The Death of Traditional Advertising

In just a few years, the advertising industry has changed dramatically for the better - for advertisers and consumers alike.

David Soffer ,

Online advertising is the only way to go
Online advertising is the only way to go

Every industry has the need to move with the times and current trends. For example, very few people go out of their way to dress like they are in the 1950s, and food manufacturing companies are making their products healthier due to a change in attitudes towards food. Then there’s the fastest moving and most changeable of industries; technology. From mobile phones to televisions and even items of clothing, technology is moving faster than any other industry. What’s more is that more and more technology is being used across the spectrum in various other industries.

Take advertising for example. Gone are the days of bombarding a target audience with a man shouting slogans and instructions which are supposed to drive sales. What is becoming increasingly apparent is that nobody has the time for badly thought through advertising campaigns and a voiceover telling you to buy a product you don’t even need via the ‘traditional’ advertising routes of TV, Radio, Billboard and Print.

Who stops when they see a billboard with a large advert? Who isn’t frustrated that a 5 minute commercial break interrupts their favourite radio station?

The truth is this: traditional advertising certainly had its uses and to an extent still does, but when it comes to driving sales rather than brand awareness, and engagement rather than just ‘being noticed,’ online and social media are superior.

Rather than paying huge amounts of money for an advert in the middle of a popular television programme, online marketing and well thought through uses of social media are far superior. Do people even watch the adverts that come on every 15 minutes or so during their chosen programme? The answer is probably not. It has been well documented that during the commercial breaks of the FIFA World Cup, water pressure across the UK dropped. This was a result of the amount of people filling their kettles and using their toilets as the advert breaks came on.

However, online advertisement campaigns target users in a much more focused way. Rather than casting a very wide net (as is the case with TV and Radio advertising in particular) and hoping that a few people are drawn in enough to drive sales, online marketing typically targets people based on their search and history and browsing habits. Internet browsers and search engines use ‘cookies’ to track a users’ usage and then target them with relevant adverts.

This means that the adverts users will come across online are much more relevant to them. Furthermore, rather than showing adverts of products a user has already bought or searched for, cookies ensure that ‘relevant’ rather than replicated products are shown. For example, if someone has been searching for particular blends of coffee beans online, rather than showing adverts for more coffee beans, adverts for things like mugs, coffee grinders and coffee experts will likely be shown. With relevant adverts tailored to each user, the advertiser can corner their target market and really focus on them, rather than everything besides.

Moreover, to create even the most bespoke, high quality online advertising campaign is significantly cheaper than an equivalent TV or Radio advertising campaign. For example, a 30 second advert during the final of the 2014 X Factor in the UK, cost £100,000 – £150,000. At the end of the day, how many people went out and bought the products advertised in this timeslot?

In contrast, a top quality online campaign can cost less than £10,000 while providing far greater reach to a more specific, more relevant audience.

When it comes to tracking user behaviour and engagement with a brand and its advertising campaign, once again, online advertising reigns supreme and is much cheaper. In the case of traditional advertising, such as TV, Radio, Billboard and Print, whoever has commissioned the advertisement(s) would have to pay a market research company to research the likely audience and then go out and harass them with surveys, which in itself only has a limited degree of accuracy.

However, online marketing is monitored via the number of clicks and the amount of time spent on a particular page. Conclusions can be made from these statistics and future campaigns improved. In short, online marketing and advertising campaigns afford far more targeted reach, a higher degree of reliability and fewer restrictions, such as a specific timeslot as is the case with TV and Radio advertising. Once the data is established, a company providing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and digital marketing services can be brought into play to create bespoke content for a target audience in future, and so the cycle goes on; using data and accurate analyses of user behaviour, leading to more effective advertising strategies.

However, all this is not to say that Radio and TV advertising don’t have their uses. Massive brands in the UK such as Coca Cola, Cadbury’s and John Lewis all use TV adverts to build and develop existing and new campaigns. After all, for a company of the ilk of Coca Cola, £100,000 or so for a TV advert is a small price to pay for the millions of bottles of their drinks bought every year. A great example is Coca Cola’s annual Christmas campaign. Coca Cola in effect bring Santa Claus to millions of households every year with their Christmas campaigns. Then there is John Lewis, who have been providing so many of us with that feel good factor that Christmas brings year after year. This route of advertising does wonders for the awareness of large brands, but does little to drive sales.

In conclusion then, rather than throwing thousands of pounds at creating, developing and acquiring adverts in the traditional way, more and more brands and companies are turning to creative agencies and SEO consultants to combine, allowing their brand to be found online and engaged with at every opportunity. With technology changing and progressing and increasing numbers using it to solve all of their problems, traditional methods might just have had their day.

David Soffer is a consultant at Tudor Lodge Consultants (@David_Soffer)

Tudor Lodge Consultants are a Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) consultancy, based in London, helping brands and businesses realise their true potential.