Traditional Advertising Vs Digital Advertising

Does traditional advertisement still work compared to online ads?

To answer this question first, we need to know what traditional ads are. Platforms used by traditional advertising include Television, Radio, Newspapers/Magazines, Billboards, and Flyers/Letterbox Drops.

Online advertising 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 will decrease 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 get news from print in July-August of 2018.
  • Instagram will have 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 the way to go to reach your consumers. But is it really?

One reason cited as to why marketers choose online advertising is because so many people are online. So, it just makes sense, right? But the logical issue is that people are online doesn’t automatically mean that they will click on your banner ad. People tend to get online for a specific reason. A pop-up and banner ads tend to get in the way of that purpose.

Consequently, such ads are deemed as an annoyance and ignored at best or exited out without being viewed at worst. If online ads constantly bombard a user that they deem annoying, they may potentially come to 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, completely defeating the purpose of an all-digital ad campaign.


A major selling point of digital advertising is that anyone can advertise online. A major drawback of digital advertising is that ANYONE can advertise online. 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 ad formats of advertising are all traditional media.

Advantages of Online Advertising

Online advertising has the ability to collect and track data using cookies to learn and understand consumers’ preferences. Except the data is not always precise. This is because cookies track devices, not people. For example, let’s say a user clicks on an ad for a ski equipment site. 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 actually has no interest in skiing. The only reason he even visited the site was to purchase a present for his best friend. As such, the ads are a wasted effort, missing the truly targeted audience.

With online advertising, you can easily reach beyond your geography to offer your products or services to customers worldwide. To market your products and services globally. Within several months of aggressive SEO, you can secure millions of viewers and reach huge audiences to globally market your products and services. But what if your audience consists of just your local market? Meaning your aggressive effort may be futile.

Traditional Customer Behavior vs. Online Customers


Some customers prefer to buy things that they already know the quality of. Buying goods from a brand that the customers are already familiar with helps with time and resources. With that in mind, if a customer already knows what the product is all about, it is more likely that they will order online. Or what tends to happen is that many customers will look at a product online, then decide to go to a physical store to make that final purchase.

There is also the category of those who go into a physical store, and perhaps due to a shortage in stock, the employees can help the customer order a product online. The seller can have the product shipped to the retail store, and the customer can either pick the item up at the store or have it delivered to them. With the growth of online delivery, customers can expect their items within just a few days. These deliveries can range from two weeks to a two-day delivery span. If the customer is not in any rush, this works well in their favor.


There are also online advertisement placements to think about. When a person is not using the internet, the advertisements that will mostly be around them will come from billboards, the radio, T.V., or newspapers. Nowadays, the most likely place that you will see an advertisement will come from the internet in one way or another. Whether it be from a spam email, subscription email, or an advertisement will play just before you watch a video. These ads are bundled up everywhere online, so it is no wonder that the chance of someone shopping online is higher than a customer buying something from a physical store. These ads will automatically take someone to their website when it is clicked upon. With just a click of a few buttons and the input of a credit or debit card, that item will be shipped to a person in less than a few days.

Also, while talking about online shopping, some customers will buy something from overseas. There will also be resellers within these buyers as well. Stores will not always have everything that people will want within their stocks. So, many will turn into buying goods or selling them from overseas. Clothes, technology, and many more goods that are not sold within the buyer’s country will be bought more often.


With physical shopping, the associates’ physical presence is ready to help out with any questions or concerns that their customers might have. When a customer cannot find something, or they need some ideas for gift buying. They can ask a store employee for assistance.

However, depending on how these associates project themselves to the public, it can also cause customers not to want to shop at their local store anymore. Due to either unpleasant attitudes or lack of customer help, this can be a big factor in why some shoppers prefer to shop online. With online shopping, customers do not have to worry about the hassle of being insulted or having incompetent workers dealing with them.

This way, if they do have any questions or concerns, they will have to rely on online customer service instead. Some websites have 24/7 chat with associates. While with a physical store, they do not have that 24/7 support. Stores will mostly be open from 8:00 am till 10:00 pm at best. On average, that is the normal hours of a physical retail store. Whether it be a stand-alone store in a strip mall or within a 4-story mall, the experience of an online shopper will mostly be a standalone shopping experience, and perhaps that can be the best option to turn to.


