Print vs Digital Advertising – the Pros and the Cons

Advertisers are spoilt for choice when it comes to where to spend their dollars, but deciding between print and digital can be confusing. We break it down.

The happy conundrum with advertising today is that advertisers are spoilt for choice. Mass media no longer has it all to itself, with advertisers looking at alternate avenues to let their customers know they’re out there and that they’ve got something to tell or sell. And the internet is proving to be a big part of this revolution.

That said, there’s only so much you can do if you have a limited budget. Getting the most bang for your buck can involve a great deal of research and forethought. If your budget is a large one and you’ve got the task of letting all and sundry know about a new product or service, or you need to tell a new brand story, mass media is an obvious option. But that doesn’t mean you can’t throw other media into the mix and give your customers other opportunities to engage with your business.

But what if you don’t have a big budget, and your task is nowhere near monumental? This is where digital advertising becomes an attractive option. As well as display ads on popular web pages, there is social media and search engine advertising through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google.

What’s more, traditional print publications are producing online versions which offer yet another avenue for advertisers to connect with their audience.

But print is dead, isn’t it? That seems to be the general catchcry among marketers, but don’t discount print just yet. Especially magazines – they’re just as popular today as they were before the digital revolution; in fact, more so.

There are magazines about subjects that simply didn’t exist 20 or even 10 years ago. One reason is that we’re constantly embracing new fads, creating niche cultures and developing new and exciting technologies, and in an effort to be a part of these trends, hosts of indie publications have appeared.

So if digital is the latest way to reach new and existing customers, and print ads in magazines are still a viable option, which is better?

Let’s take a brief look at digital and print advertising. Both have their merits, but by looking at the comparison, it might help you to make a decision about your advertising spend.


  • Choice of sizes and options. You’ve got lots to choose from, depending on how much you want to spend, including full page, half page (horizontal and vertical), quarter page (horizontal and vertical), third page, eighth page and double-page spreads.
  • Better reach to specific audiences. By targeting magazines that focus on your industry, you’re effectively advertising to a captive audience that’s already receptive to content-related advertising messages.
  • Readers don’t discard magazines in a hurry, meaning your ad hangs around much longer. More so if the reader then passes the magazine to family, friends, and colleagues. And, of course, it can also find new life in cafés and waiting rooms — the latter for many years.
  • Ideal brand platform. What magazines do very well is provide a quality environment for brand awareness. Glossy paper, high-quality print and the impact of full colour on a full page or double-page spread means customers are seeing a brand represented at its professional best.


  • Cost is relatively cheap compared to print. This is mainly due to limited size options and inexpensive production processes.
  • Your customers can see and buy from you with the click of a mouse and in the comfort of their loungerooms, bedrooms or even their toilet!
  • Easy to test. Finding that you’re not getting the responses you thought? Changing your ad is quick and simple and allows you to find exactly the right message to draw in the crowds.
  • Geo-targetable. Geo what? This catchy phrase means that those clever clogs who know what they’re doing with digital advertising can target customers based on location and whether they belong to a niche audience. It also allows local businesses to advertise on big national sites.
  • Constant exposure. If you’re online surfing the net, digital ads are always there and ready to be clicked 24/7.

So, which is better?

That’s for you to figure out and it will largely come down to what you want your ad to do.

In a nutshell, though:

  • Print advertising may be the way to go if you’re wanting to build your brand and establish credibility in the minds of your new and existing customers.
  • Digital advertising is great for immediate results, especially if you’re running a promotion or an offer. All your customers need do is click on a link and they’re at your site, ready to purchase.

But the best option could be a mix of the two.