Traditional vs Digital Media? Which Should I Use in My Business?

Media Is an Essential Tool for Marketing Your Business

The best type of media for you to use depends on a variety of factors, including your ideal-buyer personas, marketing budget, and the type of business you operate. While traditional media such as television, radio, and print ads in newspapers and magazines has long been the primary outlet for advertising campaigns, the rise of new digital forms of media such as email and social media have increased the choices available to companies looking to get the word out about their products and connect with customers in recent years.

Media of all types can help magnify your marketing message. In the vast majority of cases, businesses will need to use media of some sort to let a relevant audience know about their company and its products. The rare exceptions to this might include a brick and mortar business in an ideal location, a website receiving links or strong recommendations from other popular sites or a company catering exclusively to customers through word of mouth either due to a desire to project exclusivity, lack of a marketing budget or for other reasons.

With the advent of social media and digital marketing, a minimal marketing budget is no longer an insurmountable impediment when it comes to mounting a media outreach campaign. A social media or email marketing campaign can be mounted at little or no cost if you put in the time and effort to run it yourself and for most business whether large or small it constitutes a valuable tool to increase the scope of their customer outreach efforts.

What Type of Media Is Best for My Business?

There is a variety of media to choose from when planning your marketing campaigns. These include both traditional media such as television, print ads and radio along with newer media such as social media, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). These more recent additions to media marketing are most often labelled digital marketing or sometimes Internet marketing.

Below are some considerations to take into account when selecting the type or types of media to use in your marketing efforts.



Traditional Media

Television: The most expensive form of marketing, television ads have the power to reach broad or targeted audiences, depending on the reach of the channel or channels selected to run an ad. With the rise of YouTube and other video hosting platforms, television is no longer the only method for disseminating filmed advertisements; that being said, television continues to be a powerful method of targeting a wide audience that is more difficult to reach on the web due to its segmented nature. Television ads can be very effective when targeting a broad audience, either the population in general or a wide swath of a particular demographic. The increase in the number of specialised channels, such as those focused on sports, outdoors activities, cooking, genre films, etc., in recent years has begun to fragment the market, allowing marketers to more accurately target niche markets with their ads. Firms with modest marketing budgets are typically better off looking for advertising opportunities on channels with a smaller, more targeted reach which aren’t as expensive as channels with greater viewership.

Radio: As with television, radio is typically more expensive than most new-media advertising, although usually less expensive than television. It is another prime candidate for broadly targeted ads to reach the population in general or a particular demographic (for instance, sports shows for male listeners, current events programs for politically active listeners, etc.), whether defined by geography or other characteristics.

Print Ads (newspapers and magazines): Advertising in newspapers and magazines is another method of reaching broad sections of the population. While traditional printed versions of this type of media are less popular since the rise of the Internet, they can still be used with success in marketing campaigns. Many magazines and newspapers now publish online editions along with printed ones, and offer advertising packages featuring both print and online ads. Online ads have been seen as more likely to reach a younger audience, with print ads more likely to be seen by relatively older readers, less likely to consume content on the web. But the demographics for web consumption had broadened enormously. Despite the dominance of new media print advertising is still ‘powerful and necessary’ according to

Billboard Ads: Billboard ads provide blanket access to consumers in a specific geographical area. They work best for companies whose products have broad appeal, as they can’t be precisely targeted at specific demographic groups in the location where they appear in the same way that digital ads can.


New Media (Digital or Internet Marketing)

It pays to approach digital marketing holistically, for example tapping into search and social media together has been shown to increase return and boost campaign performance. In the past, SEM was understood to reach a mostly young demographic, but given the increasingly widespread use of the internet among all age groups today, this is less of a restriction. So-called ‘silver surfers’ are engaged with new media and represent a worthwhile market.

