Digital Marketing VS Traditional Advertising
“If You Build It They Will Come”.
It’s no secret, marketing works and has been proven effective for a very, very, very, long time. The core principles of advertising will always be vital and hold a place in communications and business in general. As time goes on new forms of marketing will rise up and prove more effective than the last. We have seen advertisements grow from posting fliers onto the wall to printing images in newspapers and publications that circulated worldwide. T.V. commercials transformed the industry when they finally were able to include images, motion, and sound into one medium as opposed to choosing between radio or print. And now were are seeing the next evolution of marketing; digital marketing. That doesn't mean that the traditional forms of marketing will no longer be effective. Not by any means. However, it does mean there is an exciting new frontier of marketing that is opening the floor to all businesses big or small.
The times they are a-changin’. Consumer’s attention is rapidly shifting away from billboards, newspapers, and even television screens. Their eyeballs are now fixed onto their smartphones and tablets. Scrolling through social media feeds and binge-watching their favorite shows. Technology has changed the way we consume media and thus how businesses market themselves to the masses. It’s not a secret. Over the last decade, marketing budgets have expanded to include digital marketing. It's hard to argue against the shift towards digital.
What Is Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing can very simply be defined as any type of marketing that IS NOT online. This includes billboards, T.V. commercials, radio ads, print ads (newspapers and magazines), direct mail, and phone calls. We all encounter some forms of traditional marketing every day, usually at a very high volume. We’ve just become desensitized to it because of the large number of advertisements we see daily. In fact, The University of Southern California published a report that on average we see roughly 5,000 advertisements a day.
We are flooded with traditional advertisements daily because they work. That being said, in light of how technology is evolving, there are some limitations of traditional marketing. Especially when compared to digital marketing.
Broad Targeting: Television, radio, and billboard companies can pull very specific and reliable information about their audiences based on estimates. Where they live, age demographics, even estimated income. And that information is usually spot on. Digital advertising platforms allow you to target by more specific interests or behaviors like what websites your target audience likes to visit, what T.V. shows they like to watch, if they just got engaged or married, their occupation, even if they have shown a tendency to shop online frequently or not. Those targeting options are also data-driven, not estimations. Data collected from millions of data points across countless websites, apps, and devices.
Price: A complaint from smaller businesses about traditional advertisements is that they can be a little pricey. Buying a spot on primetime television will cost you a pretty penny. Not to mention the production cost of creating your actual commercial. Billboards are similar. There is a production cost to physically making the canvas and a labor element to erecting it on the billboard itself. Even direct mail comes with the caveat of paying for stamps. While some of these additional costs can be very small and will vary the overall cost for most traditional ad spots can price out a lot of businesses who are unsure or don't have the budget.
Lack Of Insights: You can buy a spot on NBC’s primetime television programming for your commercial but you’ll never really know how many people actually paid attention to it and for how long. When you buy space on a billboard you pay a set price for a set number of locations over a set period of time. It’s impossible to know how many of your fliers went straight from your target audience’s mailbox to their garbage can. Your messages still get across to your target audience but there is also a portion who doesn’t receive the message at all. You can crunch the numbers after running any of these campaigns and see if your business is making more money but you can’t directly contribute sales to specific advertisements.
Not Engaging: The most engaging traditional form of marketing is sending direct mail. A consumer can actually feel your message in their hands which is great and very personable, but as we all know it will most likely end up in the trash. Other traditional mediums are simply limited by physics. You can't touch a T.V. commercial and learn more about a brand. Humans like to be engaged. It helps hold our attention when we can reach out and touch something and have it respond.
What Is Digital Marketing
Remember that time you were shopping for a new pair of shoes. You surfed the web for 20 minutes or so and even checked 3 different retailers. You ultimately decided that you won't buy them right now and closed your computer, or more than likely just put your phone down. Then, as if someone had been watching you, you see the same shoes on your Facebook news feed. This time in the form of an ad...from all three different retailers! You make a joke “wow that's creepy” and just scroll past it. That is no coincidence, that is the power of digital marketing.
Simply put, digital marketing is marketing on any digital medium. The internet, smartphones, social networks, email, and even search engines. In the last decade or so has taken on a form all its own. Technology has seemingly connected everyone. Social networks now claim billions of unique users (Facebook claims 2.5 Billion monthly active users). And thanks to cookies and information tracking, big data allows digital advertisers to target potential consumers in a more detailed way than ever possible with traditional marketing. Digital marketing makes it easier to show your message to the right person at the right time. And because of these amazing social networks and programs the process to buy media space and create an eye-catching as is also easier than it has ever been.
I know you’re no dummy, everyone knows what digital marketing is. But not everyone understands just how powerful it can be. Let's take a look at some of the benefits compared to traditional marketing:
Detailed Targeting: Just like the example above, a business can show super specific ads to consumers they KNOW are interested in a single product or brand. Thanks to the information you share with the internet (most likely Google or Facebook) businesses know who is engaging with their brand. Furthermore, with the same data that you already shared with the internet, advertisers can target you based on your personal interests, where you live, what websites you visit, and even what type of smartphone you use. You can even target those who have visited your website, spent the most time on your website, and even those who added a product to their cart but never checked out.
Cost Efficient: Saying digital marketing is “cheaper” than traditional marketing isn’t wrong but it's also not accurate. You can spend $1 million dollars on a T.V. campaign just as fast as you can spend $1 million dollars on a Facebook ad campaign. BUT you have so much more control when you’re marketing on a digital medium like Facebook. That's because there is no set price. If you want to spend $5 a day on Facebook or Google ads you can. If you want to spend $50,000 over the span of 2 weeks you can. If at ANY point you want to stop/increase spending you can. That simply isn't possible to have that much control over a T.V. commercial or billboard spot.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Most, if not all, digital advertising platforms offer a plethora of KPIs that allow you to track the performance of a single ad. These metrics will show you how many times your ad was shown (impressions), how many times people have clicked your ad and how much it’s costing you per click (CPC), and even how long people are watching your video ad for. All of this information will guide you into optimizing your ads if they are not performing well enough. It will also provide you with valuable information about your target audience and how they react to different ads. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if anyone actually watched your T.V. commercial or for how long even if it is a great ad.
Direct Response: When you run your ads on a digital medium they almost always lead to your website or a product page. This prompts a direct response from a potential consumer. They can purchase your product on the spot, order food for takeout, submit their contact information, or even claim an offer from your business. This allows you to directly contribute sales and events to specific advertisements and adjust accordingly in real-time. Only in a limited capacity can you generate a direct response from a traditional advertisement. Fliers, coupons, and special promotions can offer a somewhat direct response but even then, you can look at your results or data in real-time.
Engaging: Digital ads are also a great way to interact with your audience. All digital ads are clickable and lead to either a website or a landing page with more information and content. That type of engagement is limited in traditional marketing. Depending on the ad creation, Facebook ads are scrollable, expandable for video ads, and even offer a “swipe up” option on Instagram. It may seem like a small feature but it’s a major key to the success of any digital advertisement. At the simplest level of being a human being, we like to be entertained. We like to interact with things and our brains love to receive more information. Digital ads make that easier than ever.
For all of the reasons listed above and some others, digital marketing has helped marketers and businesses transform their marketing strategies. You no longer need a gigantic budget to reach a million people with your brand’s message. You don't have to go to a local T.V. station or a news organization to get your message out, you just need to open your computer. Technology is evolving every day and making marketing solutions more realistic and informative for businesses. Don’t turn your back on traditional forms of marketing but don’t let the future pass you up either.