Combining the Strengths of Print and Mobile
Factors to consider when creating hybrid moments
We’ve long passed the point of no return in our preference of digital over print. 90% of America is on the internet, with 2019 marking the first time mobile devices outranked watching TV as the primary way the U.S. consumes media.
Though mobile is the clear standard, print assets are far from useless. Aside from being helpful for reaching the 19% of Americans without smartphones, print material can be updated with mobile in mind.
Remember, successful print-to-mobile content doesn’t strive for conversion so much as it does for combination.
Consider the following:
Print and desktop materials are traditionally arranged in an “f-shape,” a layout that puts the most essential information in the path of the eye’s natural journey across the page.
On mobile, with its endless scrolling and filtering from app to app, there’s no “most important” area to optimize. A bite, snack, and meal approach is one way to find a reader’s sweet spot.
Complement a reader’s engagement level instead of their natural reading inclinations.
In 2020, the average person is estimated to encounter up to 10,000 ads daily, a doubling from 5,000 per day in 2007.
The easiest way to maximize the chances of engagement through this mess is by highlighting social media and QR codes in print materials.
By making print and mobile interact, your material can generate both deep stimulation and immediate satisfaction.
We currently have so much competing for our attention that we rank just below goldfish in terms of how well we can focus.
Mobile devices supplement the internet, easy self-printing, computers, materials printed worldwide, and word of mouth—all channels that have seen individual expansion over the course of time. Somehow, virality has always existed.
Print may need to evolve to fit in a mobile world, but time hasn’t changed the basics of being effectively seen on a large scale: Be broad but specific, be interesting but ordinary, and be lucky and good.
Print ads have an advantage when it comes to longevity: Hand out a brochure or pay for an ad in a magazine a single time, and those pieces could live in an office or on a coffee table for quite a while.
That may seem like nothing compared to content potentially living online for everyone to see forever, but when we consider that 90% of the data on the internet has been created since 2016, a more pointed and private bit of attention might be better in the long run.
Extend the life of your mobile content by tapping into evergreen curiosities—a solution, a story, or a set of instructions—just like print does.
The deep-reading part of the brain is “use it or lose it,” and mobile is helping lose it more than use it. Even though mobile users are more likely to read entire articles, at least over desktop users, nothing stimulates the brain quite like print material.
It also doesn’t help that people are usually multitasking when they read on mobile. Even if mobile users tend to read entire articles (unlike desktop users) when they actually click on them and accomplish their main task, what do they really retain if they’re multitasking?
Regardless of medium, keep in mind that the most interesting thing for anyone is their own desire.
During the nearly three hours a day the average adult spends on their smartphone, scrolling more than the length of an extinct megalodon shark,
there’s an unimaginable amount of content being filtered in and out of the brain.
Mobile simply can’t recreate the tactile qualities and relaxed pace of print, so don’t try.
With the overload of mobile content, simplicity and style are more important than ever in slowing a reader down to a point of retention.
The bottom line is this:
Mobile will never be print and vice versa. As the way we take in information evolves over time, we need to remember that even though the best stuff may not always get through, and the stuff that gets through may not always be the best, it’s not just luck that sets content apart. Look to the constants and lean in.