Don’t Give Up the Print!

By | March 30, 2012

Next time you’re having a conversation with a client about the value of continuing to use print in their media mix, you might want to throw in some data from Harris Interactive. Its Harris Poll, conducted of 2056 adults in February 6-13 2012, found that while smartphones could be used to replace many print-related activities, such as carrying airline tickets or using printed coupon, they aren’t.

Only 5% of Americans say that they have scanned their phone for admission to a movie or as an airline ticket, and fewer say they have done so to pay for clothing or electronics (3%), admission to a concert, live theater or performance (3%), to pay for a convenience item such as coffee (3%) or something else (7%). Two in five say they have never scanned their mobile or smart phone for any reason (40%) and slightly more say they do not have a mobile or smart phone with this capability (45%). Although Echo Boomers, aged 18-35, are most likely to have scanned their phone for all of the items listed, even they are not doing this at remarkable rates (between 5% and 10% for each item). [1]

Harris Interactive also asked these adults, not just what behaviors they were willing to engage in with their smartphones, but also their comfort levels with using their phones this way (whether they had actually done so or not). Levels of discomfort using phones for purchases, scanning tickets, and a variety of other activities remains quite high.

When the research firm looked at those who are comfortable with the various items, it noticed several trends:

  • There is comfort in youth – younger adults are more comfortable than those older with each item listed;
  • Men are more comfortable with each item than are women; and
  • Those who have scanned their smart phone for any one of a number of reasons are more comfortable with each capability than are those who have never scanned their phone, or do not have a phone with that technology.

The last one is particularly interesting for those pushing QR Codes and other 2d mobile barcodes, especially to boost the relevance and interest in print. If you can get them to scan the code just once, people are much more likely to continue to do it. That means really focusing on the incentive and call to action, especially the first time out.


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4 thoughts on “Don’t Give Up the Print!

  1. Chuck Gehman

    Just last week, I had a guy in front of me boarding a US AIRWAYS flight try to use his phone instead of a boarding pass. After trying to scan the phone 3 times, the gate agent gave up and asked him, “What’s your last name?”

    Having said that, though, I think it’s really dangerous to use this type of data in support of printing. While the current crop of technologies and applications are showing slow adoption, and frankly don’t work very well, this is going to change dramatically and quickly.

    Whether and how print complements mobile computing is a question that still remains to be answered.

    Whether we will continue to use our smartphones and tablets in new ways we didn’t imagine even a year ago is without question.

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker

    I don’t think I could be counted among those being called Luddites, and certainly I agree that such data should not be used to support printing in general. But at the same time, it’s certainly relevant TODAY — and that’s the point. While the ramp-up to much deeper integration with consumers’ lives will be quick, that’s not the case now. That’s the point — current conditions on the ground.

  3. John Forgit

    Hi Chuck,

    Your comment that “this is going to change dramatically and quickly.” may be the case however, “going to change” is the key here. There are companies that are abandoning print with the thought that print is irrelevant and these figures are proving out that this is not the case. Data is king, test, test, and back test in all media. Know your customers and mail smarter…

    We should move forward utilizing every new technology that comes forth remembering that print still drives web commerce and will for a long time.

  4. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Addressing John’s point, I just had an interview with Hearst, which is now using personalized onserts with QR Codes and personalized URLs as tracking mechanisms. They have done two campaigns — one with Popular Mechanics and one with Harper’s Bazaar — and are thrilled with the ability to make print interactive. Through this interactivity (and the volumes made possible with high-speed inkjet), they see a host of new opportunities that such tracking and data gathering through their magazines provides to advertisers. Traditional print is struggling, but the interactive elements being brought into the mix now are creating an entirely new environment for advertising. I’ll write more about this in my Digital Nirvana post on Friday May 18.

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