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CV Dealer Feature | Advertising: Print Vs Online

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Print and Digital Publisher, Colin Medwynter, guides us through the minefield of spending our advertising budgets.

Colin Medwynter- Online and Digital Publisher

Colin Medwynter- Online and Digital Publisher

A few years ago, radio was the most unique, popular and talked about medium for communication, entertainment and advertising, and many people thought it would be irreplaceable. Then in the 1950s, some bright spark invented something called television, which turned everything upside down.  

Gone were the days of sitting and listening to the wireless, taking in the news, soaps, dramas and comedy hours. Cries of “radio is dead” were heard coming from every home the length and breadth of the globe, followed by the ritual burning of radio boxes in favour of a smart new TV.

So, radio was finally dead and buried. Or so everyone thought. The truth is, since the birth of TV, radio has gone from strength to strength, from FM broadcasting, to satellite and internet radio stations. Revenue in the US for radio is currently around $20.77bn, with forecasts for 2019 suggesting this will grow to $22.76bn. It seems radio is still very much alive.

Why all this talk of radio and TV?

Well, it’s probably the closest comparison we can make between the internet and printed media, with many claiming books, magazines and newspapers are dead in favour of the ever growing internet.

Book Sales on the Up

Just a few examples of the printed products arriving daily

Just a few examples of the printed products arriving daily

However, recent reports from the book sector are saying that book sales are back on the rise despite the availability of e-readers and other devices. So the question is, how long before the newspaper and magazine sectors follow suit?

The truth is physical magazines are much easier and convenient to pick up and put down. I’m not sure that there will ever be a point where we will be sat in a waiting room or reception area, with a table full of iPads and tablets at our disposal ready for magazine browsing purposes.

After eight hours at work staring at a computer screen, do you really rush home and head straight for your iPad or tablet for more screen therapy?

Spread or Increase Budgets?

One of the biggest dilemmas facing marketers in many companies is whether their advertising budget is best spent online or in print. Most would admit that they have chosen to spread their budget across the two as opposed to increasing it; everyone is looking for the greatest exposure with the smallest amount spent. Of course the hardest part, regardless of whether you are advertising for brand awareness or direct response, is measuring the success of your advertising.

The internet has given many publishers the opportunity to enter into the market of ‘online-only’ magazines. There are also buying and selling sites such as Ebay and Gumtree, as well as specialist sites like Truck Locator to name a few. Whether the subject matter is birds and bird watching or lifestyle and fitness, the internet is overflowing with options for readers and advertisers alike.

The Internet v Printed Media

Like many conventional publishers, here at Focus we are serving two different bosses. We produce physical magazines that are sent out regular intervals throughout the year, and we deliver fully optimised websites that do pretty much the same job as the publications.

Fortunately, both mediums have their pros and cons…

Truck Dealer Print Advertising

Using print still remains the most popular way of marketing for dealers looking to generate enquiries, and subsequently move metal in the truck market.

Through the use of tracking phone numbers, we are able to monitor responses from physical magazines against other media, so we know for a fact that our magazines are still leading both in terms of brand awareness and direct response.

A key element of all magazine advertising is the advertiser taking the opportunity to put their web address prominently in their advertisement. Although rarely measured, it is understood that readers will go from print media directly to the advertiser’s website. This gives a truck dealer the ability to promote the full range of trucks and services that they have on offer using both mediums.

Without the introduction to the dealer’s website that the magazine advert provides, potential buyers will find it difficult, if not impossible, to find the dealer and his website amongst the millions of results thrown up by a search engine.

Why do online brands use print?

If printed media were dead or dying, why are some of the largest companies in the UK, with heavy internet presence, choosing to reach out their customers in print?

We are bombarded daily through the letterbox with catalogues and advertising material from companies renowned for being online – even online giant Amazon have opted for a massive print campaign over Christmas!

Without this kind of printed initiative, businesses are largely out of sight and out of mind. They need to keep reminding people who they are and what they have to offer. People generally react to messages that are put in front of them; being provided with a company takes away the need for a consumer to be pro-active and look for something via a search engine.

It is a known fact that customers buy more groceries when they physically go to a supermarket as opposed to shopping for groceries online; when things are actually put in front of us we are much more tempted to make a purchase, given the right offer or message.

So who are these big companies opting to promote their websites and products via the archaic method of print?

Ebay, Argos, Screwfix, Amazon, Wickes, B&Q, Bathstore, Next, John Lewis, M&M Sports, and Sports Direct all have a huge internet presence and produce printed products to help direct more buyers to their website.

Online Media– All Bad?

Although an online presence brings many opportunities, it also presents many problems. For example, is your site well optimised? What is the user experience like? Is it up to date?


It is worth considering the added expense of ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ (SEO).  After spending thousands of pounds designing a site, will the truck buying world beat a path automatically to it?

Unfortunately this is not the case. Typically Google and other search engines prefer established sites that are well designed, updated frequently with tonnes of unique, relevant and interesting content. Making sure your site meets this criteria is a full time job in itself, so how will the average dealer, who already has many demands upon their time, manage to get their site on page one of a search for ‘Trucks For Sale’, or even something more specific like ‘Mercedes-Benz Tippers For Sale’?

There will be plenty of dealers and publishers trying to be on page one, so what chance do you have? With thousands of dealers, and only ten slots available on page one, the chances are little to none, and yet it is no use being on page 12. The reality is, that the majority of visitors to your site will either search for your company name directly, or have found you from good old magazine advertising.

On a more sinister level, there have been a growing number of dealers who have had their sites and information duplicated by fraudsters posing as a particular dealer. They sell fictitious vehicles to would-be buyers who unsuspectingly end up paying someone they believe is a dealer for a vehicle they will probably never own.

There are also many other examples of this kind of activity where buyers from abroad go through the charade of purchasing a vehicle using some form of spurious payment method, which usually ends up with the dealer being minus a vehicle and with no money to show for it.

Unlike the relationship between radio and TV, there is much more synergy in a relationship of online and print media. The pair can work happily hand in hand, whilst paying each other compliments.

The reality is, a world without printed media is pretty much unthinkable. There is more than enough room for both, as long as advertisers can manage to weigh up the true benefits that online and print media offer, both individually and as a partnership