A media milestone of sorts occurred this week when the New York Times passed the one million mark in the number of digital-only subscribers to that venerable 165 year-old institution.
As the print editions of many a newspaper continue to fade into obscurity, digital editions take up the slack. And it is not only digital incarnations of formerly print-only advertising vehicles that are finding growing favour with audiences, it is entirely new digital technologies that consumers are turning to in droves. With mobile phone penetration in South Africa alone about to move up to the 140% mark, possibly next year, it’s unfortunate that some marketers refuse to recognise the signs pointing to the demise of print – very recently I mentioned to an acquaintance that a certain story had appeared on the web portal of a well-known South African newspaper, and set about showing him the article on my tablet. All he wanted to know was if he could nip down to the shops, pick up a hardcopy and find the same story in the print edition which has become embarrassingly thin.
Make no mistake, print will always have a place in society and that’s especially true with leisure reading, even though today a print edition of a book has a less than 1% chance of being offered for sale in an average bookstore. However, the fact is while we’re (allegedly) better informed, we’re reading less and what we are reading, is more often than not being consumed on a mobile phone screen. Tablets, laptops and desktops combined don’t even equal the amount of content consumers view on their cellular handsets.
Marketers should also be aware of the fact that even if print media sales were not declining to the point of oblivion, there is still the cost factor. Brands simply cannot reach consumers as cost effectively as they can with mobile. And more than that, mobile offers a degree of measurability and certainty that is unparalleled. Journalists are taught that the first paragraph of a well-written story should present all of the following facts to the reader: where, what, who, why and when.
We might not be able to tell our clients ‘why’ a targeted mobile consumer interacted with a certain mobile marketing message, but InTarget can answer all of the other questions and that’s the unique beauty of the mobile medium.