Traditional Advertising Vs. Digital Advertising

5 min readJul 21, 2020

Does traditional advertisement still work compared to online ads?

What are conventional ads?

Platforms used by traditional advertising include:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Newspapers/Magazines
  • Billboards
  • Flyers/Letterbox Drops

What are online (digital) ads?

Digital advertisements can be found on:

  • Websites
  • Web Hosting Sites (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo)
  • Online Banners
  • Social Media (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Distribution Platforms (e.g., Email, Twitter)

Now that we know what the two formats are, as a business owner, which advertising will best boost your sales. Let's start by looking at some stats:

  • Total traditional ad spending share in the US decreased to 45.8% in 2019.
  • 50% of all advertising dollars will be spent online by 2020, equaling all combined traditional market spend globally.
  • 43% of new customers make their first purchase after seeing a product in a YouTube ad.
  • Only 16% of US adults got news from print in July-August 2018.
  • Instagram had more users at 113.3 million than print readers at 112.7 million in 2019.
  • Paid search ads can increase awareness of a brand by 80%.

Traditional Advertising is Dying Out

So, it would seem that online advertising is how to reach your consumers. But is it?

Online marketers choose online advertising because so many people are online. So, it just makes sense, right? But the logical issue is that online people don't automatically mean that they will click on your banner ad.

People tend to get online for a specific purpose.

As people browse the web, pop-up and banner ads tend to get in the way of that purpose. Consequently, such ads have been deemed an annoyance and ignored at best or exited out without being viewed. If online ads constantly bombard users that they feel annoying, they may view the seller behind these ads in an unfavorable light. Furthermore, people who are inundated with too many online ads could become so aggravated as to install ad-blockers, ultimately defeating the purpose of an all-digital ad campaign. For example, many firewalls and physical add blockers like My Rat Trap.

A central selling point of digital advertising is that anyone can advertise online. A significant drawback of digital advertising is that ANYONE can advertise online. Have you ever heard of malvertising? This is malicious advertising — a user clicks on an online ad, and instead of taking them to a reputable site, they are redirected to a malicious site, with dire consequences. Of course, not all online advertisements contain viruses. But everyone knows that it's a possibility, so many viewers may be hesitant to click on your online ad. That's why the top five most trusted advertising formats are all traditional media.

Online Ads & Cookies

Another advantage of online advertising is collecting and tracking cookies' data to learn and understand consumers' preferences. Except the data is not always precise. This is because cookies track devices, not people.

The ads are a wasted effort, missing the indeed targeted audience. For example, a user clicks on a ski equipment site ad. As soon as he clicked on the site, a cookie detected it, and now he's receiving ad after ad for this site on his computer. The user has no interest in skiing. The only reason he even visited the site was to purchase a present for his best friend.

The key benefit of online marketing and placing ads online is the availability of customers globally! With online advertising, you can easily reach beyond the local vicinity and offer your products or services to customers worldwide. Also, within several months of aggressive SEO, you can potentially reach millions of viewers.

Is Online Advertising Pointless?

So, is marketing online just a big waste of your time? Of course not! Digital advertising should be part of your marketing plan — it's essential these days and affordable. But it would help if you took advantage of traditional advertising too.

Integrate your online presence into your traditional advertising. For instance, say your website address multiple times in radio ads, show it at the bottom of television or print ads, and always include it in direct mail flyers. If you are going to advertise via television, remember to post it on video hosting sites, such as YouTube. This type of platform gives you the power of sharing through the viral effect (basically online word of mouth). Also, there are no middlemen to pay.

Landing Pages

Whether traditional ads or an online ad on Google, landing pages should be explicitly created for each online marketing campaign. A landing page is a great way to drive traffic, improve your SEO, and build your brand. This enables you to craft a more compelling call to action. If you send a visitor to your home page, they may get lost along the way to making a purchase.

Track the results of your advertising. Use codes in print ads and custom URLs in digital ads to see your customers and which campaigns get the best results. Once you understand your consumers, research the various ad platforms available to ensure your advertisement will reach your target customer. For example, if your target consumer is under 21 years old, mobile advertising through Snapchat might be a great choice. If your market is local customers who are 40 years old plus, then printed flyers or radio broadcasting maybe make more sense.

Takeaway — So which one should you choose?

You get the best of both worlds by advertising online and offline with an integrated approach. You can boost trust in your business, get customers to spend more time with your ads, and improve customer acquisition and sales.

One main reason that Digital marketing is better than traditional marketing is that with digital marketing, you will reach a much larger audience. Also, it is more cost-efficient because you don't have to spend as much as traditional marketing. On the other hand, traditional marketing costs a lot more for advertising and does not return as digital marketing. The table shows the percentage of people that used the internet in 2019. I

Most people are on the internet, so you should be where your consumers are. You may also want to read the ultimate guide to advertising.




A Seattle web design and online marketing agency that delivers high-end websites. A passion for web development and SEO.