On Sunday, March 25, 2018, Facebook ran a full page printed ad in a number of newspapers, including The Observer and the Sunday Times. The ad was an apology letter for the Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw the data of 87 million Facebook users breached.
With the company’s stock plummeting, and high-profile individuals telling users to ditch the site with the #DeleteFacebook hashtag, the tech giant resorted to a printed letter in a PR bid to salvage its reputation. The headline read “We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it”
Mark Zuckerberg’s ad was framed for believability in a simple letter format. The Cambridge Analytica story first broke in print, so it makes sense that Facebook would choose print as the medium for its apology, given the severity of the incident. Seeing the world’s biggest tech giant use a newspaper ad to offer the world an apology can teach us a lot about the lasting power of print media.
Is print media dead
For the last number of years, we’ve been peddled the narrative that print media is dead. This is understandable given the precarious position the news industry has been in for the past decade or so. Newsrooms have been culled worldwide and the loss of print revenue has made it increasingly difficult for papers to stay afloat. But though it’s taken a massive hit, there is reason to hold out hope for printed media.
Print media will always trump digital media when it comes to credibility. With the rise of online news, our scepticism as readers has also been steadily increasing. Facebook’s apology was published in print because printed media has more gravity, more credibility than digital news sources. This is, of course, due in large part to the fake news stories which proliferated on social media sites like Facebook itself.
Paying for quality
Recent studies have shown that millennials are increasingly willing to pay for quality news. The rise of digital disinformation has proven that many people would rather pay for reputable news sources than take their chances in the wild west of unknown online sites. Readers generally have more trust in print news than they do in the news they see through social media outlets. And for news outlets, trust is the most valuable currency between themselves and their readers.
It’s also been proven that people tend to skim read more when they read news online. Unlimited access to online news has left people inundated with content. As a result, our capacity for focussing on a particular article or news source online is constantly challenged by an oversaturation of advertisements and alternative sites. Print media, on the other hand, offers readers a linear reading experience with a limited number of articles, meaning that readers are more likely to commit their attention to what they’re reading.
Advertisers too have something to gain in targeting print media outlets. Ad space online is infinite and customers’ inboxes are likely full of unwanted ads. In print, however, ad space is far more limited, making it a valuable resource. For marketers, investing in print advertising is never a wasted exercise, and combining both digital and print efforts will give a well rounded view of your company.
This is particularly the case for advertisers who wish to promote design in their promotional materials. Printed advertisements are mobile, and immediately visible. They aren’t restricted to the confines of a computer screen.
The resurgence of interest in print media is reflective of readers’ desires to not always be “switched on”. Amidst the noise of online news, print offers readers the space to digest content at their own pace.
To contact print journalists, MediaHQ has you covered. For more information, click here or call Gaye on (01) 254 1845.