The current landscape of audience fragmentation, Internet advertising, and required accountability for advertising expenditures is exerting great pressure on the ability of main-stream, ad-supported media to survive. How can established media such as printed magazines, newspapers, and printed inserts survive? We start our examination of the topic by reviewing the media usage patterns of U.S. adults and advertising expenditure data from 2004. The average American adult over the age of 18 consumed a total of 9 hours, 35 minutes of media per day (Lindsay, 2006): 44.5% of media time was spent with TV; 27.8% with radio; 5% each with Internet, newspaper and recorded music; and 6% with magazines and books combined. The amount of advertising dollars spent on newspapers, consumer magazines, and business papers ads (including business magazines) accounts for approximately 40% of all media advertising expenditures in 2004 (Veronis Suhler Stevenson, 2004). Broadcast and cable TV and radio represent an additional 44% of the media advertising dollars spent. Although the Internet advertising category (including search and display advertising) was significantly smaller, it grew at a faster rate than all other media. The desire for advertising accountability starts with this question: Does advertising affect consumer buying behavior? The impact of advertising has been measured on a variety of outcome measures such as aggregate sales for a brand, individual brand choice behavior, and the intermediate effects of awareness, beliefs and attitudes towards the advertised brand. The relatively few research studies that have examined the impact of advertising in different media show that print advertising performs well compared with other media. For example: * In a study of the top 100 advertisers, higher correlations were found between a firm’s sales and the amount of print advertising it bought vs. sales and the amount it spent on broadcast advertising. * Magazine advertising was more effective than network TV advertising for promoting SUV brands over a 10-year period. * People who were exposed to printed newspaper advertising had a higher recognition of ad content than those who received an online version of the same advertising message. * For a food franchiser, the best sales resulted from advertising media spent concurrently on primary direct mail and national TV advertising. * In a Doubleclick study, the most influential sources of information affecting purchase decisions, overall, were word-of-mouth and salesperson sources. For individual product categories, printed advertising was the most influential source of information for consumers who purchased personal care / home care products, and the second most influential source for those purchasing consumer electronics and home improvement products. * In a study of newspaper readers, 78% reported that they used newspaper inserts to plan shopping, and 76% said that inserts helped them save money. * Dimensional mail yielded a 5.4% lead generation rate (vs. email at 3.27%), and co-op shared mail produced a 5.47% direct order rate vs. 4.16% for Internet banner ads. While these research studies show the effectiveness of printed advertising, more robust methodologies must be developed in this new era of accountability. Two new audience response metrics are discussed that may deliver on this promise: single source databases and experimental designs. Single source databases such as the Apollo Project provide precise data to advertisers about the impact of exposure to a variety of advertising media on a participant’s response of buying certain products and brands. An example of an experimental design methodology is presented in the book “What Sticks” by Briggs and Stuart (2006). The process begins with the specification of communication objectives at the outset of a campaign to define the use of appropriate metrics. The media mix optimization can be assessed when the outcome data (e.g., change in awareness) are gauged against the cost per response (CPR) for each ad medium. The Briggs and Stuart method may be a good model for all print media owners, publishers, and print services providers who need to prove, with every campaign, that print advertising delivers an acceptable return on the advertiser’s investment.

Publication Date


Document Type

Full-Length Book


A Research Monograph of the Printing Industry Center (CIAS) at RIT

Department, Program, or Center

Printing Industry Center (CIAS)


RIT – Main Campus