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Advertising in Digital vs. Traditional Media

August 28, 2020

Let’s break down the big differences between traditional media and digital media from an advertising perspective.

First, let’s define them both:

Traditional media is your classic TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and I would even throw direct mail in there.

Digital media is basically anything that’s online. So search sites like Google and Bing, social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, websites and blogs, email, and SMS all fall under the digital media realm.

The Power of Digital Media

From an advertising perspective, digital media is much more powerful than traditional media for two main reasons.

Targeting Capability

The targeting capabilities are vastly superior with digital than with traditional media. With digital media, you can target based on demographics, like gender and age, and you can also target based on what people are interested in or currently shopping for.

This level of targeting is extremely powerful, and it equates to very little wasted ad spend, which brings me to the second reason digital media is more powerful…


Digital media is extremely cost-effective because of the targeting capabilities as well as the fact that there is no minimum. Because the digital media ad platforms are self-serve, you can get started for as low as $3-$5 per day and scale your advertising efforts up from there as you see positive results.

The combination of targeting power and cost-effectiveness makes digital media very functional and very scalable for many businesses to implement. Because it’s true for every business, whether you’re direct-to-consumer or B2B, that your customers are online in some capacity. It’s our job as digital marketers to go and find which digital channels they are on, and which will be most effective for the business.

The Migration Away from Traditional Media

Traditional media, on the contrary, is not good for every business. The power of traditional media used to be in the programming capability – the shows produced and broadcast on television and radio and the content created for newspapers and magazines.

Today, people have migrated away from those channels. They are no longer watching classic TV or listening to the radio. They’re doing that all on their phones. Instead of radio, they’re listening to podcasts. Instead of watching TV programs, they’re streaming shows up on Netflix or watching videos on YouTube or TikTok.

Traditional media no longer provides a captivated audience. That’s not to say it isn’t still important, but it’s no longer important for every business. If you have your digital marketing strategy on lockdown and everything is humming along fine, and you sell a product or service for the masses, then bringing traditional media back into your advertising strategy and layering it on top of digital media makes sense. It will help you reach a mass amount of people and increase the rate at which your ads get in front of new individuals.

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