Will there always be a place for physical media?

'This craving for shared experiences isn't going away'

Despite being an online publication we’re still publishers, and fly the flag for physical media. But, in this case, it’s not about what we think as a magazine, but what the industry thinks will happen. So we asked them.

Jean-Christophe Conti — Chief Executive Officer at VIOOH

Jean-Christophe Conti

In the digital ad realm where ad blockers run rampant, viewability remains a perennial challenge. In contrast, OOH advertising boasts an impressive 80% visibility rate, which underscores the medium’s efficacy in capturing audience attention and driving message recall. Buying digital OOH programmatically delivers campaigns in broadcast and brand-safe environments to diverse audiences on-the-go, displayed on high-quality inventory that is one hundred per cent viewable, ad-block and fraud-free. Utilising DCO, brands can optimise campaigns in real-time, tweak creatives, react to live events, and adjust placements to maximise impact. DOOH is one of the few mediums which is growing, fuelled by programmatic demand, indicating a strong future for physical media. 

Anna Cremin — Head of Research & Consumer Insight at Pearl & Dean

Anna Cremin

Absolutely yes! Physical media has a crucial role in any media plan because we, as humans (and as consumers) will always crave connection and seek out experiences. We know through analysis (as part of our Happiness Project) that people aren’t simply being entertained in the cinema, they are strengthening relationships and focussing on a shared experience that commands one hundred per cent attention. Over the course of a few hours, people are totally immersed in the storytelling. This craving for shared experiences isn’t going away, and brands can build on this demand by creating immersive experiences that truly resonate with audiences whilst being highly memorable. An example of this is Gü which offered independent cinema audiences samples of its luxurious Mixology desserts, tapping into the senses and creating an indulgent experience for cinema lovers. This, in turn, created a memorable moment for audiences and, in turn, a positive affinity with Gü through this unique interaction.

Luke Willbourn — Managing Director at Talon

Luke Willbourn

As an OOH media agency we recognise the enduring power of physical media in engaging audiences and creating memorable experiences in the real world. While digital channels continue to dominate the marketing landscape, physical media offers a unique opportunity to connect with consumers on a tangible level, evoking emotions and sparking conversations. From eye-catching billboards to interactive installations and highly personalised campaigns that harness innovative tech and data insight, OOH is a physical media channel that truly captures the attention of audiences. And investment in this (quite literally) show-stopping creative is something digital platforms cannot replicate. Especially in a year where over three quarters of the public plan on being outside more. OOH, has the power to leave a lasting impression, supercharging brand campaigns to the next level, making it a valuable channel for brands looking to stand out in a competitive field. And consumers are responding… ranking OOH and Digital-OOH both amongst the top five preferred ad platforms, according to Kantar. While digital channels remain interwoven with our lives, consumers are seeking more and more in-person.

Sonia Danner — Senior Marketer at Marketreach

Sonia Danner

There will always be a place for physical media in the media plan. Mail is a strong example of this — its tangibility is one of its key benefits. This makes it hard to ignore, and allows brands to quite literally get their message into their audience’s hands and trigger a response. In fact, from our research in collaboration with WARC, we found that mail drives commercial actions, influencing 16% consideration and 5% of consumers to buy something. Mail’s physicality makes it irresistible as 95% of it is engaged with. And it works seamlessly with online through things like automation, making it the perfect match with digital. The fact is, there are multiple touchpoints to reach audiences, so brands need to be open to embracing different media channels. For me it’s not about either or when it comes to media selection, it’s about integration — and physical channels such as mail can add a powerful dimension to the marketing mix.

Kathryn Bean — Head of Media at Wake The Bear

Kathryn Bean

In short, yes. Physical media not only had a place in the media landscape but offers something many other media channels cannot. Media in physical environments has the ability to tap into people’s moods and moments unlike other media. In media planning, we talk about ‘media moments’ and how best to resonate with audiences, but often media advertising is passive and not aligned to what audiences are doing and feeling. Take going to a football game or music concert, physical media aligned to those moments and with the right creative messaging has the ability to cut through in a way a passive media cannot, and tap into that particular moment. Physical media also helps build local infrastructure and support local communities: OOH advertising, for example, supports local council funding and generate additional revenue that goes back into the community. Recently we’ve seen how OOH advertising can be used to support much needed electric car charging stations in hard to reach high-st destinations, helping councils to fulfil the growing demand. As digital continues to increase, and traditional media turns increasingly digital, physical media plays a different but fundamental role in the media landscape.

Jonathan Izzard — Strategy Director at Wonder

Jonathan Izzard

As a child of the ’80s I’ve experienced some huge shifts in both the format of physical media and my relationship with it: from coveting cassettes, vinyls and VHS to eventually filling the walls of my first flat with Billy bookcases of CDs, MDs (minidiscs) and DVDs. Part media library, part prized collection, part status symbol. With the advent of purely digital media, for millennials, Gen Z and beyond, ‘physical media’ feels a decidedly non-essential content curio — lifestyle over lifeblood. Sure, every charity shop worth its salt offers a healthy selection of cut-price DVDs for the thrifty collector, but digital media itself makes it simple for the savvy to watch what you want thanks to a Plex login and healthy disregard for anti-piracy laws. Yet even in their obsolescence, physical media formats hold stories to which the Cloud can’t compare — tactile and temperamental, full of character and quirks. There might not be a place in my home for physical media, but there’ll always be a place in my heart for it.

Georgia Hill — Midweight Creator/Art Director at Social Chain

Georgia Hill

There’s no denying the need for physical media has lessened. Environmentally speaking, obviously this is positive. But in my opinion complete eradication seems unlikely. In today’s over-stimulating, fast-paced society, we’re often left experiencing burnout. These tangible objects with one simple function offer an escape from the busy world of blue light. A Kindle holds a place in the market for these reasons. Across our feeds we can see Gen Z embracing the ‘slow life’, from morning routines to book corner setups, sharing how they’re bringing back simplicity, all under the name of wholesome, and physical media plays a lead role in this.

Some books are bought to be read, and some are bought to be placed thoughtfully on the edge of a coffee table, ready to make their way onto the gram in an artistic snapshot. It may seem that social media is a rival of physical media, but actually it preserves the past by being rooted in aesthetics and catalysing a love of nostalgia. From vinyl records to collectables: there’s a fascination for physical media, and it can serve more than just its original function, but a status of design flare, too.

Featured image: Brett Jordan / Unsplash