Why Traditional Advertising Still Matters

Online, mobile and other forms of digital advertising are top-of-mind for most marketers these days. But in the rush to digital, are you forgetting a vital part of marketing? Two recent studies reveal recent that traditional advertising—including print, TV and radio—still has an important role to play in attracting customers. In fact, it may be more important than digital advertising in some cases.

That’s because consumers like and trust traditional advertising much more than digital advertising. For example, eight in 10 consumers in a MarketingSherpa study say they usually trust print advertising (82 percent) and television advertising (80 percent) when making a purchasing decision. Direct mail advertising (76 percent), radio advertising (71 percent) and out-of-home advertising (69 percent) followed close behind in terms of trustworthiness. In fact, the top five most trusted ad formats are all traditional media.

In contrast, online pop-up ads are the most hated and least trusted kind of advertising. Just one-fourth of respondents in the MarketingSherpa study trust pop-ups, and 73 percent of consumers in a separate HubSpot survey dislike them.

Meanwhile, MarketingSherpa found, consumers engage with traditional ads to a surprising degree. For instance, more than 50 percent say they “often” or “always” watch television ads from companies they’re satisfied with. Half also read print ads they get in the mail, and 48 percent read print ads picked up in-store. Email is the only digital format with similar engagement levels: Half of survey respondents say they “often” or “always” subscribe to emails from companies they like.

What kinds of ads don’t customers engage with? HubSpot’s survey shows 57 percent of those surveyed dislike online pre-roll ads (ads that play before a video), and 43 percent don’t watch them. In addition, many consumers block online ads altogether. Common complaints about online ads: they’re intrusive, they make websites load more slowly or they cover the entire website.

Pop-up ads or ads that require customers to click in order to close them are especially annoying. Some 90 percent of consumers in the HubSpot survey say they dislike such ads. Mobile phone ads earn disdain as well—seven in 10 HubSpot respondents hate them.

Essentially, consumers dislike online ads that keep them from accomplishing what they’re trying to do—read an article, browse a website or watch a video. Perhaps traditional ads seem more appealing because they’re also more controllable. Consumers can choose to look at your print ad, flyer or direct mail piece at a time and place convenient for them.

Of course, digital advertising should be part of your marketing plan—it’s essential these days (not to mention affordable). But how can you take advantage of traditional advertising’s power, too?

  • Integrate your online presence into your traditional advertising. Say your website URL multiple times in your radio ad, show it at the bottom or your cable TV ad or print ad, and include it in direct mail pieces.
  • Create different landing pages for different ad campaigns. This enables you to craft a more effective call to action. If you just 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 which campaigns get the best results. That way, you can focus more of your budget on the formats that are most effective for you.
  • Be sure your branding is consistent. Whatever the format—online or offline—your advertising should convey a consistent brand message, using the same colors, fonts, style and taglines throughout.

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 with your ads, and improve customer acquisition and sales.

About the author