If Print Is Dead, Why Is Google in My Mailbox?

By | May 20, 2011

Yesterday, I returned from the Print Solutions 2011 Conference and Expo where one of the over-riding themes was, not the death of print, but how digital content is driving print.

  • Did you know that eight of the top 10 bestselling books in Japan are print versions of mobile novels (novels written in 200–300 word chunks on mobile phones)?
  • Or that Justin Halpern’s bestselling book $#*! My Dad Says (now a sitcom starring William Shatner) was printed because of his success on Twitter?
  • Or that Zappo’s — the 100% online merchandiser — uses a printed book to build its brand?

“If print is dead,” said Andrew Davis, owner of Tippingpoint Labs in his presentation “Positioning Print for Today’s Customer” (from which these examples were taken), “then why are Google and Yahoo! using direct mail to promote Internet search?”

Good point. As I sat in the presentation, I thought about the multiple direct mail pieces sitting on my own kitchen counter at home. They were from Google, with integrated cards inviting me to expand my AdWords account. Haven’t gotten anything from Yahoo! yet, but it’s probably a matter of time.

When I got home from the trip, I was going through my mail and I had to smile and think of Andrew. Yet another direct mail solicitation from Google.

Have you gotten direct mail from Google lately? If so, what does this say about the viability of print?

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4 thoughts on “If Print Is Dead, Why Is Google in My Mailbox?

  1. Michael Jahn

    I guess I am confused as to who is actually suggesting “print is dead” – did someone from Google say such a thing ?

    I too have a bunch of direct mail sitting in my home office and Sacramento office in box. Most of it goes directly into the trash. I spend quite a bit of time contacting companies who send me unsolicited faxes and catalogs, asking them to stop.

    There are many great reason to print something, mostly ( to me ) it is related to a container of a product that can’t be emailed.

    The reasons to print communication is diminishing.

  2. Andrew Bruce

    Heidi, I enjoyed our conversation today! I would like to further define the life cycle of a direct or transactional mail piece and identify each opportunity the print buyer has to communicate a message to a potential customer along its journey. Through the mail: from the mail box, to the garage (trash), to the kitchen (trash) to the desk (trash) to the file.
    Who sees this mail piece and where can it be seen:
    Mail carrier, Mom, Dad, teens, children, friends and other family members.
    And now the technology exists to print unique and targeted images, message and QR on every mail piece how do we get marketers and print buyers to re-think the possibilities of using mail as the New! and more powerful channel.

  3. Hugh Smit

    I believe this has less to do with the viability of print and direct mail and more about the obscene amount marketing dollars Google has to toss around.

  4. Heidi Tolliver-Nigro Post author

    @ Andrew. Likewise! I think marketing companies are doing a better job of communicating with people before they even open the envelope, recognizing exactly the issues you raise. I see it with QR codes on the outside of envelopes. When done well, it invites people handling the mail all along the chain to participate. Maybe it’s not being done extraordinarily well, but incrementally. I’ve noticed it in my mail at least.

    @ Michael. Certainly nobody in our industry! Maybe it’s all those email people.

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