What a whirlwind the last two decades have been; our lives and advertising strategies literally transformed by tech. The worlds of marketing, advertising and sales will never be the same. Millennials are entering and dominating entrepreneurialism and shunning 9-5; and generation Z are coming for us. It’s mind-blowing to think that generations who perceive virtual reality and machine learning as ‘normal’ are almost operating alongside us in business. Digital marketing is well and truly cemented into our day to day. While it’s getting a little trickier to cut through the noise, online advertising is no less powerful. Some might say that traditional advertising has been trumped…permanently. And not in the presidential sense.
I came across a research piece recently, written in 2010 for the International Journal of Advertising. I quote. “Digital advertising is set to become a serious challenger within the rapidly changing media landscape. Today there are concerns that advertising strategies based on models and experiences developed with traditional media may need to be reviewed in the digital market.”
Well, that was certainly an understatement, even nine years ago.
Traditional Advertising vs Digital Marketing
Pre-digital, publicity and PR was everything. The best brains in advertising really had to define new limits and develop creative ways to get noticed, and be remembered. Richard Brandson, probably the most recognised entrepreneur of all time, personified traditional publicity stunts. Among some of his most noteworthy and entertaining antics:
- Tried to fly around the world in a hot air balloon (many times…never made it – got rescued from the water several times)
- Jumped off the roof of a casino (crashed against the wall and ripped his pants).
- Drove a tank down Fifth Avenue in New York City and presented to blow up the Coca Cola sign. (if it wasn’t for this stunt we may never have been aware that “Virgin Cola” was a thing back in 1998 – albeit very fleeting).
Although the world loves watching him in amusement, perhaps digital marketing was born so that Branson didn’t need to keep risking his life!
In traditional media big moves were necessary to cut through mainstream and ‘typical’ advertising. Print ads, billboards and flyers are all a little ‘vanilla’ without the support of a recognisable brand and personality. TV and radio advertising became the spaces in which a brand voice could be seen and heard. It was a very costly and annoyingly short-lived investment. There’s no such thing as an ‘evergreen’ TV ad campaign.
When digital marketing came along to burst the traditional media bubble, for many business owners it was a welcome invasion.
Is Online Marketing Better than Traditional Marketing?
Many believe that digital marketing has outgrown traditional marketing, and has left it floundering in a cloud of digital dust. We are of course devoted advocates for the benefits of digital marketing; but we also remember pre-digital advertising, marketing and sales. We remember what it was like to deal directly with people, and solve human problems for humans in a human way.
Great digital marketing is really traditional advertising delivered differently; more efficiently. For some promotions you might be better off choosing traditional or modern marketing methods, others you might benefit greatly if your advertising strategies are both traditional and digital – as long as they’re complementary to each other.
Electronic Direct Mailing and Instant Advertising
Advertising your content traditionally generally comes with a timeline. Once you choose your chosen media, whether it be broadcast, print or post, you book your spots, arrange your shoot or ad design, send it off by the deadline aaand….wait…aaaand…wonder.
The whole process can take weeks, even months, is typically pricey and usually payable upfront. Generally, you’re out of pocket as you wait for the broadcast spots and postman, so if you were advertising a sale or particular event, you need to time it wisely. The only way to advertise instantly back in the day, was through telemarketing, door to door sales or in-store demonstrations.
Digital can be fiddly; but it’s instant. What a difference email made to the world! Electronic Direct Mail (EDMs) is still one of the most powerful marketing tools, and at a fraction of the cost of a good old letterbox drop. (I can hear gen Z Googling ‘what is a letterbox?’).
Instantly upload, share and delete ads on the internet to your heart’s content!! Getting your content out there is certainly a lot faster (can’t get any faster than instant) but what comes with that freedom is….A LOT of content all the time, from everywhere. How do you make yours stand out?
Sharing an Ad or brand message
Remember when we used to say… “have you seen that new/weird ad on tv?”
