the answer to the print versus digital debate?



In all sectors of media, technology and communications, two camps seem to exist: print lovers who spread the slogan “print is not dead ”, and digital natives who believe that their“ virtual environments are the future ”.

But, the truth is, the two are right.

How is that possible, you will ask me? Let’s explain:

Digital versus printed

Technology is the foundation of the contemporary world in which we live. In South Africa alone, 94.6% of citizens have access to the Internet via their mobile devices. Work, school and play all occur online to varying degrees. People access news through social media platforms and websites, and turn to digital solutions for their enjoyment. These include Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, or Twitch.

The virtual environment has provided users with many options, prompting marketers and brands to follow suit and deliver digitized advertising campaigns or electronic content. With the rise of the metaverse – yes that’s one thing – go digital is the future.

Print media, on the other hand, remains a fan favorite. Whether it’s skyrocketing book sales during the pandemic or magazines that hold up, the print media is showing it’s getting nowhere! Plus, brands around the world benefit, as consumers would remember them better if they had interacted with brand messages through print.

This traditional form of media is tangible and tactile, which means it engages the senses of consumers. For this reason, it has the ability to cut digital noise more clearly.

And while print and digital have so many unique advantages, they will be stronger together than separately.

Interactive printing

You might have guessed it, but interactive printing is a term that refers to the combination of traditional printing with digital elements. It is also called clickable paper and is mainly used in mixed media campaigns.

This combo once again brings user experience to the fore. By using print products that leverage mobile content delivery, the consumer becomes an active participant in the customer journey. Indeed, they interact with panels or posters which immerse them in a digital world.

There are many different technologies that can be used to digitize any printed media! Whether a brand wants to launch a mixed media campaign or a newspaper is looking to deliver information a little differently – the technology is available.

Interactive printing focuses on brands by using omnichannel to deliver news or brand messages. Print and digital media used together can reach a much larger audience than just one and provide consumers with a cohesive product or service.

Interactive printing options

There are many ways to integrate print and digital. We’ll take a look:

Quick response codes (QR)
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past two decades, you know what these square grids are. This type of barcode is an optical machine-readable label. Information is embedded in it and a digital device conveniently retrieves it and performs an action such as directing you to a specific website.

It is often associated with paper by printing it on flyers, posters, tickets or labels. When scanned by a QR scanner or your phone (you can download an app if it’s not a built-in feature), the code directs you to the brand’s website distributing the flyers. It can also be used to play a video, direct you to a form, or retrieve geographic information.

Augmented reality (AR)
Augmented reality uses a virtual augmentation layer on top of the real world. This is similar to when you use animal ear filters on social media. But instead of adding bunny ears to your face, an image on a brochure can come to life.

The advantages are that even though interactive printing takes up less space in the physical world, it still presents all the important information that the consumer needs to know. In cases where the product does not yet exist but needs to be visualized, the AR fills the gap and shows its physical dimensions and appearance to the customer.

The technology works by creating hot spots on a page that a mobile device then saves to create the 3D or animated images.

Virtual reality (VR)
Similar to augmented reality, virtual reality creates an alternate reality that users can interact with even more! Instead of just listening to audio playback when an image comes to life, users can retrieve virtual objects as if they actually existed.

Unfortunately, the combination of print and virtual reality involves additional equipment and higher costs. You will see AR and print combined a lot more than VR.

In South Africa, a good example of a campaign where interactive printing has been used is the Pick ‘n Pay Super Animals series. Customers received a pack of four collectible cards for every R150 spent. Each card contained specific information about an animal and a barcode (the older brother of the QR code). The corresponding application would bring digitized maps to life.

Do you think print and digital are partners or enemies? Let us know in the comments below.

Don’t let FOMO get you down, subscribe to our newsletter.

Do you want to know more about print media? Why not find out more about The role of B2B communications in print.

* Image courtesy of Canva

Print versus digital interactive printing mixed media campaigns clickable paper printing is not dead print vs digital media


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.