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Search Marketing: This umbrella term covered Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tactics, where search engines are targeted organically to increase your website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERP), or via advertising using paid search engine marketing (SEM). This may be banner, floating, or video ads which appear on selected websites – generally those associated with the industry a company operates in. The advantage SEM offers is its ability to target a specified consumer segment or group in a more precise manner than traditional advertising methods. This can allow for more effective advertising campaigns which also deliver a better return on investment.
  • Website (Search Engine Optimisation): Using your website as a form of marketing media is a powerful method for getting the word out about your company and its products. SEO strategies are used to help improve your website’s ranking on search engine results pages in order to attract more visitors to your site. SEO can involve a variety of techniques including the use of key words, links, Metadata and HTML optimisation and making your website attractive to visitors, easy to navigate and rich in useful content, with blogs and other relevant information for content marketing purposes. A website that offers visitors valuable information can be an effective marketing tool that more than repays the investment involved in creating it. Having got the best advice on SEO techniques, almost anyone in your organisation can then apply them.
  • Email: Using email for marketing purposes can deliver a ROI that is among the highest of all digital marketing activities. The cost of sending emails is typically low – the challenge comes from acquiring enough email addresses of potentially interested consumers to make the process worthwhile, you need a good database. Your database can be improved by building a list organically through consumer opt-in methods or by purchasing lists with relevant addresses. Growing your email list should be a constant concern, it is essential to internet marketing as any list you have will suffer natural wastage over time.
  • Social Media: Using social media in marketing campaigns takes time, effort and know-how. If done well, it can be a highly efficient way for a company to conduct an outreach effort, especially for businesses with limited marketing budgets. Companies that don’t want to devote the time and effort to conducting a social media marketing (SMM) campaign themselves can contract the job out to a firm specialising in the field. As with other digital marketing practices, SMM enables targeted outreach to consumers that are likely to have an interest in a company and its products. It also typically appeals to a younger audience than other marketing methods; social media tends to attract an audience with a higher concentration of millennials than other marketing and advertising methods or even other digital marketing methods such as email marketing or SEO. It is great to raising brand profile and although conversion rates are still low social media is here to stay -a high growth and important area for marketers.


What Type of ROI Should I Expect from Using Media in Marketing?

The return on investment from different media sources can vary widely depending on the type of advertisement, the target audience, and the product or products being offered. Identifying a single figure to guide ROI expectations is difficult, as the utility of media usage can vary widely from business to business.

For instance, in the case of a business where customers tend to exhibit a high loyalty factor and continue to buy goods from the business long term, the short term ROI of a media campaign doesn’t necessarily provide an accurate account of the full value to the business over the long time. On the other hand, a commodity-based business where consumers buy mainly on the basis of price is likely to be more focused on how a media outreach effort performs in the short run.

In addition, companies that are more reliant on growth are likely to accept lower initial returns on investment than businesses that don’t require high levels of growth as part of their business plan.

One way to determine what type of ROI you can expect from using media in your marketing is to look at customer cost per acquisition (CPA). This allows you to more accurately gauge whether the expense involved in acquiring customers via media sources is justified by the profits realised from doing so. For instance, if CPA is $100 per customer, and the average customer brings in $125 in profit over the course of a year, the ROI over that time frame is 25%. For many businesses, this type of ROI would be a good return on their investment dollars. If the average customer only spent $105 for a 5% annual ROI, however, it might not be worthwhile, as running a media campaign involves a certain amount of time and effort in addition to the financial cost.

Online advertising uses terminology such as cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPI) to help determine ROI on advertisements in the form of banner and other on-line ads. These figures allow you to calculate how much business activity the ads need to generate to provide an acceptable ROI.

There is no simple answer when it comes to the type of ROI you should expect from using media for your marketing efforts. In some cases, calculating a direct ROI is not helpful, as the intent of the media campaign is to create awareness of a company for long-term branding purposes rather than driving sales in the near term. In other cases, a firm already experiencing high organic growth from word of mouth and increased activity from existing customers may require a very high ROI to justify the use of media marketing efforts.

