Home / Opinion / Quick Edit /  The vastly exaggerated death of print media

Total spending on advertising in India is expected to rise almost 11% in 2020 over the previous year to cross 91,640 crore, according to a forecast by GroupM, a media buying agency. Online ads would be 30% of this, up from a share of 27% last year, while TV is expected to grab 42%, and print about 20%. That digital ads are gaining is ho-hum news. The surprise, in some ways, is that it still gets a smaller slice of the ad rupee than TV.

Some would argue that the real surprise is the 20% share that print media still attracts. Millennials form the core target audience for just about every advertiser, and they are supposed to be internet addicts, more or less. There is no way to reach them other than via their smartphones, some believe. But is this really true? And how valuable are these online-only consumers of media?

Enough research can be cited to argue that millennials not only read, many of them are heavy readers. Far from being allergic to paper, a significant proportion of them like to pore over printed material, including newspapers. How come? For one, print helps avoid the echo chamber effect. It exposes readers to a wider view of the world. But the bigger reason is ‘WhatsApp University’, as the online quip goes. Avalanched by fake news and propaganda on social media, the smarter lot are observed to have rediscovered the value of credible news sources. While forwards can be faked and websites hacked, words printed on paper under a verifiable mast-head cannot be digitally distorted. This is why print vehicles should continue to attract the smart ad money. Discerning audiences are worth more.

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