Traditional Advertising is Alive and Well

“Digital marketing is the future.” Whoever the first person was to make that statement wasn’t wrong.

The first clickable ad went live in 1994. At that moment, the world of marketing as we knew it forever changed. From Yahoo and MySpace to Google and Facebook, the digital age exploded and hasn’t looked back.

Perhaps one of the greatest milestones in digital marketing was the cookie. The ability to track user habits and garner instant data was like manna from Heaven for marketers. Not to mention the fact that digital marketing was so much more affordable. It was a no-brainer. Understandably, advertising budgets saw a significant shift as brands started to spend more on digital and less on traditional.

Many in the industry predicted that traditional media platforms would soon be forming their own sad version of the First Wives Club. However, much like Y2K and the 2012 apocalypse, the prognostications of traditional advertising’s demise seem to have fallen flat.

As highlighted in a recent article by Harvard Business Review, not only is traditional advertising still alive and kicking, it’s headed for growth for the first time in over a decade…and that’s not just because of media inflation. So what’s driving this trend?

There are many factors contributing to traditional media’s comeback – the looming death of third-party cookies, the rising concern of ad fraud and skepticism of measuring effectiveness, increased brand-building efforts that fit better on traditional platforms, even the growing medium of podcasting. And don’t get me started on those ridiculous ads that pop up and block almost the entire page of an article, making it impossible to read more than one line at a time! The negative brand association with such frustrating ads is prompting marketers to want to break through the digital advertising clutter.

But perhaps the most telling driver of traditional media’s resurgence is consumer trust. According to the MarketingSherpa survey cited in the article, the top five most trusted advertising formats are all traditional:

This means that the overwhelming majority of customers trust traditional advertising – print, TV, direct mail, radio, and outdoor – more than digital or social media advertising when it comes to making purchase decisions. Now, if you’ve ever had a negative purchase experience after clicking on a random, unknown vendor’s ad in your Facebook feed, this doesn’t come as a surprise. But, it also makes sense from a System 1 perspective. We store information more readily from a trusted source than from a non-trusted source, meaning that it goes into long-term memory more rapidly. As a result, marketers can use traditional advertising to help build brand credibility and trust with jaded buyers.

The Bottom Line

Even though digital marketing has dominated growth in ad budgets for over a decade, traditional advertising still plays a vital role. When used together, traditional and digital marketing can reach more audiences and build consumer trust, which in turn will create brand affinity and long-term growth.

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