The ultimate questions many marketers wonder – how do you balance online and offline media? Is traditional advertising still effective? I sat down with TEC Direct Media President, Chuck Fetterly, to get some answers regarding traditional and digital media and the things to consider when implementing them into your media plan.
Heidi: “Does traditional advertising still work? Does it have a place in the new digital world?”
Chuck: “Wow, those are big questions. Yes, traditional advertising still works. Absolutely. But let me ask you…when you’re coming to work every day on the train and you see interior ads – do you ever stop and think about the particular brand or service being advertised? Or when you’re walking down the street and you see an ad for a live show or event on a bus stop — ever go online and search for, or buy tickets? When you’re watching your favorite TV show and see an ad for a new clothing line – does it make you feel good and even want to buy it? Or how about when you’re listening to your favorite radio station and you hear an ad for the local car dealer who’s having an amazing year end sale and you’re in market for a new car – ever visit their show room?
Traditional still has a place. If you look at the statistics, several audiences can still be reached on major media like outdoor, TV and radio. We know traditional media ratings are declining and consumer behaviors are changing with cross-device consumption. But in large part, we think the pendulum is still swinging slowly. We know you can’t just reach an audience with an exclusive online or offline strategy. In most cases you need both. You need to think about all the different media channels available through an omnichannel marketing approach.”
Heidi: “What do you think are the similarities between offline and online media? What are the differences?”
Chuck: “Let’s look at the similarities first. In paid media, you have a creative ad unit, you have a format and environment for that unit, perhaps an outdoor billboard, TV screen or mobile screen. And finally, you have a form of distribution for the unit. All paid media share these qualities. When we consider a media channel, we look at these characteristics and then ask, how well does it reach the target audience? How can we measure it? How do we make sure that it ran properly? Regardless of the medium, we consider these characteristics and answer these questions.
I think the real big difference between online and offline media is the ability to target and reach a more specific audience online, or even, with Connected TV. The fact is we’re getting better at executing one-to-one advertising. Marketers are getting much better at reaching the type of consumer who’s either shown interest or might like a product or service. On the digital side, you have some interesting data to access to make your campaigns pretty effective. But I would argue you still need larger (bigger reach) media channels to drive awareness, which drives interest and online search.
Another big difference revolves around media validation. Can we confirm the media placement? How many people did it in fact reach? And did the ads work? Offline media can be monitored, counted and verified, but consistently connecting or attributing success can be challenging. On the flip side, when you take your ad dollars online, everything becomes transactional. I would argue you have an easier time with attribution, but monitoring, counting and verification are still very troublesome.”
Heidi: “What are the strengths of both?”
Chuck: “Let’s talk effectiveness. What does the advertiser think is effective? Are they trying to generate awareness around an event, product or service? Maybe they want to show a particular piece of video and they’re trying to get views in front of the right audience. That’s certainly something that we can measure and determine if we’re effective in doing that. Maybe another advertiser wants to generate leads for their sales teams. So, lead generation is an important goal and you can measure the effectiveness of this with what is called “attribution.” We can do that across online and offline media.
I think every medium has an inherent strength. TV’s strength is reach, radio offers high frequency. The same could be said with outdoor — both radio and outdoor deliver very good geographic targeting. I think the strengths of digital revolve around two things. One, control. We have more control to move in and out of various digital ad buys more quickly to deliver a better outcome. The second strength is targeting. Virtually all forms of targeting can be done with more precision vs. offline media.”
Heidi: “Is there a true way of balancing offline and online media?”
Chuck: “I think that depends on what outcome you’re looking for and what budget you have to work with. Everyone thinks they need a good mix of media to be effective, but that’s not always the case. For example, it’s not unusual for a client to come to us with a fairly small budget and a very specific need. It’s our role and responsibility to get them into that right media channel (or channels) to achieve that goal. Now with a more complex customer journey (and a sufficient ad budget) a good balance, aka “mix” of offline and online media, is probably necessary. You will need various creative elements to do a cross channel campaign and it would be our role to advise and suggest how a media budget is invested (i.e. 40% percent in channel 1, 20% in channels 2 and 3, etc). A good mix in today’s media landscape will undoubtedly drive some online activity, so be ready. Before a dollar is invested, we are telling clients how things work together and what to expect. In the end, there is no secret formula.”
Heidi: “Speaking of %’s, are there percentage guidelines you follow and implement into media plans?”
Chuck: “Depends on who you ask (laughter). If you asked a seasoned media planner, they might suggest a certain GRP (gross rating point) level that a plan needs to have to be effective. They’d plug their plan into Telmar or other planning software and also determine the reach and frequency. It would show an allocation of budget (with percentages). This is certainly the older, but still widely accepted, method of planning. Today, with more active media management, we may begin with such a plan (with recommended %’s), but then actively shift and move media dollars in and out of specific investments to achieve better results. As more media channels get into programmatic buying of ad time and space, I think we’ll see an end to some of the older methods of media planning.”
What are some issues your company has when it comes to balancing traditional and digital? Let us know!
Did our reference to Connected TV peak your interest? Check out a recent blog post here to learn more.