The Death of Traditional Marketing is Greatly Exaggerated

The globally respected market researcher, Nielsen, released a report in June 2011 that proved traditional marketing media in the US are growing at a healthy pace. Nielsen’s report, which you can read for yourself here, compared Q1 2011 ad spends to Q1 2010 ad spends. Here is what they found:

  1. Advertising in television grew by 9% to reach USD$18.8-billion
  2. Radio was second, growing by 6% to reach USD$1.6-billion
  3. Magazine advertising grew by 7% to reach USD$3.5-billion
  4. Newspaper advertising declined by 10% to USD$2.8-billion

And the industries spending most of that money? In order of total spend:

  1. Automotives
  2. Quick service restaurants
  3. Pharmaceuticals
  4. Mobile telecoms
  5. Motion pictures

‘So what?’, you might be asking. Well, consider this. Much of the recent marketing talk (more like a loud roar, really) in the news media has focused mostly on social media. Valuations of Facebook at USD$10-billion, LinkedIn’s IPO at USD$3-billion but growing post-launch to nearly USD$9-billion, and Google and Facebook mulling a takeover of Twitter, have all highlighted the marketing potential of social media. Why else would website companies be worth so much? Their only source of value is the subscriber data they make readily available to marketers who can use it to create highly cost-effective and very targeted marketing campaigns.

So why would traditional media ad spends increase by so much when powerful social media is competing with them for advertisers’ dollars? Traditional marketing media is less targeted than social media, and they don’t provide near-real-time tracking data that social media can. And yet, these companies are spending more on traditional media?

Look at the industries with the biggest spends. 80% of them are mature industries that are older than the Internet. These are industries that helped create contemporary advertising. They know what it means to engage in marketing. They virtually invented it. Why haven’t they jumped on the bandwagon and put all that money into social media?

The fact is, all of the biggest spenders in traditional marketing know something that the news media hasn’t yet made public. Smart marketers know that social media on its own will deliver only so many prospective clients. They know that social media is cluttered with hundreds of millions of people all broadcasting their own updates and brand preferences all at the same time. The clutter is made worse when you throw in advertising and contesting. Competing for attention is becoming tougher on social media.

They also know that, more than anything, the goal is to drive people to the company’s website where the company’s story can be told in greater detail, where trust can be built, and products can be sold. While it is possible to use social media for reaching out to customers, it is much more effective when you complement a social media campaign with traditional marketing methods. The traditional marketing media act as wide-cast nets, engaging and funnelling prospective clients into social media, and sending them on to the website or in to a store.

In short, traditional media makes prospective customers aware of you. Create enough interest, and they will go to your website to learn more about you. Do it right, and they will refer via social media friends and family to your company.

Online marketing has become an imperative inclusion in every organisation’s marketing toolkit. It is now, more than ever before, a strategic consideration that must be treated separately to advertising and promotion, and be given equal attention to all other marketing endeavours if it is going to achieve optimal results. As a component of an integrated marketing strategy, online marketing will achieve optimal results when it meshes with a traditional media campaign.

You can read more about it in our Clarity Paper, which you can download here.

To clarify: Social media and an online presence have a strategic role in any marketing plan, but they are far more effective when strategically integrated with traditional marketing media