What Is the Definition of Print Media?

By Neil Kokemuller

Updated January 13, 2019

Magazines and newspapers are the dominant traditional print media used in advertising. Brochures, flyers and other collateral pieces are sometimes referred to as print collateral. While digital media expansion has affected use of print, it remains a viable way to advertise.

Magazine Pros and Cons

Magazines are a highly engaging medium with strong audience interest. People buy and read magazines because they care about the specific topics covered. A fashion and apparel retailer presenting messages in Vogue or Glamour can make a strong impression on clothing enthusiasts. The print and color quality of magazines is highly impacting relative to newspapers.

A key drawback of magazines relative to newspapers is long lead times. With newspapers, you can get a message placed within a day or two. Magazines have lead times as long as a couple months, according to Inc. This lack of timely delivery inhibits your ability to present a recent message or to get an impromptu message placed quickly.

Newspaper Pros and Cons

Newspaper ads allow size flexibility. Advertisers can choose between placements ranging from one-eighth of a page up to a full page. Strong geographic segmentation is another benefit. Small companies use newspapers as an affordable way to communicate information to a wide local marketplace.

Limited creative abilities and poor reproduction quality after numerous copies are common drawbacks of newspapers. Attracting attention from a reader is also difficult in a publication with 50 to 100 or more box ads. Newspapers also have a short life, as people normally get rid of them after one reading.

Other Prominent Print Media

Other types of print media or materials used in advertising include:

  • Direct mail - Companies send letters, postcards and other items in the mail to customers. Targeted mailers typically have a higher response rate than mass mailers.
  • Directories - The evolution of online directories has minimized the impact of local print directories. However, this format offers a low-cost way to present an enduring message and point of contact to people in a community.
  • Brochures - Captivating and colorful brochures offer delivery flexibility and the opportunity to tell a story throughout the panels of the layout.
  • Posters and flyers - Local companies often use low-cost posters and flyers to spread the word about a business, product or event. Though some cities have placement restrictions, distributing flyers around town is a low-cost distribution approach.

Print vs. Digital

The rise of digital or electronic media caused Forbes to craft an article titled, "Print is Dead? Not so Fast." While digital media offers rapid, real-time engagement opportunities with customers, the article pointed out of a number of strengths of print that make it a viable delivery platform.

Primary strengths of print relative to digital include tangibility, an enduring message and high credibility. Some people prefer to read media in print as opposed to digital formats.

Newspapers and magazines also are tangible items that often sit on a table or chair at a home or business, attracting attention. Magazines are often kept in racks or on tables for weeks, allowing for several exposures. Print media also is perceived as credible relative to digital media, according to Forbes.