Be Aware of Hidden Costs

When using media for your marketing campaigns, there are a variety of expenses to take into account, in addition to purchasing the actual media time or access. These can include:

Personnel costs: Whether you are using in-house talent or outsourcing, the people involved in creating and managing your media content and campaigns require compensation.

Content: If you aren’t creating content for your media campaigns yourself, it must be purchased or commissioned from relevant sources.

Technology: In some cases, creating and managing media content requires specialist technology.

IP rights: If your media content uses video, images or music, the creators of this content must be compensated unless the content has been placed in the public domain for free usage via a creative commons license.

Television Commercial issues: A variety of issues can arise in regards to TV commercials, including:

  • Holding fees: These fees bind an actor to a commercial. They are required to be paid for each 13-week period the actor is associated with the commercial. If they aren’t paid, the actor is no longer held and can work on other projects or, more typically, seek renegotiation of the fee. To avoid paying higher fees at a later date, holding fees need to be properly managed over the expected lifespan of a commercial.
  • Expiration of a commercial: If a company wants to run an old commercial using the same performers, they need to be careful to check that rights are in place to air it. If they are not, airing the commercial can result in a need for expense renegotiations with the talent involved.
  • Maximum period of usage (MPU): Commercials have a MPU of 21 months. Once this time has passed all contracts binding performers to the ad expire. If you are running an ad over an extended period of time, make sure that the commercial’s run time does not exceed its MPU.


Traditional Media or Digital Media?

The type of media you choose to use for your marketing campaign should vary depending upon your objectives and the audience you are trying to reach. While there are certainly differences between new and old media when it comes to marketing, it should be noted that in some cases the two practices are converging, as in streaming broadcasts of entertainment that at one time was only shown on television.

There is a variety of considerations to keep in mind when selecting the type of media to use, including:

Budget: In some cases, budgetary considerations make the choice of media an easy one. If your marketing budget is extremely limited, Internet marketing via new media platforms is likely to be the most realistic option available. This can include:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing (SMM)
  • Content marketing, including blogging
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Targeted marketing: If your marketing is aimed at a specific group or type of consumers, it makes sense to select the type of media your target group is most likely to use. You should consider the following:

  • Age groups: While it is true that younger demographic groups are more likely to be reached via digital media, this is not as true as it once was. Internet usage has increased among all age groups and you should increasingly consider digital media for older age groups as well as for reaching younger audiences.
  • Interests: Targeting consumers by their interests is a time-honoured method of conducting a marketing campaign. For instance, sports enthusiasts can most likely be found watching sporting event broadcasts or viewing websites, magazines or shows that specialize in sports. A similar dynamic applies with regards to cooking aficionados, or those who enjoy gardening, to cite two other examples.
  • Income level: When targeting consumers by income level, using a mix of old and new media approaches is a good way to reach the desired demographic. Certain TV shows and channels are more likely to attract a wealthy audience, as are certain websites, such as those covering custom cars, or sports that tend to be disproportionately patronized by the wealthy – polo or tennis, for example.
  • Geographical location: New media advertisements provide the potential for localising ads, so that they only appear to web visitors from a certain geographical location. Old media sources by nature are, in many cases, geographically targeted, so a mixed approach using both media sources can be utilised if you are interested in targeting a specific area.
  • Interactivity: If your marketing campaign can benefit from interaction with your audience, new media is typically superior in this respect. However, traditional media can also incorporate links to new media platforms for consumers to provide feedback and comments if they are so inclined. As a result, if your campaign is designed to feature some level of interactivity this doesn’t preclude the use of traditional media; a hybrid campaign can use both sources to achieve maximum awareness while providing opportunities for interactivity.

Marketing is now frequently a cross-media and multi-platform enterprise. Digital marketing techniques can be enhanced when combined with old media and likewise traditional media campaigns like print, TV and radio are often run with supporting online elements. In today’s fragmented media landscape a target market is unlikely to consume only one type of media so marketers should choose the right mix of media channels that works best for their business.