Traditional Media is Not Dead

For the past several years, media writers have touted the massive exodus from traditional to digital media. Marketers have gone from adding digital to the mix, to digital-first, to digital-only thinking in some cases. This post looks at modern use of traditional media in B2C and B2B applications, and encourages marketers to re-imagine their traditional/digital media mixes to result in more effective marketing plans.

Trends Show that US Digital Ad Spending will Surpass Traditional in 2019

According to eMarketer’s latest forecast for 2019, for the first time, digital ad spending in the US will exceed traditional ad spending. They predict that US digital ad spend will grow to $129.34 billion in 2019—More than 52 percent of US ad spending overall.

According to eMarketer, traditional ad spending share will drop to 45.8 percent in 2019 from 51.4 percent a year ago. They predict that Directories such as Yellow Pages and print (newspapers and magazines) will both decline nearly 20% and will lead the exodus from traditional marketing spends.

B2B Marketers Are Loving Traditional Media

For many B2Bs, especially those in sales-heavy organizations, traditional marketing tactics like one-to-one personal emails/calls to prospects are still working. Again sourcing a 2019 eMarketer article, we learned that as a group B2B marketers rely far more heavily on traditional media, taking up only 4.6 percent of the total digital ad market spend. B2B marketers that are using digital tend to add-on programmatic, Google/Search campaigns, and retarget ads.

But, there are plenty of opportunities for B2B marketers to to re-imagine traditional media tactics with a digital twist. Successful B2B marketers are bringing new trade audiences to their existing blog content and land/offer pages with digital trade media products. Marketers are buying digital ads to supplement print with B2B trade publications, most of which pre-segment their audiences and have many high-quality digital outreach and lead-generation offerings available, including proprietary email blasts, webinar partnerships, white paper downloads, etc.

What’s the Outlook for B2C Marketers?

B2C marketers should note that TV/Cable ad spending is still at $70.83 billion out of a $249 billion total spend, and will only decline, according to eMarketer, -2.2 percent in 2019. The slight decline might be in large part due to having fewer big viewership events in 2019. While the Women’s World Cup Soccer will pile on viewers, in 2019 there are no major elections it’s a non-Olympics year.

Amazon’s TV spend is up 290% to 35 million for the 2018 holiday season. -Kantar Media

It’s not a coincidence that Amazon, the fastest growing digital platform, increased its spend in traditional TV media dramatically at the end of 2018. By the way, Amazon as a US digital ad platform rich with shopper data, is putting ads on the very distribution platform where so many American’s buy, and is taking ad spend share from almost all traditional media providers.

Integrating Digital and Traditional Media in B2C Marketing

With impressive new digital offerings like over-the-top -of-cable-box (or OTT) and more, B2C marketing advertisers are clearly turning to digital media to get incremental gains in reach and tonnage, But, traditional media has much to offer and here are some ways marketers might consider integrating more traditional media:

  • If you haven’t included traditional media such as broadcast/cable television into your mix in a while, consider adding it back in, particularly if you need mass awareness that still gives marketers options for more targeted tactics
  • Traditional spot radio buys are still very effective, especially if marketers also take advantage of inventory those stations offer in online streaming radio
  • Out of home advertising has new offerings to consider. It may be smart to blend traditional billboards with digital boards. Consider also that all those digital boards can synch up with digital messaging on transit shelters, airport advertising and more. Traditional boards can deliver awareness, and synched digital offerings can feature codes that consumers can use their mobile phones to access.
  • When using traditional media. add tracking phone numbers and other trackable CTAs to close the loop on your analytics, and better understand where your leads are coming from.
  • For non-direct-response media, monitor web traffic and sales funnel activity when new messages/campaigns start to better understand the impact of the campaign.

Consider These Campaigns that Very Memorably Integrated Traditional and Digital Media features 15 great examples of integrated—traditional and digital—B2C campaigns. For example, remember Old Spice’s “Smell Like Man” campaign? Here is a success story based on integrating television, great videos and social media for a robust mix of traditional and digital marketing.


Reimagine and integrate traditional and digital media for media plans that are more effective.

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While anyone can make a call and place an ad, serious media planning should be handled by experienced specialists. Our clients depend on us to provide thoughtful recommendations and to negotiate hard on their behalf for price, placement and added value.

Bruce Downing

Bruce Downing

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