Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing: Which Triumphs in Today’s Market?

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Digital media is captivating audiences, marketers, and most certainly, advertisers. But does this spell the end for traditional marketing?

Not so fast.

While viral videos may grab headlines, the cultural and commercial impact of TV commercials, radio, and print media hasn’t gone unnoticed.

traditional vs digital marketing
Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By pathdoc

It’s time to settle this debate once and for all. In this article, you’ll learn the true state of traditional marketing vs digital marketing in the 21st-century.

What the Heck is Traditional Marketing?

See those ‘For Sale’ signs in your neighborhood or that pile of business cards in your junk drawer? That’s traditional marketing.

Think of traditional marketing as marketing that you can physically touch or experience. That’s why traditional marketing materials are woven into the fabric of consumers’ lives. These include your newspaper ads, coupon clippings, bank brochures, car dealership banners, and even free samples at the grocery store.

But the burning question business owners want to know is – do these methods still work?

Let’s break down the numbers:

The Bad News

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. While Digital media hasn’t wiped traditional marketing off the face of the Earth, it certainly hasn’t been kind.

No more is this evident than in the recent slew of staff cuts by major publications. There have been serious cuts at The Detroit Free Press, Miami Herald, The Seattle Times, The New York Daily News, and the New York Times.

But it’s not just staff cuts. Poor sales and a decline in advertising forced San Francisco Bay Guardian to shut down in 2014. And most recently, the once-popular magazine, Interview, closed in May of this year.

To add insult to injury, a recent report from ABC revealed that the publishers for the Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times were forced to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

As expected, this string of bad news is causing a noticeable decline in ad spending for print media. Magazine ad spending has declined by 7% since 2015. And one of the nation’s largest advertisers, Pfizer, cut their print advertising spend by a staggering $85 million dollars.

But this doesn’t mean the traditional marketing vs digital marketing debate is over.

The Good News

Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite significant declines in print advertising spend, the magazine industry has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance with younger readers.

According to a recent report, readers between the ages of 18 and 29 prefer magazines to Facebook by 14%.

On the surface, this may seem like a stunning development in the digital era. However, young audiences have been gradually turning away from social media in droves, with 34% quitting social media altogether and 64% taking a break.

Moreover, the decline in advertising hasn’t stopped the industry from producing more than 760 new publications. This, coupled with the growing social media fatigue of Generation Z, presents a unique opportunity for advertisers to cash in on this trend.

And the good news doesn’t stop there.

Traditional marketing methods like outdoor advertising, which includes your banners and billboards, have seen a 1.2% increase in revenue.

And 92% of all Americans still listen to the radio, with experts forecasting an annual radio ad spend of $192 million by 2021. That’s why it’s vital to learn more about what radio commercials are doing for lead generation in the 21st-century.

Plus, declining TV ad spend is expected to see a serious boost during the 2020 presidential election and Summer Olympics.

Now that it’s settled that traditional marketing is, in fact, not dead, should the digital advertising world be worried?

The Pros and Cons of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing needs no introduction.

But as a refresher, digital marketing is any advertising you see on a digital platform. This would the ads you see on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It also includes email, influencer marketing, Google Adwords, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Not only did digital ad spend surpass $200 billion in 2017, but it’s also been able to fill to important voids left behind from the heyday of traditional marketing — affordability and accessibility.

The payment models for traditional marketing vehicles, like TV, billboards, and print publications, has historically priced many small businesses out. However, internet marketing gives smaller businesses a chance to compete by offering more affordable ‘pay-as-you-go’ models like pay-per-click (PPC).

Moreover, influencer marketing allows small businesses to leverage ‘celebrity appeal’ through sponsorships with YouTubers without the big Hollywood price tag.

With digital media on the upswing, is there a downside?

Unfortunately, as digital media grows, the more platforms have cracked down on ‘Fake News’ and ad targeting. Since the 2016 election, Facebook has faced increasing scrutiny which has, in turn, placed advertisers and their targeting strategies under scrutiny as well.

Despite the crackdown, Facebook still leads the pack among today’s social media marketing channels and still provides an affordable payment solution for businesses on a tight budget.

Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing: Who Wins?

Before declaring a winner in this never-ending marketing debate, it’s important to note that both methods are even stronger together.

Studies show that consumers crave a more immersive, integrative experience which can only be produced through a blend of both traditional and digital marketing strategies.

While digital may prevail in terms of accessibility, affordability, and visibility, don’t discount the value of good ole’ traditional marketing. But most importantly, don’t overlook the power of an integrative marketing campaign that translates across all marketing channels.

So instead of declaring a winner, let’s just say, “hug it out, bro!”

Moving Forward

Now that you understand the differences, challenges, and opportunities of traditional marketing vs digital marketing, it’s time to make this information work for you.

Take what you’ve learned from this article and start drafting a marketing strategy that works for your company’s mission, budget, and advertising goals.

You can never have enough resources in your marketing tool belt. Bookmark this article for reference and check back often for more tips on leveraging both traditional and digital marketing platforms.