Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting



Wishful Thinking…

The Christmas Holidays have evolved from traditions that date back many centuries.  While some of these traditions have roots in Christianity, others have been adopted from various European mid-winter celebrations.  The giving and receiving of gifts is one tradition that has grown over time to pretty much overwhelm all others.   Perhaps this has happened because children are such an important part of any family’s celebration and for them opening presents represents an important part of their lives.   

So here we are in the midst of the annual gift-buying frenzy. 

To make sure that we don’t miss even one potentially interesting purchase, each day our mailbox holds at least five of six catalogs offering all sorts of gifting possibilities.  Many of these gift ideas are ones we would not have envisioned on our own.  And that is, of course, exactly the reason why these catalogs are so useful to the merchants sending them.  There are, for example, catalogs devoted entirely to gifts for our pets – do they really wait for the arrival of Santa Claus?   (I’m quite sure that I can predict how our puppy/guard-dog would react to Santa coming down our chimney).  There are catalogs for kitchen gadgets.   There are catalogs for various styles of clothing.   And the list goes on. 

Given the cost of printing and mailing, why don’t the merchants just use the Internet?  Wouldn’t this be a far more cost-effective way to promote their products?  Aren't we all doing our shopping and product searches electronically these days?   Hasn’t the rest of the world caught up with what we have witnessed in the technology sector where virtually all trade publications are no longer available in print?  These magazines are now delivered only to our electronic mailboxes rather than the ones out by the street.  Don’t these merchants realize that they could save a bundle of money by doing it all “on-line”?

Or is it possible that they know something that we in the technology world have yet to figure out?  

When I read a trade magazine in print, I tend to do it when I have some time to spare – such as in an airport or on an airplane.  Or maybe I take it along when I have an appointment where I will have to wait.  Or I may sit in front of the TV and peruse the publication while commercials are on.  This gives me time to browse not only the articles but also the advertisements.  Quite often I will spot something that I didn’t know existed but that could be helpful in my work.  It may be a new company, a new instrument, or a new part that I would not have known how to search for.   This produces the exact benefit that the seller desired – exposing their products to a new customer.  

However, does this form of advertising work on-line?  Well, not for me.  When I receive a trade publication on-line, I focus only on the titles of the articles.  Push-advertising that interferes with my attempt to get at the content only irritates me and has never caused me to respond to the ad.  Neither have any of the ads surrounding the articles.  They get ignored as well.  So why the difference in my response (and I suspect of many others) to on-line vs. print advertising?   I believe that it’s the fundamentally different way that we read something on-screen versus how we read a printed publication.  When we receive a publication on-line, it’s always in a bundle with other e-mails that require a response.  That creates time pressure to get the responses done before moving on to other activities.  There is no time to pause and look at ads or other distractions.  A quick scan of the article titles is all that we can typically manage – and perhaps reading one or two articles that seem especially important.  It’s simply the wrong time and environment for paying attention to ads.     

Will companies in the technology sector come around to what other merchants have now learned?  It’s hard to say.  The prevailing opinion may continue to be that we can do it all on-line with search engines.  That can work well for those products and capabilities with which we are already familiar.   But what about those products or new innovations that we have not yet discovered?   How are we to find those unexpected gems that may pop out at us while browsing through a print publication? 

It may be that we have reached the bottom of this rush to save money by trying to do it all on-line.  We are beginning to see some of our colleagues in the technology sector begin to move back to having at least some of their promotional material in print media.   Perhaps the example of consumer-oriented merchants emphasizing print advertising will begin to spread back into trade publications.  It would serve our industry well to have that happen.  When visiting companies, I was always pleased to see Information Display magazine on a table in the lobby.  It was a demonstration of the company’s interest and desire to participate in the International display community.  That is something worth keeping. 

Should you have some thoughts that you would like to offer regarding this topic or others, please contact me directly from this site, by e-mail at, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.       




19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117

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