Suppose someone were to have an unusual schedule or do not have the time to go to a physical store. These types of customers will heavily rely on online shopping. Also, depending on how much they care about their items coming in quickly, there are subscriptions that customers can sign up for. For example, a product is called a subscription box containing products that a person has signed up to receive. Some boxes only contain snacks and other types of food, and there can be some that only have clothes in them. They can come in various themes and can tie into specific genders and age groups as well.

The point of these boxes is that this is another popular form of online shopping. With the growth of online celebrities, especially those from YouTube, have been showcasing and advertising these boxes throughout the web. Whether it be from Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, potential customers are sure to be influenced by these online product placements in some way or another. There are weekly, monthly, and there are even some companies that will ship products to you if you have desired days that you would like to get them.

These subscriptions can contain random items that a customer has specified to receive. These boxes can be addicting to some consumers, and since you can only order most of these subscription boxes online, more people will turn into using online shopping because of this product alone.


With the growth of online shopping, there seems to be one company responsible for the decline of retail sales. With an overwhelming 50% of people in 2019 alone, retail shopping was halfway with eCommerce. Ecommerce refers to people buying and selling goods by using the internet to complete a transaction.

With traditional stores trying to keep their customers by having deals or sales, it becomes hard to compete with online sellers. Many of these sellers will have a coupon applied to any desired good as soon as a customer visits a website. Going into a store and waiting a couple of minutes until a customer reaches the cash register can sometimes take a while. Compared to just buying items via phone, it will save much more time.

There is also the price of a product to think about. To save as many resources as possible, online retailers will often advertise their items as cheaper. If someone were to buy it in the physical store, they could occasionally pay more for good. This way, major companies can save lots of money each year if they focus more on their online customers. Instead of hiring a huge team of associates to take care of a store, it can save more resources in the long run.


Although, even with security measures taken into consideration, identity theft is one of the biggest issues affecting the growth of the online market. A data breach happening within a company and the well-being of the consumer is at risk as well. If the security checks and defenses of a company are not strong enough from hacking, this can greatly affect the sales of an online store. Especially with big online deals that everyone is aware of, events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are days when identity theft will most likely occur.

With traditional retail shoppers, there will be a lot of security questions given to the buyer. Since the buyer is physically present at check out, the clerk at the cash register can ask to see the shopper’s ID. This way, many more identity thefts can be caught, and fewer people will be at risk when shopping.


With the advancement of technology, it will also come with easy accommodations to follow along with it. VR technology is an example of this. Those who have health disabilities or those who want to do shopping within the comforts of their own home. VR technology would be considered a blessing to these groups of people. There are apps in the making that will allow customers to try on clothing within the VR simulation.

More examples of this new technology are somewhat simulated in some major clothing stores around the world. SenseMi makes this example of shopping technology. What SenseMi has done is that they have produced an application that will allow users to try on clothing without trying on the physical clothing itself. This removes the hassle of going back and forth to getting the correct clothing size from a rack or shelf. This can save a lot of time for the consumer. The way things are going for this app, instead of being solely only available for stores, can open the gateway for being an app for phones and even computers. Thus, it allows for the growth of online clothes shopping if stores consider partnering up with SenseMi.


What will the future experience of shopping have in store for both consumers and businesses alike? The way things are heading, it is safe to say that online shopping will only continue to grow even more. Younger generations are getting more in tune with the internet, and they are using more online services such as Uber and Uber Eats. This generation seems to enjoy staying home more than any other past generations before them. Since these young consumers can order goods online with a quick input without moving about, online shopping can only grow from here on out.

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 ad, 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.

Create different landing pages for different ad campaigns. A landing page is a great way to drive traffic, improve your SEO and build your brand. This enables you to craft a more effective call to action. If you send a visitor to your home page, he or she 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 who your customers are and which campaigns get the best results. Once you understand who your consumers are, do your research on the various ad platforms available to make sure 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 50 years old plus, then printed flyers or radio broadcasting may make more sense.

By advertising both online and offline with an integrated approach, you get the best of both worlds. You can boost trust in your business, get customers to spend more time on your website, and convert through your ads. More importantly, your business will see an improvement in customer acquisition and sales.

Seattle SEO Now is a local Seattle SEO Agency. We specialize in driving traffic and maintaining a good website ranking, standing and reputation for businesses

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