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Can Digital Advertising Replace ALL Traditional Advertising?

Can digital advertising replace all traditional advertising? Yes! By 99%. That’s my answer. Here’s why: A Brief History of Online Advertising If we think about traditional advertising, the channels include:
  • Television and Radio Broadcast
  • Newspapers and Magazines
  • Billboards and Out-of-Home Advertising
  • Direct Mail
These are each great mediums to reach a fairly large, albeit shrinking, audience which is extremely diverse in demographics, psychographics and lifestyle. If we are a major political campaign or major brand, these channels are appropriate. For all others – it is time to take a serious look at digital advertising. Digital advertising received a bad reputation from its infancy years. When digital advertising first started, it was in the form of the dreaded ubiquitous banner ad. While banner ads are essentially the digital equivalent of traditional advertising in reaching the masses, there simply weren’t masses online in one particular spot at any given time to make them effective. For early online banner ads, the limited inventory made them less effective than desired, but digital advertising continued to evolve beyond its early print-like form. Digital advertising platforms developed the ability to target. While the limits of early targeting did more to eliminate potential audience members than to include the largest qualified target audience, the modern online display ad more closely resembles something from science fiction than its primordial print-like form. Modern Online Advertising Today’s digital advertising allows marketers to achieve the same results as with traditional advertising, but in a much more effective manner. The ability to create brand recognition by wide range exposure can be achieved through intelligent placement of online and mobile advertising within the most popular sites. Consider placement in these areas: online news media sites, weather, streaming video and audio sites including radio and TV sites, search engines, shopping and travel sites, and even dating sites. Include the wide and varied social and network platforms in the mix and you’ve got nearly all of your target population. A broad enough online media plan will certainly create brand presence. Advertising and marketing plans have been based on a few simple practices – multiple touch points, offers or enticement, and response mechanisms. No question, digital can win in this competition over more traditional means. The ability to have multiple touch points is certainly much more exceptional when we consider search, social and mobile advertising opportunities alone. The enticement or offers can be personalized in this space, thereby creating a much greater engagement rate, and of course the response mechanisms can be instantaneous. No paper tear-outs, no stamps and no lag-time between your message, the customer’s decision and your delivery. Traditional advertising requires greater lead time to place, realize and review responses. Your newspaper ad needs to be designed and submitted days before placement; television requires production and placement which is easily weeks ahead of placement. Again, while these channels certainly have a place, they also present significant challenges. Digital advertising can often be created and launched in the same day. Once launched, campaign effectiveness can be monitored in a near real-time environment, and can be adjusted at will based on live insights. The Slow Growth of Digital Why is traditional so popular then? Easy – most marketers understand it. It’s still regarded as a ‘safe’ choice, especially for older, more conservative brands. How difficult is it to understand; you produce a TV commercial, pick the network and show lineup that you want to run in and presto, there’s an advertisement. You know the average viewership of that spot and the demographics. It’s not complicated. Flip the channel to digital, and it gets a whole lot more complex. What type of digital ad are we placing? Will it be a banner ad, search, mobile? Will it interact with the user? Where will the ad take the user and what is the experience post-click? Is the placement based on demographics or lifestyle choices? Will we pay for the ad based on impressions (traditional media-style) or engagements? Digital advertising is more nuanced for what it allows. It’s the difference between a deep fat fry and sous-vide – a few surface similarities, but different worlds and very different results. You be the judge. Here are two easy questions. You decide where to place your ads:
  • How many minutes per day does your target audience read a newspaper or listen to the radio?
  • How many minutes per day does your target audience spend online – on either desktop or mobile?
How Marketers Allocate Their Digital Marketing Budgets In a recent Gartner report, digital or online advertising earned the top spending spot in online marketing budgets at 12.5% of a steadily growing share of marketing spend. It’s worth noting that #3 on the list, with over 10% of budget, also accounts for a form of digital advertising with tremendous targeting ability, paid/sponsored search. Digital has evolved, and it just keeps getting better.
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