I spent an entire childhood with either “I love Aeroplane Jelly” or the “Happy Little Vegemite” song stuck in my head. That’s how I used to ‘share’ it with others. People labored for days, weeks, YEARS over a catchy jingle for a brand to be instantly recognised, remembered and repeated. There was no scrolling past those ads with the sound muted.
Brands had to get you to use, wear, or sing their stuff in order for it to be shared with friends and family.
Can you think of a brand off the top of your head that leverages a jingle on digital today? We now instantly share images, videos, links to posts and content that catches our eye with friends, family and colleagues. Why do we share it? We share things that are controversial, newsworthy, entertaining, funny, interesting, helpful or something that makes us look good. We can’t help it…we want people to think we’re great. But because there is so much going around at any one moment, we have to be constantly on top of trends and newsworthy topics in order to stay relevant and interesting to our audiences.
Tailored and targeted advertising
Traditionally, it was tricky in advertising to create one message to spread to the world. There was no programming your roadside billboard to show your ad only when the right customers we’re driving past. Demographic targeting was limited to the type of publication and its geographic distribution area. You just had to hope that your ad would stand out enough to the right people. It was very difficult to qualify how well an advertisement performed.
Digital targeting is so precise it’s ridiculous. There is very little wastage online. Invite only your ideal customers to view your ads and study their reactions. The data we can pull from a single ad can tell you exactly where people came from, how long they stayed crawling the page and how they interacted with your ads. You’re not stuck with the same ad either! Change it up and test other versions as you wish.
The shopping revolution
Before Google, we didn’t know we wanted something until we saw it on TV, or in print, or our friend had one. We wandered aimlessly around shops made of bricks and if we would spot something we were interested in, we could learn more about it from an expert before we chose to buy. Sounds like hard work now doesn’t it?
We as consumers are now expert shoppers. We hold all the cards. First we conduct our research online, we compare products, brands and features; we shop around for the sweetest deal from hundreds of stores, and we can do it all within minutes. The convenience of purchasing online and having our goods delivered to our door is music to our time-poor techy ears. Who has the time to wander around the bricks and mortar store nowadays? Spending our money has become extremely quick, convenient and efficient.
We can even get distracted, completely abandon our trolley to do something else and rest assured the store will get into contact with us to complete our shopping. Brilliant!
Following people around (oops, we mean..tracking)
Remember the salesman quietly following you around the store while he pretended to dust the shelves? He was waiting for the perfect moment to step in and help you. He had been quietly practicing his pitch based on some of your comments to your friend. He was concerned about your concerns and soooo helpful.
Today, we do this tenfold and with great stealth. Our customers leave digital footprints all over the web for us…we get to follow them around and gently guide them towards a purchase based on their behaviour. We watch their reactions as we shove them down funnels and label it a ‘buying journey’. But are we remembering to communicate with our customers properly? Actually listen to their needs, thoughts and insights? Do we continue to look after them once they have become a customer?
Customer service isn’t easy when you may never actually hear the voice of a human. There comes a time when automation should step aside for some human interaction and personalisation. As a customer, do you prefer to feel like you are a person, or just another contributor to useful stats and data?
There’s Good and Bad, Human and Bot in all Marketing
Digital marketing represents a new era of advertising; but digital isn’t everything. The paradigm has well and truly changed, and as we continue to evolve as customers, so too will our advertising strategies. What else could possibly be around the corner? Well, the beauty of an industry only 20 years young is that there’s a lot of opportunity to innovate!
At Anchor, we’re lucky to enjoy a very mixed perspective with a great crew of varying vintages. Some of our senior staff find it curious the resources popping up for young marketers to teach them a thing or two about traditional marketing, and how they can incorporate these ‘old tricks’ into their overall strategies. At the end of the day, regardless of the age of the media, great advertising comes down to careful planning, communication, messaging, and creating meaningful bridges between a business and their customer.
You know the saying ‘opposites attract?’ Sometimes traditional and digital marketing just need to admit they belong together and get on with it!