Print vs. Digital: The Rebirth of Print Media in the Digital Age

Many are surprised to hear that print is becoming increasingly popular with millenials and younger generations, but the proof is in the data. Millennials are chastised for being glued to their phones, yet print media still holds an important place in their daily lives. Even people from the older generation, while they increasingly shop online, are much more likely to trust information in print media than information published in digital formats.

Research has found a significant difference between communicating through tangible, printed materials and communicating through digital materials. Though the working world has shifted to computers and cloud services, many of its industries still rely on print media for marketing, communication, and other important functions.

Comprehension and Reward

It’s easier to comprehend information when it’s delivered through printed material—not because the information on a digital screen is more difficult to read but because your mind is less likely to wander and become distracted when you’re looking at print than when you’re browsing digital content.

In fact, Scientific American discovered that most screens interfere with the navigation of text, causing stress and exhaustion when used for reading comprehension tests. In addition, scrolling through digital media has been found to be mentally draining, meaning the reader must move and comprehend text at the same time.

In terms of reward, print media outperforms digital media. Temple University published a study that looked at 3D printed images of participants’ brain activity. The study showed that paper advertisements activated the ventral striatum area of the brain more than digital media did. This specific part of the brain is strongly associated with reward and reinforcement. So it’s easier to not only comprehend information through print but also engage with whatever content is presented to you.

Education and Societal Benefits

It’s no question that increasing literacy around the world greatly improves society as a whole. Many companies are dedicated to improving literacy. Kodak, for example, is reaching global communities through its Print for Good initiative.

While it seems that most of us can access the internet, a whopping 4.9 billion people cannot. The only way these people can learn is through print media, and Print for Good’s mission is to provide these people with print to help them learn how to read. By learning to read, they are able to enter the world of education and are given seemingly endless possibilities for their working future.

Even workplaces, though mostly plugged in, are creating print materials to educate their employees. As said above, it’s been proven that retention and comprehension is improved through print, and that helps ensure return on investment with these kinds of programs.

Ecological Sustainbility

You might be questioning this headline already–how can paper products be more sustainable than digital ones? The reality is that power cannot be recycled, but paper can. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that recycling paper provides “multiple benefits, including: extending the wood fiber supply; reducing greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding methane emissions; contributing to carbon sequestration; reducing energy needed for paper production, and saving landfill space.”

Furthermore, as a renewable resource, paper can be regrown or replenished in one or two human lifetimes. As long as you are purchasing from sustainable companies, you are receiving paper that comes from well-managed forests or farms that are dedicated to replanting trees at the rate of four times more than they harvest.

Leisure

Imagine yourself heading to the park or the beach and bringing your favorite book along with you. There is still something wonderful about the smell of a fresh paper book and the crisp turn of a page. You can pass down a book to a child or loan it to a friend. And each read preserves unique memories that are entirely your own. Especially in a time where our eyes are mostly straining to look at screens for work, the joy of printed material becomes much more appealing.

Final Thoughts

Every industry has its own marketing goal, and print media can play a crucial role in that area. Research has proven that print is still an important and sought-after media in today’s world, regardless of what it’s used for. Millenials are reading more than previous generations at the same age, as well as appreciating the experience of physically owning a book.

By 2020, 50% of the workforce in America will consist of millennials. Now is the time to realize the crucial role that print media plays in every aspect of life and take advantage of the various ways it can be used to promote your company and business initiatives in a way that’s more intriguing and readily comprehensible.

Contact us today for more information about the importance of printed materials.