We’ve been told for nearly a decade now that this is the digital age – a golden time of instant information.
Smartphones, tablets and desktops are everywhere and the role of traditional media and content sharing has rapidly changed in the age of the internet-driven 24-hour news and social media sharing.
A global trend, South Africa is on track and seeing rapid changes in how readers consume information.
The days of mass-market print publications are declining and we are looking at a new era from print to digital and beyond.
According to We Are Social’s Digital in 2017 report, an average South African spends a significantly longer portion of their day engaging with digital than with any other medium.
Effective Measure’s November 2016 statistics, based on 331,042 online surveys completed by local internet users, reveal the same trend when comparing digital to print or even radio and TV.
Nearly everyone is online. For the consumer, we can take news anywhere with us in the world and are connected to and by technology throughout the day. Digital media also allows companies to reach the right audience at their convenience and create lasting experiences with customers. Having a finger on the digital versus print pulse allows a company to transform itself in step with consumers’ changing habits.
“There’s no doubt that it’s time to fully embrace the digital age” says the CEO of AutoTrader South Africa, George Mienie. “We launched our magazine in 1992 and our website in 1998, and it was in 2008 that we realised our magazine had a shelf-life. The internet was developing so fast, and the possibilities of what could be done online were so vast.” AutoTrader, the number one motoring marketplace in South Africa, is one of the businesses who have made the transition from print to digital successfully. This week they announced they had printed the final issue of their magazine & are fully digital.
To put the power of the internet into perspective, compared to the 1,4 million magazines AutoTrader sold in 2006, in 2016 the website had over 50 million visits, and the company sent over 3 million leads connecting serious car buyers and sellers. One magazine could host 8 – 10,000 cars in total. Today 68,000 cars are listed at any one time on the website.
The move from print to digital should never be taken lightly and should be right for your company. The journey from analog and print to digital can be hazardous, regardless of what industry, technology, product, or service your company is in. Just ask industry giants like Kodak or Financial Times who also struggled for years in transforming. AutoTrader’s full digital move was a result of 10 years of research and monitoring of changing consumer preference.
“We put it in our car buying customers hands … by creating two unique sets of telephone response numbers, one printed in the magazine and the other on the website. We then knew whether our users were responding via the magazine or the website, and through tracking it month-by-month we could see how quickly their preference was changing,” says Mienie. Tracking changes in customer behaviour is key for online success. As the only niche vertical that is transparent with the sellers contact details they have seen that consumers want to be more and more anonymous with more than 50% of car buyers taking the address of their site and going directly to a dealership without calling or mailing first.
Online has also enabled the company to empower buyers and sellers to a remarkable degree, and in a way the magazine never could. Through financing, insurance, history checks, buyer and seller validation, geographic location services, and a dedicated content hub that houses motoring news, reviews & videos.
For this company it was a clear way forward to say #ByeByePrint and move forward as fully digital, to aid them in reaching their company goal – for a user to be able to conduct an entire sale, online, perfectly.