How Traditional Advertising Fares in Today’s Growingly Digital World
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Is Traditional Advertising a Thing of the Past?

is traditional advertising a thing of the past?

Traditional advertising has been the cornerstone of all marketing for decades now. But today’s growingly digital landscape brought significant changes in the marketing world. With the appearance of search engines and social media platforms, consumer habits began shifting toward the digital realm. Nowadays, there are over 4.9 billion internet users globally, all of whom have become potential prospects for digital advertisers.

But what do these overwhelming numbers mean for traditional advertisers? Can traditional advertising still pay off? Is traditional advertising still effective? These are just some of the questions we’re going to answer in this article. But first, we should begin by identifying precisely what traditional advertising is.

What Is Traditional Advertising?

Traditional advertising is a term that refers to mass media used to distribute commercial messages to broad audiences. In other words, it is an interruptive form of marketing that lets businesses push their products or services in front of large audiences regardless of whether they’re interested in them or not. 

The best way to illustrate that is through a few traditional media advertising examples. Here are the most common forms of traditional advertising:

  • Business Cards
  • TV and Radio Ads
  • Cold Calling
  • Print Advertising (Flyers, Posters, Newspaper Ads, etc.)
  • Billboards
  • Direct Mail Advertising

As you can see, most, if not all of these methods are all around us and are quite hard to miss. But how effective are they nowadays when platforms like Google and various social media networks offer so many benefits to advertisers over these traditional techniques? How do the two compare? Let’s find out!

Traditional Advertising vs. Modern Advertising

Although traditional advertising has had a long and successful track record, its digital counterpart has proven superior in many regards. Digital advertising has become an unprecedented king over the last few decades. That has led to more businesses than ever investing in advertising over the internet. Here’s an example of just how much digital ad spend has increased over the last 20 years in the U.S. compared to ad spend on traditional advertising mediums.

a graph illustrating ad spend in the us by medium between 2000 and 2020

Television ad spend is still decently competitive, but as you can see from the above graph, the investment in all other forms of traditional advertising has plummeted. This overwhelming dominance of the digital advertising industry could likely be attributed to its various advantages. Here are some of the most notable ones:

Lower Advertising Expenses 

The digital realm is excellent advertising space, even for those with a small marketing budget, as it’s significantly cheaper. For instance, social media CPM is often as cheap as $3, while the equivalent for radio could go as high as $10 and $28 for TV.

Higher Reach 

Digital advertising knows no bounds, and everyone on the internet is a potential customer. All traditional forms of advertising pale in comparison to online advertising’s possible reach.

In-Depth Tracking & Measuring 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a digital advertising platform or service that doesn’t offer a variety of tools to help you track your advertising campaign’s performance. From demographical to device tracking, the abundance of data that digital marketing gives advertisers a unique opportunity to take a more data-driven approach to marketing.

Better Targeting Opportunities 

One of the primary reasons online advertising was so innovative was because of customer targeting. While advertisers had to cast a wide net just a few years ago and hope they’d reach the right people, they don’t have to do that anymore. Digital advertising allows marketers to reach their target audience with minimal investment.

Higher Engagement & Interactivity

Unlike traditional advertising, digital ads are significantly more engaging. The online world offers plenty of opportunities for brands looking to get their products to their consumers. From personalized ads to digital video advertising, the possibilities are almost limitless!

Is Traditional Advertising Dead?

Traditional advertising statistics show a decline of traditional advertising spend between 2012 and 2020 in the U.S., which might not indicate that traditional advertising is dead, but it does imply that it is facing some significant challenges. But what does that mean? Is traditional advertising still useful, or is it losing relevance and becoming an outdated marketing method? The answer is not so straightforward.

The times are changing, and fewer and fewer younger people watch TV, read newspapers, or pay attention to traditional ads. And to make things worse, consumer attention is rapidly shifting from traditional media to online media, making traditional advertising less effective by the day. But not everything is as bleak as it might seem.

Despite its being on the back burner for most businesses, traditional advertising still provides excellent results in specific situations. What we’re talking about is local advertising!

Small businesses can still do wonders with traditional advertising as it can help them build brand awareness incredibly quickly. Studies show that print advertising, in particular, trumps digital ads when it comes to increasing brand recall rate. So don’t completely write off traditional advertising just yet! Despite its decline in popularity and effectiveness, it can still be a potent tool for various business owners looking to achieve high penetration in local markets.

What Does the Future Hold for Traditional Mass Media Advertising?

Even at its peak, the traditional advertising industry has been earning the most revenue from TV. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people are watching television as the world is gradually shifting toward OTT in favor of traditional TV. Don’t believe us? Just look at how much TV consumption has declined among the younger generations between 2012 and 2016 alone. And let’s not even imagine how that data would look today!

graph illustrating the time spend watching tv by age group between 2012 and 2016

As intimidating as these numbers may seem, they don’t symbolize an end to the TV industry — they represent its evolution. But what do we mean by that? It’s simple — people might be tuning out of traditional television, but they’re still consuming it; they’re just doing it on different devices. That is what led to the rise of the OTT industry and an increase in cord-cutting throughout the world.

The many OTT streaming services out there represent the future of television as they provide better flexibility for consumers and publishers alike. Viewers can choose what and when to watch, while publishers get to monetize their content however they see fit.

But what does that mean for traditional advertisers? It means that they will also have to evolve with the industry. While most of the old advertising opportunities will disappear with the ongoing shift from traditional TV to OTT services, many new will take their place. 

Either way, it doesn’t seem like traditional advertisers will be able to escape the grasps of the digital world. The most proactive ones will make the most of both worlds and launch their businesses to stardom digitally while maintaining their brand presence locally through traditional means. Others will likely be left behind and forgotten in the growingly competitive market.

Evolve or Be Forgotten

Many traditional marketers will face a tough challenge in the years to come — how to adapt to the modern changes in the advertising market. Unfortunately, there is no single answer to that question and will depend on many factors, such as your industry’s market, target audience, consumer habits, and more.

Marketers will also have to learn how to balance their traditional advertising efforts with their online presence so as not to neglect to maintain brand presence in local markets. 

Finally, traditional advertisers who relied heavily on telemarketing will have to adjust to the growing trend of OTT streaming platforms by looking for advertising space on them. Luckily, AVOD (Advertising Video on Demand) monetization model is incredibly popular among publishers and advertisers alike, so there is a huge demand for it online. If you are still unfamiliar with it, we recommend checking out this article to learn more about AVOD and why it’s so popular.

We wish you the best of luck on your journey!