A comparison between traditional and digital marketing

Every business needs marketing to increase sales.

The question is, should you invest your budget in traditional marketing OR digital marketing?

Allocating the appropriate marketing budget will make or break your company’s marketing campaign for the year and play a pivotal role in increasing your market share in the industry.

In this article, we will look at the major traditional and digital marketing platforms and provide an in-depth comparison for you to make an informed decision.

Let’s jump right in and go over each one of them.


The Ultimate Face-Off – Traditional Marketing Vs Digital Marketing 

old school vs new school of marketing

Much like the superhero movies you see on screen, we will pit each popular traditional marketing channel against the ones from digital marketing.


Top Traditional Marketing Platforms 

1. TV

2. Newspaper

3. Radio

4. Billboard

5. Direct Mail

6. Magazine

Top Digital Marketing Platforms

1. YouTube

2. Google Ads

3. Podcast

4. Facebook

5. Email

6. Instagram


Marketing Battle #1 – TV vs YouTube 

This is arguably the most interesting debate among all.

Both are BILLION dollar industry and command billion hours of viewership each day.

But here’s the sad truth for TV, with the rise of YouTube and Netflix, people are tuning in lesser to watch TV.

Statistics have even shown that the hours people spent on watching YouTube over TV has DOUBLED. We foresee this stat to only increase further in the coming years.

And when people do watch TV, here’s what happens….

When the commercials are played, we would be scrolling our phones and reading/watching other news (not the TV).

Due to this, ad spend on TV is becoming redundant with no clear-cut ROI!

Eventually, the big brands will realise this and allocate a higher budget to YouTube as people will need to watch the ad before watching their video on YouTube.

Before this happens, please allocate a higher video marketing budget on YouTube & Facebook, while the cost is still severely lower than TV.

Here’s a great article by Neil Patel on how to get started with YouTube Marketing.

Winner: YouTube, by a comfortable margin.


Marketing Battle #2 – Newspaper vs Google Ads 

The next battle will see newspaper going up against Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords).

Yes, the newspaper is still popular as people still read daily news on newspaper, and we still see plenty of ads in the newspaper.

However, the one major benefit Google Ads has over the newspaper is, Google ads are highly targeted to your ideal customer.

For example, let’s say you run a mattress company. With Google Ads, your ads would NOT be shown to everyone and would ONLY be shown to people who have demonstrated an interest in buying a mattress.

So if they go to Google to type in terms like “mattress for sale”, “buy mattress”, your ads will show up. And these are HOT customers who are ready to buy NOW.

On the flip side, you could advertise the mattress for sale on newspaper and take out an entire page (which is pretty expensive).

And the result? Plenty of people would see the ad, but they would flip the paper, and read the next news, as they are not in need of a mattress at the moment.

Timing of purchase is vital, and Google ads nail this component.

With Google ads, you are reaching your prospects at the right timing, where they actually want and need a mattress.

And to make this a no-brainer, Google Ads are also significantly cheaper as compared to newspaper, since your ad is not shown to everyone and only shown to people when they need the product. This will save you a lot of cash in the long run.

Here’s our ultimate guide to running an effective Google Ads campaign.

Winner: Google Ads, due to its buyer intent feature


Marketing Battle #3 – Radio vs Podcast

If you own a car, you will probably listen to the radio every day while on the road.

But could the radio be replaced?

Podcast is the next emerging digital marketing trend and could be the next major competitor to radio.

However, it’s still early days for podcast and it is still pre-mature to predict if podcast would surpass radio given the massive number of radio listeners.

However, here’s how podcast could win in the future:

When the majority of people start downloading podcast of their interest on the phone and listen to the podcast while driving instead of tuning into the radio.

For example, at Axcel Digital, we frequently listen to Marketing School and Digital Marketer podcast while travelling on the road.

By listening to their daily podcast, we can stay up to the date with the latest marketing insights and trends. However, not many people in Malaysia are doing this YET, as most people still prefer to tune in to listen to the radio.

If the attention starts shifting to podcast, companies will start allocating their budget from radio ads to podcast ads.

