Traditional Media is Making a Comeback

Traditional Media is Making a Comeback

The demise of traditional media was greatly exaggerated. It is undeniable that in the last decade, digital marketing has largely dominated the advertisement industry with the rise of social media, search engine advertising, and the digitization of information. Traditional media marketing, which includes channels like print advertising, newspaper ads, radio and tv commercials, and events, has seen consistent erosion of market share. These methods had been around since the conception of advertising but seemed to wither in the new digital age.

Traditional Marketing Spend Increasing

Even though overall marketing budgets increased annually by 7.8% between February 2012 and 2022, there was a 1.4% annual decrease in traditional advertising during this period. However, recent evidence suggests that a shift is underway. Reversing historical trend, marketers predicted that in February 2022, traditional advertising spending would increase by 2.9%.1

This dramatic shift is being driven by the B2C sector. The B2C service companies are expected an increase in traditional advertising spending by 10.2%, and B2C product companies by 4.9%.1 Unexpectedly, companies that depend entirely on the internet for their sales are leading the charge by forecasting an increase in traditional advertising by 11.7% next year.1

There are several reasons for the decline in digital media:

  1. There has been a backlash due to saturation of online advertising. According to one survey, the majority (57%) of people disliked online video ads before content loads, like in YouTube, and 43% didn’t even watch them.2 The constant bombardment of ads, as one surfs the internet, has led to negative consumer attitudes towards omnipresent brands.
  2. 91% of respondents agree that online ads are more intrusive today compared to two to three years ago, and 87% agree their number continues to increase. 79% also feel that they’re being tracked by retargeted ads.2
  3. 83% of respondents agree that not all online ads are bad, but they want to filter out the egregious ones. 77% agree that they would prefer to add an ad filter rather than an ad block to block ads completely.2
  4. There is a general unease about the credibility of digital marketing data since the hosting platforms control both the advertising inventory and the measurement of impact.

Hyper-targeting and personalization of online media is also being questioned. For example, recent academic research by Jing Li and colleagues published in the Journal of Marketing shows that e-commerce cart retargeting can backfire if done within an hour of cart abandonment. It leads to lower purchase rates than no re-targeting at all.3 And research in computer science has shown that personalization can lead to consumer reactance (after forced intrusion, motivation by a consumer to regain lost freedom), especially when consumers are not familiar with the brand.

Rise of Traditional Media

In a survey of 1,200 U.S. consumers regarding which advertising channels they trusted more to make a purchasing decision, the top five most trusted methods are printed material (82%), television (80%), direct mail (76%), radio (71%), and publicly displayed posters/billboards (69%).4 American consumers trust traditional advertising such as television, radio, and print more than social media advertising.

According to this survey, the bottom eight trusted channels were all digital, with only 25% Americans trusting online pop-ups and 37% trusting ads during podcasts. Search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.) ads led digital advertising genre by being trusted by 61% of consumers.4

There are several reasons for popularity of print media. It is less obtrusive and does not present privacy or safety concerns, like getting infected with viruses or being hacked. Unlike pop-up ads, which are annoying and generally have poor content, print ads are scarce and maintain a higher standard and can provide real value, like coupons, to customers.

For many years, marketers have utilized third-party cookies to track website visitors, pages visited, time spent on page etc. to fine-tune user experience and deploy targeted personalized ads. However, in 2023, Google is phasing out the third-party cookies on Chrome browsers and Apple is implementing similar changes to its iOS14 operating system. The CMO Survey found that 19.8% of companies invested more in traditional advertising as a result.5 Because of this imminent death of third-party cookies, marketers will be forced to rely on traditional segmentation methods.

Marketers are embracing traditional media despite some major disadvantages. It is considerably more expensive and takes longer to execute on print and broadcast media. It mostly lacks modern targeted marketing ability and cannot be matched to trending online content. Data analytics is more difficult and less accurate which makes fine-tune marketing strategy more challenging.6

Narrowing of the Targeting Gap

Nonetheless, traditional media is gradually eroding the targeting advantage of digital media. Direct mailers are being paired with QR codes that consumers can scan to get digital information through their cell phones. Unique URLs and QR codes also allow marketers to gather extremely granular data, permitting them to develop robust marketing analytics for ROI determination. TV solutions, such as Finecast, enable brands to connect with targeted audiences on the big screen watching their favorite TV shows. across on-demand and live-streamed TV. Addressable TV advertising technologies enable advertisers to selectively segment TV audiences and serve different ads or ad pods (groups of ads) within a common program.

What is needed is a more sophisticated approach to marketing. All channels, including pop-ups, have a rightful place but it needs to be done properly and unobtrusively. If a pop-up has a timely offer or displays useful content on a credible site and is delayed until visitors have had a chance to read what they came to the site to read, it may be perceived as valuable and build trust with the consumer.