In an Increasingly AI World, Print’s Value is Greater than Ever

With the advent of AI and all the content it’s beginning to “produce,” consumers are becoming increasingly wary of the content they see online. As a result, the real and perceived value of print media is enjoying another resurgence. 

In the digital world, there’s very little you can retain for very long. Ads show up and then disappear seconds later. Social media posts more than a week old feel like they were created years ago, and almost no one sees them. Streaming companies routinely ‘disappear’ movies and TV shows they decide not to keep. 

Physical media, and in particular when it comes to advertising — print media — by its very nature possesses greater perceived and inherent value than digital. And AI is only increasing this dichotomy. 

Comparing print to digital media

Imagine a young couple moving to a new city. They just graduated college and are preparing to start their careers. They’re unfamiliar with their new surroundings and have few connections. They have no pre-existing habits or routines in this new place. 

They go online and see all sorts of ads, some of which are targeting them based on their new location, and others of which could be shown to someone on the other side of the world. Most of these ads have little relevance to their new situation. But even the ones that do have relevance are there for a moment and gone forever with the scroll of a finger.

But when they come home to their front door, there’s a door hanger for a local store. Then, they open their mailbox and find a handful of print advertising campaigns designed around the “Welcome to the neighborhood” theme. They find introductions to several local businesses, upcoming events, new neighbor discounts and coupons, and more.

Which set of ads will be more valuable to this recently relocated couple?

They can keep the print media on their “to do” pile, along with all the other tasks associated with moving. They can keep it on their fridge or coffee table. They can use it to adjust to their new locale, personalize their home, and try out some local businesses. The print media stays with them, and serves as a helpful asset.

demonstration of physical promotional materials

But the digital media comes and goes. What they saw yesterday has vanished forever. What they see today will suffer the same fate by tomorrow. 

Do you see the difference in value in this scenario? 

You can generalize this scenario to just about any context — coming home from work, going to work, having children, getting married, switching jobs, going to school, wondering where to eat on Friday night — in any scenario, there is a difference in how print vs digital media gets perceived, valued, and used.

Reasons why print media offers greater value than digital media

There’s nothing wrong with digital marketing, but there’s growing distrust in every platform as consumers grow to understand how easy it is to manipulate social feeds and spread information that can’t be verified.

It takes more effort and Labor to Produce

By its very nature, print media requires much more time and labor to create. You must write the content and design the layout. And you have one chance at this, because once it is printed, you can’t adjust it without incurring substantial cost. 

Greater care and attention thus goes into producing print media, and the recipient correctly perceives that and assigns greater value to what’s in their hands.

It’s more trustworthy

A recent Poynter article wrote about the increasing value of print media as a result of generative AI. They discuss the idea of “proof of trust,” and that print inherently has a greater amount of this because of the costs and labor required to produce it.

No company is going to trust AI to generate a print advertising campaign and then just send it out in the mail. There’s too much at stake due to what it takes to produce print media. And as AI continues to churn out generic, fairly bland, and sometimes inaccurate content of all sorts, the assurance felt by readers of print media is only going to increase.

They’ll start wondering things like, who made this? Are they cybercriminals? Scammers? If they are a legitimate business, are they competent? The cheap and effortless nature of AI-generated content erodes trust in companies that depend on it. 

man delivering doorhangers

There’s a real cost to create and distribute print media

All it takes to send a digital media campaign is to press buttons on a keyboard, touch a screen, or click a mouse. You can do it all from some backroom. And many scammers, hackers, and other untrustworthy enterprises do exactly that. Now with AI, many legitimate businesses are doing this more and more — putting less and less effort into their digital media productions.

But to send a print media campaign requires much more. If it’s any kind of mass mailing, even targeted to a few thousand addresses in a neighborhood, you must invest in printing, ink, paper, postage, and some sort of distribution network. 

That means physical trucks or cars, someone to drive them, a place to put the media when it gets delivered, and a way to keep track of which addresses need delivery — these are all part of the campaign. 

Higher cost weeds out disreputable and amateur media producers.

There’s greater permanence

Digital ads flash on the screen while you’re busy doing other tasks. You may or may not look at them. Then, they disappear and are gone forever. Oftentimes, you never see the same ad again. Even though you might potentially have some interest, if you don’t take action immediately, your opportunity may be gone forever.

This is why conversion rates with display ads, and social media ads in particular, are so horrendous.

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The average conversion rate for display ads across all industries is 0.55%. For social media, it has hovered around 1.3% for quite some time. 

Why is this true? Because these forms of media come and go so fast. You have mere seconds to not just get the prospect’s attention and keep it long enough for them to consider your message, but on many platforms they also have to click on it before it disappears and gets replaced by another ad. 

Compare that to a postcard. 

Now, a postcard is not the most effective form of print media. Door hanger distribution like what Power Direct specializes in is far more effective. The reason is because when you see something on your front porch, you will look at it. It feels more like receiving a package than getting mail. Your impression rate will be nearly 100%. With those kinds of numbers, your conversion rate can’t help but be better, too.

But even a postcard has far more permanence than a digital ad. 

You can set it on the counter, put it on the table, or leave it on the nightstand. You can take it with you. You can come back to it later. You can show it to your spouse. You can look up the website listed on the postcard to learn more. All the while, the postcard is there, working for the advertiser who sent it. 

Permanence equals value. And print media has far more permanence than any digital media channel.

It’s more useful

Print media brings with it the feeling that it’s useful. When you get coupons in the mail, you can flip through them, take out the few that might apply to you, and decide if you want to use them later. You don’t have to “act now” before the ad vanishes forever. Again, you have the benefit of time due to the greater amount of permanence. 

Now, door hangers are even better because they’re not so easily discarded with the mail, but any print media has at least some permanence. 

Physical advertisements are useful. You bring it to the store. You show it to the service professional who comes to your home to perform a task. You use it to call the company to ask questions or look them up online. You show it to your significant other.

Print media can be used for a variety of tasks. But have you ever tried to show a digital ad to someone who isn’t in the room when you see it? Unless you grab a screenshot and send it immediately, it’s virtually impossible. 

Can you save a digital ad and use it later? Can you use the digital ad to contact customer support or get answers to questions? It’s much more difficult due to the nature of the media. 

Use print media to make bold and strong impressions

None of this is meant to imply that digital media has no value whatsoever. It’s merely that print media possesses more inherent and perceived value. 

And with AI generating mostly unimpressive written content, the value of print media is only going to increase — in the eyes of your customers, prospects, and leads. They’ll get bored with digital media advertising that feels increasingly familiar. They will become even more suspicious. And they will ignore it more and more as we keep going down this road.

To amp up the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, approach your target audience with print advertising media. 

For even greater effectiveness, use a multimedia approach. If you can target the same customers with digital ads in addition to print media — the greater value of the print media will transfer in the minds of your prospects to the digital media as well. 

In other words, imagine your prospects seeing a digital ad for your product or service but not clicking on it. Then, they receive print media promoting the same campaign or product. Now, that digital ad elevates in their mind. It becomes more trustworthy, more memorable, and more useful.

When they see the next digital ad at just the right time — they convert. It’s a perfect one-two punch that improves the results of all of your campaigns.

The most effective, memorable, and permanent form of print media advertising is door hanger distribution.

With Power Direct, you can place a mini-billboard on the front porch of highly targeted prospects, targeted far more accurately than mere zip codes. Dial into the exact streets where your most valuable prospects live

Our method of door to door marketing using flyer distribution ensures that only the prospects who best align with your goals and targeted demographics and psychographics receive your valuable, printed, and durable door hangers. 

See a door hanger example and case study