Why marketers are returning to traditional advertising

Digital marketing technologies and their ecosystems have dominated the growth of marketing budgets for over a decade. As consumers have shifted their focus from stationary media to perpetual media on the go, traditional advertising has lost some of its appeal. In turn, marketers have pivoted investments from TV, radio, newspapers, events and outdoor advertising to digital channels, from TikTok to TechTarget.

For the past decade, marketers have consistently predicted that their traditional ad spend will decline. According to data from the 28th edition of The CMO Survey, on average, marketers reported a decrease of traditional advertising investments of -1.4% between February 2012 and 2022, compared to one year increase 7.8% for overall marketing budgets over the same period.

However, recent evidence suggests that a change is afoot. Contrary to the historical trend, in August 2021 and February 2022, marketers expected traditional ad spend to grow by 1.4% and 2.9%, respectively.

Consumer-facing companies are leading the way, with B2C service companies predicting the biggest increase in traditional ad spend (+10.2%), followed by B2C product companies (+4.9%). Additionally, and somewhat ironically, companies that make 100% of their sales via the Internet are leading this inflection – predicting an 11.7% increase in traditional ad spend over the next 12 months.

So why is traditional advertising on the rise and will the trend continue? We see seven drivers behind the change.

1. Breaking up the digital clutter.

As consumers spend most of their waking hours online, they seem to be becoming increasingly desensitized to conventional digital advertising and engagement. They report frustration and a negative brand association with digital ad clutter that keeps them from reading an article, watching a video, or browsing a website. For example, a HubSpot survey found that 57% of participants disliked ads shown before a video, and 43% didn’t even watch them. As a result, marketers are looking for a way to reduce noise.

Traditional ads, on the other hand, are seeing increased engagement. MarketingSherpa reports that more than half of consumers often or always watch traditional television ads and read the print ads they receive in the mail from companies they are satisfied with. Indeed, Ebiquity’s research suggests that traditional media channels – led by TV, radio and print – outperform digital channels in reach, attention and engagement relative to cost. This performance gap is magnified as online advertising costs have risen, especially when taking into account impression, click and conversion fraud, while traditional media costs have fallen. It just makes economic sense to rebalance spending away from digital clutter.

2. Capitalize on consumer trust in traditional advertising.

The same MarketingSherpa survey found that the top five most trusted ad formats are all traditional, with customers trusting print ads (82%), TV ads (80%), direct mail (76%) and direct mail the most. radio advertising (71%). to make buying decisions. Similarly, he found that UK and US consumers trust traditional advertising such as TV, radio and print media more than social media advertising. As a result, marketers can use traditional advertising to build brand credibility and trust with jaded shoppers.

3. Prepare to refuse third-party cookies.

For years, marketers have relied on third-party cookies to track website visitors, using detailed data about their search preferences to improve user experience and target consumers with personalized advertising experiences. However, with Google phasing out the third-party cookie on Chrome browsers by the end of 2023 and Apple implementing changes to its iOS14 operating system, the death of third-party cookies is imminent. The CMO survey found that 19.8% of companies invested more in traditional advertising (outside of online approaches).

This inevitable shift in the advertising landscape will force marketers to rely on segmentation methods closer to traditional advertising models. Without advanced data-driven targeting, marketers will have to refocus on extending their reach.

4. Harness the growing support of podcasting.

Podcasts are a form of digital media. However, unlike the banners, displays, and other social ads that often appear in consumers’ everyday browsing, podcasts use an on-demand approach that is more like traditional radio. And that’s one of the reasons advertising succeeds. According to Ads Wizz, “Podcasts saw a 51% increase in available inventory, a 53% increase in new podcasts, and an 81% increase in podcast ad impressions.”

In addition to reaching over 100 million monthly listeners, podcast ads are effective because listeners trust their podcast hosts and are genuinely influenced by their recommendations. In fact, Edison Research’s 2020 Super Listeners study found that 45% of podcast listeners believe their favorite podcast hosts actually use the mentioned brands on their shows. According to the same study, almost half of podcast listeners pay more attention to podcast ads than to those of any other format. Given the match between the target market and the content of the podcast, podcasting has proven to be an effective way to bring a company’s brand awareness to a well-tailored and attentive audience.

5. Leverage digital rise of traditional media.

Digital technology can leverage traditional tools in powerful and surprising ways. For example, who would have thought that direct mail would be resurrected? That’s exactly what happened when shippers are paired with a QR code that consumers can scan to learn more. Additionally, like Madison Taylor Marketing sharing, unique URLs and QR codes allow marketers to collect extremely granular data, allowing them to develop robust marketing analytics around ROI and attribution, and erode the advantage of digital channels.

6. Brand and market fit.

Marketing is an art and a science of contingencies and context. This means that sometimes traditional advertising is perfect for certain brands, markets and messages. For example, TV broadcasting continues to provide an ideal platform for emotional narrative ads, like the clever Guinness “Welcome Back” ad that marked the reopening of pubs and restaurants following the Covid-19 lockdown. New addressable TV solutions, such as those from Finecast, now allow advertisers to precisely target viewer segments across on-demand and live TV, eroding the targeting advantage of online channels.

7. Revisit digital efficiency.

The CMO survey showed that 54.8% of marketers track digital marketing performance in real time, with an additional 35.2% doing so quarterly or weekly. At the same time, marketers are also becoming skeptical of hyped returns from digital media, as platforms control both ad inventory and the measurement of its effectiveness. This has raised credibility issues related to ad fraud and concerns that digital advertising may be far less effective than reported.

The digital promise of hyper-targeting and personalization is also being explored. For example, recent academic research by Jing Li and his colleagues published in the Marketing Review shows that retargeting can actually backfire if done too soon. And computer science research has shown that personalization can drive consumer backlash, especially when consumers are unfamiliar with the brand. In short, marketers are learning that the benefits of digital media can be a double-edged sword and are becoming more cautious about blindly adopting it.

Experts have long predicted the demise of traditional advertising. However, it is alive and well and heading for growth for the first time in a decade. When used together, traditional and digital marketing can reach more audiences, build and maintain trust, and drive purchase with consumers who might otherwise ignore marketing messages.

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