Print is dead. At least EE Times in the USA will cease its print edition at the end of this year. I guess it was inevitable…

But hang on! What about UBM’s fabulous "Mind of the Engineer" study that was launched this week at electronica? Didn’t that have something to say about what are the most influential sources of information?

UBM’s excellent study had something interesting to say about print: it’s the most influential source of information that publishers produce. More important than a magazine website. More important than email newsletter. In fact when you look at seniority (the study categorised respondents into three categories based upon the time they had worked in the industry), it’s only the most junior group that doesn’t say print is more effective than publication website or emails. For the most senior group print was way more important. And this was a worldwide study!

No wonder UBM chose not to mention the fact that their most famous electronics magazine was being killed. No wonder they avoided the question I asked about the very high ranking of print in the survey!

So what on earth is happening? It’s not all down to UBM: they’re a business and are going to focus on the media that makes money rather than the media readers like to consume. As their titles are funded by advertising, however, sensible advertisers will use the most effective media, so UBM should find the media that readers prefer generates the most revenue.

But in our world it doesn’t. It’s not even a simple issue of the cost of printing and distribution. Advertisers are not placing adverts in the most effective media.

How can this happen? We’re all smart marketers, aren’t we?

It’s basically all down to the accountability of online. Marketers can measure results from online ads easily, and so print has been dropped like a hot potato. Now before anyone accuses me of being a luddite, I absolutely believe in online advertising – and push many of our clients to move more budget to digital – but I don’t think it makes sense to exclude print completely. And don’t get me started on the use of poor metrics for online ads (CTR and clicks do not correlate directly to your company’s bottom line).

Perhaps we’re all like the drunk who is searching for his keys under a street light, even though he dropped them elsewhere (this is called the streetlight effect). Illuminating statistics from online advertising doesn’t mean that the people you really want to reach are actually there! As marketers, we’re have to stop taking the easy route provided by online advertising data and start building better campaigns that are driven by real business objectives. The business objectives will often drive us to online campaigns, but this approach will mean you’re measuring opportunity generation and engagement from those campaigns than just capturing CTR and clicks.