For now in 2018, radio is still the clear winner in terms of voice marketing, with podcast slowly emerging as the next big challenger.

Winner: Radio, clear-cut winner


Marketing Battle #4 – Billboard vs Facebook 

For Billboard, you would show the ads to everyone on the road.

However, there is no guarantee that car traffic is equivalent to the number of people who see your ad.

Before the mobile phone days, passengers in the car would still see the billboard as they are not distracted. These days, passengers’ attention has shifted the phone and the eyeballs on the billboard have declined despite an increase in the number of cars on the road.

As for the driver? When it’s traffic light, most drivers would pick out their phone from the pocket and check social media instead of seeing the billboard on display.

The closest billboard competitor right now in the digital marketing space is Facebook.

With the amount of data Facebook has on everyone, they can be creepy OR effective, depending on how you view it.

If you are putting these data to good use, you will generate a lot of sales for your business as the data enables you to target people who are more likely to be interested in your product.

Facebook’s huge database allows companies to target their ideal customers based on a person’s interest, behaviour, and even job titles!

Click here to discover the 5 proven Facebook marketing strategies (this will work for every business).

Winner: Facebook, due to its database for laser targeting.


Marketing Battle #5 – Direct Mail vs Email 

Direct mail still works as not many companies are utilizing direct mail to reach their customers.

This is a great opportunity for your business to start mailing to your customers and provide a personalised touch. The chances of them opening the mail are high, given the low volume of direct mail from companies.

As for email marketing, we are now constantly bombarded with emails and open rates for emails have dropped significantly as compared to 5 years ago.

With the low cost of entry for email marketing, the competition will only increase further and open rates will continue to decrease.

However, if you are able to consistently send out attention-grabbing headlines to trigger your subscriber to open the email, email marketing has the potential to be the best ROI marketing channel due to its low cost.

While direct mail and email marketing is not the best form of marketing, you should still allocate some budget for this as the cost is low and have the potential for sales at a higher margin.

Winner: Draw, both can work well.


Marketing Battle #6 – Magazine vs Instagram 

Magazine has become the old school of way of marketing. Think about it, when was the last time you bought a magazine?

Enter the next rising star, Instagram!

With Instagram, you can build trust in your product by leveraging on the influencers’ existing followers, where they have already established rapport and trust.

It’s human nature, once we like and trust someone, we are more inclined to listen to their recommendations. This is why influencer marketing has become one of the hottest marketing trends in recent years.

If your audience demographic is below 40, Instagram is a channel your company MUST be on as people below this age group are gradually spending more time on Instagram than Facebook.

The good news for companies is, influencer marketing is still underpriced in 2018 as most influencers are not aware of the price they could charge for each promotion.

The price for one post could range from RM100 per post to even RM100,000 per post, depending on the popularity of the influencer and post engagement rate.

Besides influencer marketing, you can run Instagram ads for a really cheap price in 2018 as large companies are still investing in magazine ads.

Our prediction is, the price for Instagram ads will eventually exceed magazine ads pricing and by then, smaller businesses will not be able to advertise on Instagram anymore when the price skyrocket.

Winner: Instagram, due to the impact of influencers and cheap Instagram ads.


The Case for Traditional Marketing 

1. Great for brand awareness if you have a big 6-7 figure budget per month.

2. Able to target certain older demographics who do not use the search engine or social media.

3. Able to target people who do not have access to the internet.


The Case for Digital Marketing

1. Target your ideal customers based on their interest, behaviour, and job title.

2. Obtain valuable data from your marketing campaign and able to segment the data for each audience demographics and location. You can then use these data to make the changes and increase sales.

3. Significantly cheaper than traditional marketing, and arguably more effective.



And that’s a wrap!

The debate on traditional marketing versus digital marketing will continue on for years. If you have the budget, definitely go for both to obtain a multi-channel approach.

However, the fact is, traditional marketing will eventually fade away and gradually be replaced by the digital marketing powerhouse such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

If you are just getting started with digital marketing, we recommend reading our compilation of digital marketing resources. We have categorised the topics into few sections for ease of reference.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below or email us at info@axceldigital.com