Traditional Marketing in a Digital Age

Digital, Marketing

Read Time: 8 Min

Digital media marketing tools are the leader and first choice among businesses looking to promote their brands or products. We’re living in a digital age — it’s practically impossible to survive without a phone or computer, and certainly, if you want to find out extensive information about a service or product, you’ll need to head to the internet. Most recently, attention has shifted to AI tools, and let’s be honest, they are pretty cool and they make life a lot easier when it comes to marketing. But, let’s not lose sight of the big picture.

We’re here to tell you: don’t discount traditional advertising even in this digital world. Traditional marketing ploys are ingrained in us, it’s nearly impossible to be rid of them altogether. In fact, sometimes traditional marketing is the better tactic, of course, this depends on your business, your audience, and your campaign goals. There is still room for print in marketing, although it is true that digital marketing provides more measurable, real-time results with insights we historically were not able to attain through traditional tactics. But what about both digital AND traditional? Let’s dig into it.

Is Traditional Media Dead?

Traditional media is another way of saying out-of-home, print, TV, or radio advertising. It’s terminology often associated with ‘outdated’ or ‘irrelevant.’

‘We’ve got streaming right?’

‘No one listens to the radio anymore.’

‘When was the last time I paid attention to an ad in the newspaper?’

These are the common phrases associated with traditional marketing, most consumers are on the internet now, so why bother with traditional?

What most people don’t realize is that Millennials and Gen Z are changing the narrative. They, more than ever, are spending the most time watching traditional television, or not paying full price for streaming and ending up with commercials anyway. Because they are connected to the internet simultaneously (via their phones or other devices) most people in younger generations don’t care about watching commercials. Our rising generation, Gen Z, are actually very likely to turn to traditional channels. They value authenticity more than many of the other generations and often turn to print messaging for a more ‘real’ experience.

So the answer is no, traditional media is not dead, its story continues.

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Traditional Channels Evolve Too

Digital avenues have of course grown over the years, we are constantly finding new and unique ways to reach our audiences in the place they spend the most time — the Internet. However, traditional channels also find new and creative ways to reach target audiences and are using the rise of digital to get creative. Let’s take a look at how you can utilize traditional marketing methods in your campaigns.

TV/The Movies

Millennials and Gen Z love to consume content. Whatever the form, as long as they are being entertained, you have their eyes and ears. Although COVID made moving-going less popular, more and more individuals are flocking back to the theaters. It’s a great opportunity to advertise. Still, most people are on Netflix or Hulu, but with the rise in streaming popularity, it’s now nearly impossible to own every streaming service without commercials. Like we said before, younger generations don’t care so much about commercials so most businesses can expect to reach that audience through traditional commercials. Older generations are also very likely to watch the news on traditional cable channels.

How can we make this work with digital advertising?

With the rise of social media, there is an important correlation between TV watching and engagement on social platforms. Social media is now a space for users to actively engage in dialogue about the show with other viewers. You can capture individuals or communities with interest in shows relevant to your business or product. (Ex. Lawyers and Suits)

remote pointing at streaming services


Radio is free. Nowadays, that’s enough to draw someone in. Sure, most people have Apple car play or other Bluetooth devices in their vehicles, but the radio is free and it isn’t going anywhere. Aside from being free, radio has the unique advantage of being local. It’s a great resource for communities to find out what’s going on, tune into local contests, or remain loyal to radio stations they may have been listening to for years.

How can we make this work with digital advertising?

Streaming services like Spotify or Pandora offer a nice blend of both traditional and digital advertising. You may buy a radio spot on either of these platforms and still reach audiences through accompanying banner ads.


Out-of-home can mean anything from billboards to bus banners to marketing collateral that can be distributed. To this day, this kind of advertising is one of the best for building brand recognition and brand loyalty. It’s impossible to go anywhere without taking a glance at a billboard or the signage on the inside of the subway. This type of advertising is also geographically targeted, so it’s easier for you to directly reach your intended audience (if they are local).

How can we make this work with digital advertising?

A study in 2019 found that 90% of U.S. travelers notice OOH advertising, and 65% of smartphone users take some type of action after noticing. People are watching! And they are intrigued by creative OOH advertising, even in the digital age. You can continue telling your OOH story on digital platforms to capture audiences who look to learn more on their phones. Some billboards are converting to digital methods, which opens another avenue for a digital/traditional crossover.

a nike billboard in a city with a cab driving by


Print is still very much in demand for individuals 45+. It’s not yet time to throw away traditional advertising in magazines and newspapers. Since there has been a decline in physical newspaper subscribers (there’s no denying it), the advertising space is much less competitive. Print can include brochures and other physical pieces of marketing collateral as well. This can be great for local businesses that may want to capture audience members who frequent community events or bulletins.

In the ephemeral digital age we exist in, people, especially the up-and-coming Gen Zers, more and more are expressing interest in physical things they can touch, hold, and own. With this knowledge, depending on your product or service, print advertising can still be a way to capture younger audiences too.

How can we make this work with digital advertising?

Magazines and newspapers are now more popularly viewed digitally, which offers a great opportunity for businesses to invest in banner ads or other forms of digital ads that can show up on these sites. This also gives you an opportunity to target geographically and by topic.

Consider Your Audience

We can’t say this enough: the success of advertising hinges on the ability of your business to identify, understand, and reach your target audience. Audiences should always be considered when thinking about how you’ll implement your marketing tactics. For many businesses today, digital marketing is the way to go. But, if you have customers who don’t respond to digital ads, then consider all of the traditional tactics we talked about above. Your target audience may be older, or less tech-savvy, maybe they are part of a low-income area or underestimated community who doesn’t have access to a computer or phone. Consider every angle.

Investing in Traditional Marketing Says A Lot About A Company

People are more likely to believe what they see in a print or TV ad than any ad they see on social media. If your company advertises through traditional avenues, people are more likely to trust your brand. In fact, according to an Insider Intelligence study held in 2021, the majority (46%) of respondents said they trust print and TV advertising the most. Traditional advertising shows that you care about your brand, that you’re interested in investing in a variety of advertising methods, and that you pay attention to the details.

Traditional advertising can help you establish a recognizable brand that connects emotionally with consumers. If they see your stuff in their everyday life (billboards, brochures, bus stops), they are more likely going to feel like they know you, understand how they fit into your story and want to interact with you. Sometimes getting lost in our phones doesn’t always feel like real life.

two men on a bus one is reading a newspaper one is reading his phone

Putting Traditional & Digital Together

It’s becoming more and more commonplace for audiences to receive messages from multiple places. It works. This insight was meant to convince you that traditional marketing tactics aren’t dead, not that you should only utilize traditional methods. You see, some say traditional advertising is a more passive marketing approach, whereas digital is more active. The use of both in tandem casts a wider net. You are more likely to reach a wider audience and still capitalize on the benefits of both digital and traditional marketing.

Hopefully, you’ve been inspired by this article to consider billboards, commercials, and radio spots for your next campaign. The possibilities for marketing and advertising in today’s digital world are endless. Thanks to the foundation of traditional advertising, and the future of digital, advertising continues to evolve, stay relevant, and keep us on our toes.

If you have any questions about traditional versus digital advertising and the services we provide in those areas, let us know! We love to chat about ads.

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