When you want to be trusted, use Print

13 Jan,2021


By Prabhakar Mundkur


When you want to be trusted, use Print! And especially the morning newspaper, that scion of trusted news the world over.  For fun, to show-off, to party, to display your latest acquisitions, to share fake news and a host of other things use Facebook, WhatsApp, and other social media.


And as the world consumes more and more of social media, it seems that even the social media emperors like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook have to come down on their knees and apologise to their users in Print.


Over the last decade, we have been told all the advantages of digital media, how it has overtaken Print and TV in many parts of the developed world, and how it is a good accelerator for business. But there is little doubt that digital media has its own disadvantages.


To add to the complexity of our lives, digital media services have often been accused of spreading fake news around the world, and that is not too far from the real truth. Largely because digital media is seen as spreading misinformation, the relative trust of print has increased.


In a study, the US Postal Service worked with the Temple University Center for Neural Decision Making, did a neuromarketing study on the efficacy of the print medium. The study showed that participants processed digital ad content quicker but they spent more time with physical print ads. Physical ads though slower to get your attention leave a lasting impression on the reader. Physical newspaper ads triggered activity in the ventral striatum area of the brain.


Be that as it may, Mark Zuckerberg himself seems to be a firm believer in the power of print.


In spite of Zuckerberg’s relative success, he seems to face some flak from the public every few years for his misdoings. Typically, it has to do with the distrust, that people feel when you talk about his brands. Perhaps many of you would remember that in 2016 Zuckerberg was in a tight spot, when he was trying to bring Free Basics into our country. Again, at that time he decided to rely on Print to see him through.


His frequent appearances before the US Senate to provide testimony has not helped to remove the distrust surrounding him.


Consumer Trust has been a key differentiator for Print even in the Kantar study of 2020 for which the field work was done pre-Covid.  The report surveyed 8000 people in 8 markets, including the US, UK and China.When it came to news and information, social media was ranked as the least trusted medium.


The latest scandal on WhatsApp security issues combined with the fact that the world’s greatest influencers the world over like Elon Musk and others are recommending publicly that users move away from Whatsapp to Signal and other messaging apps has made Mr Zuckerberg distinctly uncomfortable.


This WhatsApp ad then bears testimony to the power of print. Thank you, Mr Zuckerberg, for helping us to get back to our most trusted institutions.




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