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Is traditional advertising making a comeback?

This is an article ‘Is traditional advertising making a comeback?’ by Marc Primo


For over ten years, the most seasoned marketers have closely monitored the evolution of digital marketing and its subsequent innovations. Ecosystems experienced steady growth along with the companies that have invested a slice of their budgets in order to know their online customers and target markets better. As more internet users grow attached to online content and digital ads, many wonder if traditional advertising can still get the job done when it comes to raising brand awareness, influencing consumers, and driving conversions.



With better traction and engagement being realized by marketers in the digital space, budgets for conventional ad placements such as television, radio, and print have taken a nosedive over the years. Despite this, traditional marketing is still as valuable as ever in today's internet era. In fact, more advertisers are considering returning to such media channels of old to reach more consumers. Regardless of the statistics, traditional advertising investments have declined over the last decade in lieu of digital marketing. One CMO survey reported that the decrease in budgets held an annual average of -1.4% year on year as opposed to an increase of 7.8% for overall budgets, which mainly comprise online marketing strategies.


So, should modern marketers really turn their backs on traditional advertising? Here's why they shouldn't.


Consumers are starting to hate clutter


Soon, consumers might see a re-shift towards more traditional advertising practices, bolstered by a 1.4% increase in budgets for more conventional strategies. Traditional advertising spend is steadily increasing post-pandemic thanks to consumer-facing companies and business-to-consumer (B2C) brands. Add to these a number of businesses that gain 100% of their profits via online sales channels looking to push their brands via a more physical approach that aligns with their digital marketing strategies. Such companies are looking to increase their traditional ads spend by 11.7%, on average, in the coming year.


One of the underlying reasons why traditional advertising is making a comeback in today's more digitally prevalent world of marketing is because many online users are looking to declutter their digital footprints. Most of every consumer's daily hours are usually spent online via their laptops or mobile phones, and many worry that they might grow numb to what's happening around them. Aside from some experiences of negative brand association, no thanks to spam, pop-up ads, and other known digital clutter, people are looking to give conventional content another chance to earn their engagement.


According to HubSpot, 57% of online users get annoyed by unsolicited ads that are suddenly on display before playing a video they want to see. Almost half of this number reported skipping the ad and not watching the video altogether. As younger consumers are growing impatient with unsolicited digital ads, marketers are seeing a new potential for traditional advertising as a means to declutter online content and cut through all the unwanted noise.


People still love traditional ads


Per a report from the marketing research institute MarketingSherpa, traditional advertising is enjoying a steady increase in engagement this year. A good half of today's consumer population still watches television and doesn't mind how ads get in between their favorite programs. People still appreciate print ads sent via snail mail and email, and there's still an active listening public for radio. The fact is that even if traditional advertising on television, radio, and print may prove to be more costly than digital means, brands enjoy broader reach, attention, and engagement from consumers.


Of course, targeting is out of the question, and aligning digital strategies is still a must, but so is traditional advertising. The trick for companies who want to set both their conventional and digital game plays side-by-side is to balance budgets and focus on reducing digital clutter. Besides, people still love traditional marketing, as proven by the same MarektingSherpa report, which says that traditional advertising formats are still the most trusted channels for consumers.


For brands looking to explore a return to conventional media channels investing in print advertising would be the most viable, followed closely by television placements. However, direct mail advertising and radio spots can also do well to establish brand credibility and consumer trust for smaller budgets.


When the cookie crumbles


From a digital perspective, the looming possibility that third-party cookies may soon become obsolete also contributes to the sudden popularity of traditional advertising. Such disruptions do not mean that digital marketing is on the decline. However, considering strategies on reach, engagement, and inbound marketing tactics, television, print, radio, and direct mail ads can be an excellent alternative to strike a more intimate level of engagement with existing customers.


Third-party cookies mine a lot of valuable data from consumers, and without it, brands must find other ways to know more about their audiences so they can improve their experiences. Though Google will be phasing out cookies on Chrome by the latter part of next year, along with Apple's already implemented iOS14 changes, it will do brands a lot of good to channel their resources on traditional marketing means at the moment. Resorting to segmentation methods via conventional models has become the most logical option in the absence of data-driven targeting and broadening reach.


Marketing as an art form


As most marketers learned from the COVID-19 disruption, marketing is both an art and a science that continues to evolve according to the times. Most brands can leverage their marketing strategies by resorting to traditional advertising for a better marketing fit and more effective messaging.


Still, there's no going around how content will always remain 'king' when it comes to telling a brand's story. Both digital and traditional channels can provide good platforms for that, although nothing beats a good old television or print ad that can strike a chord with any consumer. Traditional advertising can give a company its money's worth and drive higher brand recall by targeting indicators from time slots, newspaper sections, or radio listener demographics.


Brands might even consider taking a page out of the Super Bowl ads playbook on how to engage consumers on an emotional level with traditional ads.


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