Print advertising is really taking a beating right now - especially the New York Times.
"Nobody reads newspapers anymore" is a common phrase heard in many
meeting we sit in. "People get their news online."
While most research supports the claim that more and
more people are getting their news online, that doesn't mean that print
advertising, especially the New York Times, is no longer a
viable channel to reach ticket buyers. The circulation is
over 1.68 million readers for the Sunday Times. (view media kit as a .pdf)
Personally, I think the biggest issue print advertising
will face is maintaining their current ad rates. The statistics
show that that less people are turning to newspapers to get their news
so I think it's going to be hard to maintain rates with a trend of
declining readership and an increase supply in competing media.
The way news travels has changed and so will the way
people get their news. The concept of daily news delivered in
print will continue to change simply because as a business model it
won't make sense if everything continues in the direction that it's
The jury is still out on the future of print advertising. Things change - things adapt - nobody can predict the future.
But, to get more insight into the topic, I sat down with the creative mastermind of SpotCo Drew Hodges to get his take on the current state of print advertising as well as his thoughts on some other topics.
(theSITUATION): What is your belief on the future of
print advertising? Do you think the current complaints of
print over exaggerated?
(DREW HODGES): Print, at least as far as Theater
is concerned still has a role to play. As much as we all love to intone
how "print is dead", when we do our research, readership of the New York Times
still ranks first as a source of theater information. Obviously we are
seeing an enormous rise in the use of the Internet as both a research
and purchasing tool, but for the moment print still legitimizes a show
in a way that is hard to quantify. And, it delivers a national
awareness we cannot afford to do in broadcast. But print will get
weaker for the simple reason that audiences want to know more before
they put down their credit card, and televisio, radio and most of all
the web are better tools to deliver greater information. Those mediums
are going to be able to provide a deeper communication, one that is
saturated with more iinight, and at their best, more of an emotional
(tS): What is your feeling on the current state of
direct mail? Is there more impact from a campaign than what the
discount code reports?
(DH): Mail seems to be slowing in response to
over-saturation. I still believe if we are asking people to purchase
early on with little information, price is one of the few incentives we
have. The other incentive we have is familiarity. Every purchase people
make is a risk - and the more information you can give, the less the
risk to a consumer. So understanding the story line of The Color
Purple, or hearing that Billy Elliot is a smash in London will continue
to help convince people to buy early. With the advent of more media
rich alternatives like the web, in the future we may be able to give
people a better idea of what a new project might be like earlier in the
process, before previews begin -sneak peeks at rehearsals, interviews
with the key creatives, etc.. I also think we are getting a broader
spectrum of standard pricing. If you take into account student tickets,
through all of the seating areas right on through premium seats, you
now have a much broader set of price points -more choices than ever
before. We are moving closer and closer to a "right price for the right
market" strategy. We probably need to spend more time differentiating
value for price within the theater to help this along.
(tS): Many producers say we are not chasing the
Tony awards... spending $$'s doesn't make sense. But, as you
know, many of them are. What do you think the effect of
advertising has on the Tony awards?
(DH): Our philosophy is to try and use your Tony
advertising to further strengthen what is unique about your brand -
your point of difference. I often find some producers are unclear what
that is. If you emphasize that thing that makes you unique, win or lose
the award, you have strengthened you position within the market.
However, advertising with the same message as your three competitors,
namely the category you are nominated in as your sole communication,
doesn't accomplish much except drain your budget.