With a widespread increase in the use of digital media, it is natural to expect a number of marketing strategies arising in this environment. As we all know, these offer a range of advantages over the traditional media (TV, radio, billboards, fliers etc.) coming from the easy access and adaptability to extensive user databases offered by companies like Google or Facebook. Targeting is very precise: it allows us to reach very specific groups of interests with a precision that has never been seen before in any other marketing area. However, the traditional media are still alive and well and, in some areas, doing even better than digital marketing.
How is that possible? - the giants are to blame
The real superiority of old over new comes from the drawbacks of the Internet-based marketing itself. First and most straightforward reason is the demographic structure of the Internet users which looks quite the opposite of the TV users - most of them are younger people with a lower wealth and willingness to pay than for example the baby boomers who currently possess most of the earth’s wealth. This is supported by findings of a marketing professor Raluca Todor (2016): “Internet marketing is not yet embraced by all people: some customers, especially older ones still don't trust digital environment, preferring to use the traditional methods.” Indeed, this lack of trust is prominent in the Internet for a sound reason - many ads seen on different platforms but especially often on Facebook or Instagram are fraudulent - they offer apps that use your hardware to mine cryptocurrencies or are just another form of scam aimed to gather your personal information, credit card numbers or other data. It seems that despite the fact that it also circulates fake news and harmful information (like the cigarettes ads with doctors who recommended smoking), the TV maintains its status of a “trustworthy source of information” among its users, likely thanks to a plenty of regulations that bind the advertisers there. Analogical regulations are not binding Facebook to remove those harmful ads, therefore they remain complacent in these large scale scam operations and make advertising online much harder for genuine companies. Moreover, a large portion of outreach of advertisements on Facebook is nullified by the fact that the recipients of the ads are bots. From our experience of our cooperation with Facebook we noticed that in many cases most of the entire target audience turned out to be bots, meaning that we overpaid for the actual, human audience we reached. Marketers are growingly aware of this and become more cautious of what is happening in the Internet business environment today.
Should you then market on TV? Well, not really...
It would seem as if the traditional media were still a way to go if you wish to gain your customers’ trust and sell efficiently. However, the TV is in fact at the verge of a rapid decline. A 2015 study conducted by ZenithOptimedia summarised the previous 5 years in the marketing environment by establishing changes in the usage and outreach of different medias. While in this period the Internet grew by 105%, other outlets shrinked: Television by 8%, Radio by 15%, Newspapers by 31% and Cinema by 11%. Moreover, the research conducted by EY-Parthenon strategy consulting in Germany has shown that the age groups of TV watchers shifted significantly: younger people are four times less likely to watch TV then the eldest which causes a lot of potential problems for the sustainability of the television industry and put its existence under a question mark. This is in line with Todor’s findings (2016) who stated that “Older people may seem to still prefer to spend their time on more traditional media channels like television or radio and in consequence they are still consumers of traditional marketing” and the ZenithOptimedia study was also recalled in her article.
Trust is the key
So, it turns out that the greatest advantage of the traditional media is their image of trustworthy, reliable sources of information. This can be utilised in campaigns more deeply affecting the potential buyers who will feel more confident purchasing these specific brands. Another objective would specifically be targeting people who are not interested in the product yet but can develop brand recognition and positive associations, meaning that when they eventually decide to buy a product they will choose the brand they are familiar with. Trust is a significant factor implying a range of other positive associations or emotions and is something that is missing from the online environment. A person who gets scammed online will likely remember it for many years to come and will share their experience with others, thus disadvantaging the online marketing.
Our message: be the change you wish to see
By looking at the current trends - both in numbers and in general - there is no doubt that digital marketing is the future of sales. However, these aforementioned problems will stick to it like a leech, draining the value from legitimate companies. Instead of just quitting from digital marketing, we encourage everyone to create ads according to the highest standards - genuine, creative and honest. While doing so, the marketing community should put much more pressure on the giants like Facebook to curb the potentially harmful ads completely and increase the quality of overall ad content in the Internet. This way both the companies and the customers will reap the benefits of a great, trustworthy market environment.
Todor, R., 2016. Blending traditional and digital marketing. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov. Economic Sciences. Series V, 9(1), pp.51–56.
ZenithOptimedia, 2015. Media consumption forecasts.