For the past decade now, marketing experts have been predicting the death of traditional marketing techniques. Everywhere you looked heralds of the digital marketing age wrote articles backed with research and predictive numbers foretelling an un-ignorable change in the marketing landscape. This widely popular rhetoric greatly fueled the rise of digital marketing and skyrocketed its adoption by businesses both large and small. In 2017 a study showed that the digital ad spend jumped to $209 billion worldwide (41% of the market), while TV ads reached only 35% of the market. Furthermore, digital ad spend is estimated to keep growing steadily in the next few years and is expected to reach 50% of the market by 2020.
Digital marketing is cheaper, has a high targeting capacity, and can be accurately measured at the click of a button. As such, it is going to put an end to traditional advertising soon…. So, they say.
Despite becoming engulfed in the shadow of digital advertising, it is important to recognize that some traditional forms of advertising have endured. In fact, some are still considered more effective than digital advertising for certain situations. Of course, to properly understand the mind-blowing, anti-quid pro quo line you just read, we need to consider the following facts:
A Canadian neuroscience study found that traditional advertising is easier to process mentally, and therefore is easier to retain and digest, in comparison to the bombardment of digital ad content we all receive daily. Adding to this, People don’t like aggressive digital ads. 91% of people say ads are more intrusive today than two years ago, according to HubSpot.
Clearly, despite the mainstream opinions, traditional advertising is very useful. But how is that? What practices were able to survive the digital tidal wave that hit us? To answer that question in a simple way, the traditional advertising practices that persevered are the ones that kept up with the level of innovation and creativity that seems to be inherent in the digital marketing world:
E3 is a perfect example of event marketing done right. This is an annual event wherein the best upcoming games, consoles and paraphernalia are showcased. Every year thousands of people pay to attend the event and large gaming company pay to market their products in the event. Last year 70,000 people attended this event and new consoles and games were either teased or announced, creating a huge buzz to gamers and investors around the world.
Direct mail is still very much in use and has a surprising success rate in recent years. Acording to the DMA (unfortunately fees apply to their content, so you’ll have to take our word on this one) Direct mail response rates suddenly rose in 2016 with a 5.3% response rate to house lists and 2.9% to prospect lists. These are the highest levels the DMA has tracked since 2003. While those numbers might not seem like much, if you put it into perspective, for every 100 pieces of mail a business sends out, they can get 5 to 8 customer interactions.
Because of its tried and proven effectiveness, large companies still utilize direct mail and in increasingly original ways like this miniature table, pop-up piece from Ikea which they used to highlight the simplicity of the product’s assembly and its physical features.)
Print ads / Billboards / Posters
The Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology at Bangor University conducted a study verifying that content in print triggers an emotional connection, and a deeper impression on the brain than a non-physical, digital message can. This study is very similar and supports the Canadian study mentioned above. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the study found that content delivered in paper form is more stimulating than content delivered in virtual or digital form. Here are a couple of examples of effective and stimulating print ads so you can see for yourself:
Durex advertising their new extra-large condoms
Chupa Chups showcasing their zero sugar lollipops
There are of course other traditional marketing practices still employed today, though they are less effective and on a definite decline, like sales calls. Sales calls have always suffered the reputation of a nuisance, especially when this technique blew up in recent decades. Furthermore, to add to the weight of the “nuisance” brand that sales calls have earned, we are currently seeing a pandemic of automated sales calls and cold calls that only serve as a detriment to this technique.
So there you have it, some examples of effective traditional marketing and one not so effective practice. All this being said, we need to ask ourselves: who knows? Maybe in 10 to 20 years we will indeed see the downfall of traditional marketing. But for now, the old ways are alive and kicking, and just like it has always been; if your content is creative, smart, and innovative, it won’t matter if you send it out on a computer screen or on paper, what matters is the passion you put into the work, digital or no.