Time to ditch flyers?

In the media and advertising world in Germany the decisions of major supermarket chain Rewe and home improvement store chain Obi that it is time to ditch their flyers made headlines recently. Both are a staple in the post boxes or are distributed as inserts in newspapers or free magazines. Instead, both companies announced that they will be focussing on digital channels in the future.

Both companies cited as main arguments for ditching the flyer environmental concerns. This might be true, although none cared to make a calculation of the environmental impact of replacing print with digital media – nor mentioning that they considered making their print products more environmentally friendly.

The true reasons are likely cutting costs (possibly tied in with the high paper prices) and the belief that customers are better served by digital. It might as well be the perennial urge in retail/marketing to jump on the latest bandwagon.

The catch might be whether customers will follow. The Austrian Post made an interesting end user survey in 2019 on, among other factors, which advertising channels are consulted before making a purchase and which advertising channels are the most amiable (in lack of a better translation of the German word “sympatisch”). Displayed are selected results for the category of groceries.

Effectiveness of advertising
Purchase drive and Likeability of advertising

Flyers, or small catalogues, tick both boxes in being consulted most often and being the most amiable/likable/pleasant – by a wide margin. Digital channels rank much lower, especially on the likeability scale. This is certainly down to the more mundane nature of groceries as most people do not consult the web before buying a pack a bottle of milk. Both companies are not selling high-tech products, rather products of daily living. Flyers are still the easiest and best inspiration in this category, even for younger buyers.  It might be a premature time to ditch flyers.

All The News That’s Fit To Change

In a world that is moving to electronic media, one of the biggest strongholds of printed news is its credibility. Even in a media wary environment this is being confirmed again and again. Should a newspaper not rather bank on that trust than undermine it? If the online edition of a renowned newspaper changes their headlines to get more views, is this already clickbaiting? 

In their study “All the Headlines that Are Fit to Change: Analysis of Headline Changes in the Media Industry” researchers at Wake Forest University found that The New York Times regularly changes the headlines of their online articles. During the period observed in 2021 about 14% of all headlines were changed relatively immediately after they were published. Another 6% were subject to A/B testing, in which different readers were shown differing headlines.

Of course, publishers should amend or alter their online articles for more recent news or corrections, however this is about accurate content. Changing headlines simply with the aim of getting more clicks is different. We all know clickbait – the attention grabbing snippets and headlines appearing alongside of websites, with the sole aim to get the reader to click

The authors of the study conclude: “Our initial results are suggestive that economic, rather than partisan, motives are the driving force behind the New York Times headline change strategy. This is an important contribution to our understanding of media industries, since almost all other papers exclusively look at one or the other motive.” The findings conclude that gaining more readers and revenue would be a positive step. Authors caution however that not alerting readers of headline changes can create “memory holes”. Also, headlines should reflect news as it is written at the moment they occur and not appease to what is getting most clicks.

If an online newspaper gets used to headline changes, I fear the next step might be to produce content that is purely designed to appeases to the readers, in which clicks count more than an unbiased, truthful view. Of course web-sites of this kind exist, however the online presence of a venerable newspaper should not be one of them.

 

Print Magazine launches doubling – chart of the week

The pandemic did show us many processes moving digital. Communication is no exception. There is a huge push to move books to digital, although there are grave disadvantages. Magazine has been a bit under the radar and the declines in circulation in many countries are known. The better to see that launches of print magazines rebounded after the pandemic slump in 2020. According to Mr Magazine, Samir Husni, U.S. print Magazine launches were doubling in 2021 compared to 2020.

US print magazine launches 2019 - 2021

How cryptocurrencies and NFTs ruin our climate

The last time (a few years ago) I heard about the energy consumption of Bitcoin mining it was tipped to use an energy equivalent in the range of Ireland to Austria. That was bad enough but I did not expect how cryptocurrencies and NFTs ruin our climate today. Now I stumbled across the latest statistics that the energy of the two biggest cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum, have an energy consumption ranging between Italy and the UK!

         Energy Consumption by Country including Bitcoin & Ethereum

In other words, a single Bitcoin transaction uses up as much energy an average US household would over 73,82 days! Or it would equate to 1,451,245 VISA transactions!

Popular in the pandemic – Google searches analysed

What analysts and marketers like about the internet is that everything is measurable – as pointless as it may be in many cases. Yet there is a bunch of internet stats that are helpful or at least entertaining. The latter is in my view a website that analysed Google searches and looked at how popular product search terms were in the pandemic.

For the printing industry most categories are of limited interest as mostly consumer goods made it to the searched item roster. Keywords and categories were sourced from Google product taxonomy. Results are restricted to searches on Google Shopping in the US only. The analysis ranked products and their search terms into three groups.