more telling information is in the details: How long did they spend reading that article? What features did they skip entirely? These details are not just nice to know they give you valuable information on what content resonates with your readers and where you are simply wasting resources. Without a digital media site, you will never know.

Digital Media Pros

Interactivity. New York Magazine didn’nt merely shift its print media content to its mobile app: it created a cool, value-added experience. As Apple Insider reports, “An article in one issue about former US Vice President Dick Cheney was merely a small sidebar in the print media edition. But the ability to enhance the content on the iPad with larger graphics and interactivity led to a full-page item in the digital media copy.

Social sharing and community. Users increasingly expect to interact with the content they consume. The goal is to draw visitors to your blog for the commenting community and entice them to stay for the articles. Your commenting system should give readers both platform and incentive to respond to and challenge both authors and one another. The result is a robust community of readers and contributors.

Ad-serving flexibility. When you enter the world of digital media publishing, you open the door to digital media advertising. Not only can you serve multiple ads in one advertising space, but also you can employ some of the latest advertising technology, too. Digital media advertising enables readers to engage with ads whether banner ads or more intensive sponsored content.

Digital Media Cons

Online plagiarism. Digital media publishers need to take additional steps to protect their written content, photos, videos, and other original works. Once the content goes online, you are open to the risk of others reproducing or altering your work with limited regulatory control.

Shorter attention spans. We’re heading into uncharted territory: Adult readers have shorter attention spans. Meanwhile, studies show school children today are able to resist distractions from work for about two minutes before checking their phones or newsfeeds. They understand and remember less, and they have greater difficulty transferring their learning to new contexts. Digital media has to work extra hard to keep its attention-deficit readers engaged.

Print Media vs. Digital Media: It Not “Whether It “How Much

When considering your publishing strategy, associations should first understand how members and other readers derive value from your content. For example, how does the iconic New Yorker magazine promote its digital media offering without alienating its print media subscribers? By offering them a lot more for just a little more. Readers can subscribe either for print media or digital media access at the same price ($59.99) or get the combo package with bonus access to its archives for just $10 more ($69.99). Rather than devalue its digital media subscription as other magazines do, the New Yorker asks its increasingly mobile readership: “Wouldn’nt you rather just have both?

However, what works for the New Yorker won’nt necessarily work for you. Your strategy may look different if your organization is a thought leader providing key reference materials versus a lean newsblog focused on high-volume publishing. In fact, introducing a niche print media magazine in today cutthroat digital media environment especially one like Modern Farmer, which is matte-printed on thick stock paper commands attention for its sense of gravitas and permanence.

Going digital media presents the challenge of turning your articles, information, and resources into a valuable standalone experience and to complement your print media counterpart (if you have one). Consider how to leverage your digital media strategy for new avenues of growth. The question is not “whether rather, it is what level of digital media investment you should make to maintain and grow your readership.

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