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Since the dawn of the internet, marketers have been comparing the effectiveness of traditional versus digital media all the time. It's what they do. Traditional channels really are the older forms of media, like TV, and radio, and print, you know the kind. And then digital is obviously digital marketing methods that use things like the internet, mobile phones, and other digital formats.
Consider some of the benefits of digital marketing:
Those are important distinctions, and we must keep them in mind when justifying our position.
That's not to say that there's no need for traditional channels. It's actually important that they work together, because as part of your media mix, we will include traditional channels.
Consider some of the benefits of traditional marketing:
You really can connect your brand with the consumer using traditional marketing. And there's numerous examples of times when using both digital and traditional channels together. And a multi-channel media plan really leads to positive and excellent results.
While it's straightforward enough to measure the impact of digital channels on conversions, on sales or engagement, the challenge is actually to measure the effectiveness of traditional channels on campaign activity.
One way of doing this is to use things like baseline changes in performance of your digital channels, pre and post campaign. So what does normal look like? And if things go up, you can attribute this to the influence of the traditional channels.
Another key driver of this is: did your brand search increase? Traditional media can drive awareness of your brand, and now people are actually looking for you. This is a great indicator of traditional media performance, and will translate into positive, bottom-line benefits for your company or your business.
We must use traditional and digital channels together in a consistent way. So, aligning the online look and feel of a campaign messaging – its colors and so on – drives higher performance. Alignment across your channels increases audience recall, and your campaign becomes more recognizable for people who see it across all the different channels, whether it's online or offline. They will recognize it through the consistency.
Let's compare traditional and media formats and how they're consumed by the audience.
So firstly, we have mass versus individual. When people are watching TV or listening to the radio, it can be more of a group experience. The medium is consumed in a group situation. So, when you're watching TV with the family, or listening to the radio in the car and different things like that, you're all receiving the same message. You're all hearing the same things, and everybody is exposed to the same stimuli. It's a group experience where all the eyes and ears are receiving that single, focused message, so it has to be adaptable to everyone.
However, if we look at social media, email, and apps for example, the medium is the same, and they're used the same by different people, but the content can be customized for the individual. Most people use the same social channels, the same email platforms, and common apps, just to engage with content or whatever exactly it is they're doing.
But thanks to technology, we're able to understand who that person is, and we can adapt our messaging to what consumers actually want to see, and deliver them a personalized variation of the content based on their preferences. It's far more impactful for them, and that is an individual experience.
Consider the difference between and active and a passive audience.
Passive audiences consume things like TV and radio, sometimes without any direct engagement with the channel. They're not really interacting with it. And then when the ads come on, they might not even be paying attention. So, it's much more of a passive kind of experience. It's more of a one-way communication stream, in reality, and therefore, it's less impactful.
On the other hand, we have active media. This is a form of media where consumers can engage with it. With active media, it really tends to be digital, like Facebook, or Google, and different channels like that. Because content on digital platforms has been developed to be highly engaging, consumers can share, comment, like, tweet, pin, do whatever it is, but they're doing something with that content. It's a two-way form of communication, where the consumer can react, and essentially, they can talk back.
Now, another characteristic is the concept of one-to-one versus one-to-many communications. As digital marketers, we can create multiple variations of the same message. This means we can tailor our message to different people, and engage them more effectively. By doing this, brands can also aim to individualize, to personalize, and become more relevant to the consumer, because it's about them, and that's what technology can deliver for us.
And finally, we've got the concept of inbound/outbound, a key differentiator between traditional and online media. Outbound is, "I'm the brand and I push my message out on TV, radio, or print, or whatever." And inbound is, "I'm a digital brand and people are coming to seek out my content on social media, subscribe to my email, because they want to hear from me, or search for me online. In essence, they are coming to us."
So the inbound/outbound split is a great differentiator between our traditional and our digital channels as we can see the differences unfold.Back to Top
Cathal Melinn is a digital strategist, lecturer, and trainer. He has over 15 years’ experience in eCommerce, social media, affiliate marketing, data analytics, and all things digital. He worked at Yahoo! Search in 2005 as a Senior Search Strategist for the UK Financial Services vertical. He moved to the world of agency in 2010 as Head of Search and Online Media. Cathal’s previous clients include Apple, Vodafone, Expedia, Virgin, Universal Music Group, Amazon, Compare the Market, and HSBC.
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
This module opens with a comprehensive overview of channel planning including the challenges this presents to marketers. It covers inbound and outbound strategies, cross media planning, the digital channel mix, and mobile marketing. Next, the module dives deeper into key topics related to each of the channels, covering social media marketing and content marketing strategy, search engine marketing, SEO, conversion rate optimization, and paid search, email and affiliate marketing, and display and video advertising, including ad formats and creative.
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