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December 8, 2022 Azzanea Ahmad

Digital Advertising vs Traditional Advertising: Which is Better?

In this entry, we will look at how digital and traditional advertising play different but (definitely) important parts in growing your business. 

The big question is, should you focus on pumping your budget for digital or traditional advertising? The bigger question you should be asking is when to opt for digital advertising and when to look at traditional advertising to push your business further in the market.

So, this is what you will find in this article:


What is Digital Advertising?

Digital advertising is a form of advertisements being generated through and in the digital world. These types of advertisements are very familiar to us because we see them daily on our mobile phones and computers.

Types of Digital Advertising

  • Social media advertisements
  • Clickable advertisements
  • Email advertisements
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Affiliate partnership
  • Search engine marketing
Image by upklyak on Freepik

Digital advertising is a form of advertisements being generated through and in the digital world. These types of advertisements are very familiar to us because we see them daily on our mobile phones and computers.

Types of Digital Advertising

  • Social media advertisements
  • Clickable advertisements
  • Email advertisements
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Affiliate partnership
  • Search engine marketing

What is Traditional Advertising?

Image by upklyak on Freepik

Traditional advertising is a form of advertisement that exists outside the realm of the Internet. This is what we refer to as “old school” forms of advertising that our parents or even grandparents are highly familiar with.

Types of Traditional Advertising

  • Billboards
  • Television and radio advertisement
  • Newspaper advertisement
  • Mailing and magazine advertisement
  • Transportation wrappings
  • Phone calls and text messages notification

What are the Differences between Digital Advertising and Traditional Advertising?

In order to know which method of advertising fits your business needs, you need to understand what their characteristics are.

Highs and Lows of Digital Advertising

Digital advertising creates higher engagement rates

In the digital era, the line between brands and consumers slowly began to blur because, through a platform like social media, consumers can easily react to the things you are advertising.

From the part of the business, you can easily determine whether what you are putting out there fits the bill for your audience or the opposite. You have a better understanding of your customer’s needs.

Digital advertising is very robust and dynamic

Sometimes what you plan during your preparation stage can come out differently due to the changes in data, intent or campaign direction altogether. 

Digital advertising is dynamic in that any changes can be executed within a reasonable period without much repercussion apart from your audience feeling like a glitch in the matrix when they see your ad for the second time in a different light.

The digital platforms are very robust and allow business owners to tweak their ads while the campaign is still active without much trouble.

Digital advertising gives accurate data to measure your campaign’s performance.

Digital advertising data and results are measurable 

The key to winning the advertisement race in the digital scene is…data.

Digital advertising gives business owners the data to measure their success rate or return of investments to their businesses. Your data provide further insights to improve your next campaign and even create extensive forecasting to present to your stakeholders.

Although data protective measures are implemented search-wide to protect individual privacy, it is still producing close aggregated results that help marketers get the desired results. 

From the data, they are able to create calculative measures on how much they need to spend, how many their losses are and how big their revenues are in return.

Digital advertising is limited to the targeted audiences

Digital advertising may be dynamic in its execution, but it lacks the ability to reach a broader audience.

Not everyone in the world is inclined to use the Internet on a daily basis, and although the percentage is lower compared to Gen Z or Millennials, it still puts a dent in your reach.

Businesses will miss the opportunity to create larger brand awareness when it only covers a certain part of the population. For small businesses starting out, the competition from larger businesses in the digital scene will be tight.

Digital advertising has a low attention rate that could borderline annoyance

Due to the emergence of spam that is both a nuisance and malicious at times with phishing attempts, general Internet users are wary when it comes to unknown advertisements or links being sent to them.

The victim of this unfortunate event is you.

When doing an email marketing campaign, you could put the well-crafted email you created through sweat and tears to end up in the trash folder before it could see the light of day.

If not that, social media users have a limited attention span when it comes to seeing something they are unfamiliar with or when the content does not align with the reasons they went onto their social media platform in the first place. Because of this, social media ads could go unnoticed or skipped through altogether.

Highs and Lows of Traditional Advertising

Traditional advertising reach through all the masses

The wonders of using traditional advertising are that the newer generations are familiar with it and the older generations are (somewhat) loyal to it.

Billboards and wraps on cars, buses and trains allow brands to build their awareness in a much more natural way that catches people’s attention for a split second. 

The human memory system can capture even the smallest signal that could be remembered for months.

That is why even when driving on a highway and seeing a huge billboard of an unknown brand, we would still recall it the next time we see something similar or come across their new version of the advertisement. It gives us that “This reminds me of…” or “This looks familiar” feeling.

Traditional advertising lets you reach a broader audience across all generations and ages.

Traditional advertising lasts for a long time

Whenever you engage with an offline advertisement campaign, the duration of its placement will usually be no less than three months. It can even be contracted for a whole year under certain circumstances.

We can still see the same radio or television advertisement for months at one point. Take the analogy of studying for a test; the more you read about it, the more likely you will understand and remember it.

In this case, the more you see it, all your human senses will log it into your system, and you might be inclined to be interested in it, one way or another.

Traditional advertising could not generate revenues

It is especially hard to measure how much conversion one traditional advertisement campaign generates because there is no substantial data we can refer to.

Most business owners or marketers look to the traditional advertisement as a method to build awareness because awareness does not equal profit, thus that KPI can’t be quantified.

Whereas, if the objective is generating sales or returns of investment in particular, the means of using traditional advertisement to do so will be hard to justify.


How to Choose Between Digital Advertising and Traditional Advertising?

You will probably get no answer in the debate about whether digital or traditional advertising is better because both work for different circumstances.

The success rate for either direction depends on your objectives.

Traditional advertising will do the trick if your business aims to reach a large audience to kickstart your awareness campaign. Still, digital advertising will be best if you are aiming to make sales.

It is not a matter of using digital advertising alone, but it is a combination of both. You can still build awareness with digital advertising combined with traditional advertising. You can also make sales from traditional advertising with the help of digital advertising.

If you are just starting up and have a small budget to plough through, digital advertising can help optimise your spending and still achieve your objective. SEO, social media and newsletter advertisements take little spending compared to a single television or radio advertisement deal. 

Final Thoughts

This may come across as a letdown because the answers you are looking for are not one way or the other.

Don’t look at digital and traditional advertising as something you need to use one and only one. You have to equip them in unison that fits the criteria of your objective.

Identify your purpose and compare the two that should take the lead and supplement the effort to generate the expected results you want.


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