I’ll just come out and say it: I’m the sceptic’s sceptic. While mainstream opinion seems to be leaning towards digital ads, I’m not convinced digital marketing alone delivers the best value for your business and brand. As someone who has worked on 360-degree marketing campaigns for 12 years, I can see the benefits of digital marketing without losing sight of the numbers.

If you’re not going digital, people will start to think your brand is falling behind the times. But honestly, this says a lot more about businesses caving in to social pressure rather than to pressure from sales numbers. And that has been by far the biggest alarm bell whenever somebody goes all digital evangelist on me.

Apple launched the award-winning ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign all over the world in 2015, which was seen in over 70 cities across 25 countries, with over 10,000 billboards—imagine that reach! Likewise, in February, Facebook turned to billboards and television all over the UK.

Other giant tech upstarts like Uber and XiaoMi also ran traditional ads in India on top of online ads. These are all indications that there’s still a place for traditional advertising today. If traditional advertising is dead, why did these tech giants do it?

Source: Apple Insiders - This campaign by Apple went viral and they portrayed it in the best way too, through outdoor advertising.

1. People still consume way more traditional media

According to a 2015 consumer report by Nielsen, Malaysians are still consuming more above-the-line (ATL) media than anything else (magazines at 64 per cent, radio at 62 per cent and billboards at 58 per cent). Radio itself reaches up to 93.7 per cent of all Malaysians – the highest among all medium of communications in terms of consumption and reach. And I’ll let Spencer Berwin, JCDecaux’s managing director of sales, speak about how outdoor advertising is killing it: “Outdoor is so smart that it reaches 98 per cent of the UK population every week. That’s more than television. It reaches 1.5 billion eyeballs every day. That’s bigger than the population of China.” All that ad space isn’t going anywhere. You should make the most out of it.

Souce: Marketing Week - Outdoor advertising reaches billions of eyeballs every day.

2. Traditional ads reach real people

Mass media is called that for a reason. Mediums like television, radio, print and billboards reach thousands if not millions of viewers at a time. You can always be sure the money you spend on traditional ads are reaching enormous swathes of real, breathing, living consumers all the time. Conversely, as much as 48 per cent of the traffic on the Internet is non-human and half of all online ads are never seen by a human being but by bots.

Also read: Mobile advertising in APAC still dependent on banners, but native ads could enhance engagement

3. Traditional ads are surprisingly good at driving sales

A 2015 Market Share study has found television dominates over other media when it comes to advertising performance. According to the study: “Television has the highest efficiency at achieving key performance indicators (KPIs) like sales and new accounts. When comparing performance at similar spending levels, television averaged four times the sales lift of digital.” The study also found television to be the only medium to maintain its effectiveness (a mere 1.5 per cent decrease in five years) while online advertising has declined more than 10 per cent.

Source: AdWeek - Television still dominates when it comes to attracting attention.

4. Traditional ads are extremely effective for brand-building

Ever wonder why ‘branded’ items feel more, well, ‘branded’? Most successful brands are known from their overwhelming presence in traditional mass media. Brands which appear on screen and in glossy papers give the illusion of ubiquity, luxury, and wealth. Studies say radio has an exceptional ability to influence brand perception.

In the United States, people who heard a radio ad campaign were 44 per cent more likely to recommend the brand than those who didn’t hear it. Brand-switchers who were exposed to the campaign were nearly twice as likely to request a quote. And it’s not just the radio: When our team sent a survey to current advertisers last year, we found the majority of businesses still believe in good ad placement in a reputable newspaper. ‘Credibility’, ‘reputation’, and ‘image’ are their top reasons for investing in a good old print ad in a niche publication.

5. Traditional ads are winning the attention economy

Attention has become a scarce resource. Most people who consume content on mobile or on browsers no longer read – they scan. Digital consumption habits have shrunk the amount of time people are willing to spend on consuming information. Guess who’s winning in this age of shrinking attention spans? According to a study by the American’s Speciality Institute, they found a whopping 84 per cent of Americans tend to remember a company’s brand after looking at their logo. How’s that for value? The Association of Magazine Media (MPA) also found magazine media audiences have increased by 7 per cent year-over-year in 2015.

Also read: Advertising, content and the future of the internet

6. ‘Virgin’ businesses are really curious about traditional ads

Our SEO monitor tells us some of the most popular keyword queries for traditional advertising are ‘traditional advertising advantages’ and ‘traditional advertising vs. online advertising’. In fact, one of the most common questions we receive as an advertising agency is: ‘Should I look into traditional advertising?’ The truth is many young businesses out there are still curious about traditional advertising and are trying to learn what they can get out of a good ad placement on television, radio, print and out-of-home (OOH). That curiosity means small businesses are looking to spend – they just don’t know how. Once you know how to cross-optimise your ads for online and offline consumption, you’re winning the game. Think big!

Source: Nielsen - Malaysian's still trust traditional advertising

Conclusion: Diversify, diversify, diversify

Ultimately, digital advertising is a supplement, not a substitute. It’s an amplifier, not an edifier. Even if you’re a purely tech or digital product, a move beyond digital advertising will pay off. Contrary to popular belief, advertising is not a zero-sum game where one medium trumps another. The key to success is integrating digital advertising with more traditional media buys while optimising all your traditional ads for online.

Part of the problem today is most of us lack perfect information on traditional advertising, its pricing, and its processes. But what if it were different? What if we had an Airbnb or Agoda or Amazon for booking traditional ad space? One website. One place to browse, compare, and book any and all media in just a few clicks. This is our dream for AdEasy.


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The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

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