Media buying used to be simple. Well, maybe not simple, but it was definitely more straightforward than it is today. You had fewer outlets to choose from — Print (newspaper and/or magazine), Radio, Billboard, and TV. You could compare each channel’s reach into your geographic market and amongst your ideal customers’ demographics with relative ease, and you could allocate your media buying budget accordingly.
These days, you still have Print, Radio, Billboard and TV. They haven’t gone away, and in fact they can be even more effective now that many advertisers have all but abandoned them in the wake of digital media. But pursuing these “traditional” channels isn’t enough, because digital media is the most popular media of the day. Social media, paid search, preroll ads for online video and more all have to be considered, and you have to consider the technological differences in the consumer experience.
Every consumer who sees your commercial on TV is going to see the same commercial. Every driver passing your billboard is going to see the same message. However, someone watching your ad on their phone is going to have a different experience than someone who sees it on their desktop screen. An ad that pops up in an app is going to create a different impression than a banner ad on a website.
And the list of considerations for digital media advertising goes on from there.
So how do you make sense of it, and make sure your media buying is as effective and successful as it can be?
Finding the Sweet Spot in Your Media Mix
The key word here is “mix.” No matter what niche you’re in, you need to be balancing your media spend between traditional and digital channels. This is no different, in theory, than the need for a balanced media mix in the pre-digital age — focusing solely on radio (for example) was never a good strategy; maximum impact required strong advertising across multiple channels.
The same is true today. Digital media adds more channels to the mix, creating new opportunities…and a few new challenges. But at the heart of it all, balancing your buying by using multiple channels is still the way to go.
According to a study conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation, an advertising campaign with a 78% spend on traditional media (and 22% on digital) provides the best ROI. Looking solely at the sought-after Millennial consumer, who many companies assume can only be reached through digital channels, the numbers shift only slightly — a 71% spend on traditional media with 29% going to digital does best. Shifting your media buying to better reflect these proportions can improve the return you see on your advertising by as much as 60%.
Might these numbers change as digital matures? Absolutely. Advertising and media are nothing if not dynamic. But digital channels clearly aren’t as effective as many modern marketers would have you believe, and the meat of your media buying should still be in traditional channels.
Why Traditional Media is Still an Essential Part of Your Media Buying
Successful advertising carries a strong message that speaks to consumers, it’s true, and in some ways it’s easier and cheaper to push that message through digital channels. Advertising also needs to reach consumers to be successful, though, and digital’s apparent affordability often comes at the expense of actual attention.
Not only are people still consuming plenty of traditional media, they tend to be far more focused on that media when they’re consuming it.
People still drive by billboards, and they don’t have twenty different tabs and a dozen different display ads competing for their attention when they do. They listen to their car radios and sit through TV commercials at roughly the same rate as they did before. They’ve just a dded digital media to their daily mix, and that’s exactly what you should be doing.
Traditional media should still be the majority of your media buying because it’s still what the majority of consumers see the most of, and because you can capture their attention more easily than via digital channels. Finally, you need traditional media because it allows you to reach a broader audience faster and more affordably than digital ad buying.
Digital media is great at hyper-targeting your ideal customers. The ability to track consumers who visit your site and your social media platforms can allow you to spend advertising dollars with the precision of a surgeon, drilling down your message and your audience to reinforce your brand and reel in new customers in a way traditional media can’t match.
But digital media has nothing on traditional when it comes to overall reach and building brand awareness out in the real world. Traditional media’s impact is harder to measure because it is more pervasive — you can only estimate how many people drove past your billboard and took in the message, but everyone driving that route is bound to subconsciously become aware of your brand at the very least.
And that’s where the power of a healthy media mix really becomes apparent.
More Touchpoints Means More Opportunity
When you use traditional media to create and perpetuate widespread awareness of your brand, your more targeted digital marketing efforts will see a much better ROI. Customers being served a digital display ad or preroll commercial will experience it as their second or third (or fourth, or fifth…) touchpoint with your brand, not their first. Breed familiarity first, then follow through with targeted messaging.
So, don’t let the lure of “new” or the fear of missing out cause you to ditch the tried-and-true. If you need help figuring out what the right combination is for your budget, give us a call (985-377-7442). As a full-service advertising agency with both digital and traditional media divisions, we are not swayed either way. We’re “media neutral.” Our buyers work together to create a media buy that uniquely meets your goals and budget.
Heidi Guerra, Director of Media Strategy