When English comedian, actor & social commentator, Stephen Fry, tweeted about the effect that digital signage has on print, his words were profound – “One technology doesn’t replace another, it complements it – books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators! Just as video didn’t kill the radio star in the 70s and Napster didn’t destroy the music industry in the 90s, digital signage should not be seen as a threat to print, but rather the next evolution of it and a symbiotic companion for it. Can’t we all just get along? Well yes, actually we can!”
And one of South Africa’s experts in the digital arena, Andrew Ridl, CEO of One Digital Media, concurs. “Whilst digital has become a firm favorite in the communications arena over the past decade and the digital transformation has permanently changed the media industry, in certain areas it won’t replace print. Print will always have its own space and purpose. In reality, the tangible nature of physical media remains important to a large percentage of consumers.
“There are many current marketing and advertising campaigns that take place where print components are effectively used,” says Ridl. “Loyalty cards, discount fliers, pamphlets and street pole posters achieve specific campaign objectives, so why throw them out if they work? It’s time to develop integrated marketing campaigns that bring the best of both worlds together.
Print is a target-specific medium and with the introduction of digital to the marketing stable, will become more so. It makes sense when you come into physical contact with your customers at an event or a specific location, to use print. For example, a pharmaceutical company promoting their new findings or new products, would do so using print advertising in specific publications, on pamphlets or posters found in doctor’s waiting rooms.
Glossy magazines and leading publications hold a prestige and status that online is unable to achieve. The tangible platform resonates well with luxury consumers and clients, and the secret is to find a complementary balance between digital and print within any given campaign that successfully achieves the defined objectives.
“If a business relies on signage to drive sales or footfall, there is no doubt that effective digital signage is worth the initial investment, especially when considering long-term use,” added Ridl. “In the beginning, more start-up expenses will be incurred digitally than with print material, however long-term savings will always be realised.”
Printed in-store POS material requires time and money for design, admin, printing and distribution, but digital requires a one-off cost and installation, with minor ongoing costs for support and maintenance. In addition, if printed signage is damaged, a typo mistake made, or if a product or price needs to be changed, the signage becomes useless and has to be discarded.
Whilst traditional forms of print communication used in the retail space including POS posters, catalogues, fliers and billboards, may continue to be relevant for some brands, products and stores, for the large majority it’s time to push past the traditional boundaries and truly engage with consumers via digital signage.
Nowadays the relevance of signage can be altered at the touch of a button and the old adage of ‘Time is Money’ becomes relevant in the digital communication signage space. In just a few clicks, new content can be displayed on digital signage in-store, across one or multiple locations around the country or throughout the world.
However, the big question that all business owners and marketing teams need to think about when deciding on print or digital, is what are the campaign objectives?