Do we favour digital?

As the focus for 2015 seems to be falling on the digital sector, we ask whether this extends to the publication arena and if we have really fallen out of love with the print publication…

“YES” says Tahaab Rais, Head of Insights & Strategy, FP7/DXB

TahaabRais“With digital, there are new experiments in storytelling, new genres arising from new authors who would have remained undiscovered in a print-only world”

Yes, I believe that many of us have moved on from Papyrus to Pixels.

Personally I love both and don’t like how even with the great romance that comes with the printed medium, most people today seem to have fallen out of love with them.

But the truth is that everything we do today revolves around devices. We communicate, work, play and now read with them; and other than the ubiquitous nature of digital media in our lives, there are many reasons people have said ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ to the good old print publication.

Digital is gifting us a new wave of content
The Internet has birthed content creators. With digital, there are new experiments in storytelling, new genres arising from new authors who would have remained undiscovered in a print-only world.

It sparks real time discussions
Digital enables us to openly debate and ideate the way we used to in coffee houses and taverns of the past. Yes, the private joys of the print medium will remain, but the new public pleasures of sharing are here to stay too.

Reader engagement is high
Give a man a print magazine, and he’ll read it once. Probably even lose it. But give a man an iPad app, and he’ll check it everyday.

Analysing and optimising is easy
The printed medium is a brilliant way of channeling information from the writer to the reader. But the digital medium can send information back as well. Using analytics we can optimize our product and decide what sort of content to create.

Flexible enough to serve ads
The only way to replace ads in print publications is to physically cut them out. But in digital publishing, you can serve multiple ads in one space, and share relevant engaging ads depending on the reader.

Finally, its all about timing
Stale information is as useful as an ice cream to an Eskimo. Digital helps us react and invent in real time, by capitalising on trends and news cycles.

It’s why many publications have migrated to digital and people are putting down magazines to pick up their smartphones. But this does not mean that print publishing is dead… it’s just not for everyone anymore. And if it has to be for everyone, it has to have more meaning than being a piece of paper.

The hero is still ‘content’. So the question probably isn’t, digital or print… but more like, what meaningful role is each medium playing in our lives?


“NO” says CaitlynDavey Davey, Features Writer, 7Days UAE

“At 26 years old, a quintessential Gen Y, for me – it is more than nostalgia – it’s practicality”

As a large portion of the media world shuts down print publications and consolidates departments, it seems the Middle Eastern region is going from strength to strength with new publications are popping up all over the UAE. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen Condé Nast Traveller and Stylist Arabia set up shop, Fact open in Abu Dhabi, Turret Media has launched Dubai Week and there seems to be no sign of slowing down, with a ream of international brands casting their gaze on the region.

When discussing the ‘we’ of this article, let’s say ‘we’ is the Middle East – this information would dictate that it’s a firm ‘no’ to falling out of love with print in favour of digital. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia and supportive advertisers keeping print alive – or the fact that many websites in the Western world can’t quite seem to make money off online advertising as effectively as they did in print. Is the ‘we’ the media? Because a staunch print-orientation of the media generally would dictate that the media is continuing its love affair with print. So perhaps the ‘we’ is global? But then, I would have to dispute lumping our region in with the rest given our thriving print economy, so let’s assume the ‘we’ is the Middle East.

Given the relative infancy of media in the Middle East, there is plenty of room to expand before we consider whether we’ve fallen out of love with print media. Yes, it’s more environmentally friendly and economical to opt for online media, but with low-costs for printing and labour – there’s something nostalgic about print media that retains a staunch presence in the Middle East. Added to that is the convenience of print and the high relative costs of mobile data. The tangible consumption of information, the grab and go appeal; in an impulsive, high-income, low expenditure demographic, why wouldn’t you pick up a publication?

Personally, I never caught on to e-readers and e-papers. While convenient, they lack something of an aesthetic value. At 26 years old, a quintessential Gen Y, for me – it is more than nostalgia – it’s practicality.

A paper copy never runs out of battery, it doesn’t hurt your eyes, it doesn’t have to be put into airplane mode and switched off during takeoff and landing (a huge draw for this populous) and the turning of a page gives me something of a satisfaction. Maybe there is a shift, but for the sentimental reader, it will be a long while.


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