Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

Digital Marketing

So, you might ask, “what is digital marketing.”  The best way to explain  is to compare the differences in traditional marketing and digital marketing.

Traditional Marketing –  Newspapers / Magazines / Radio / TV


In traditional Newspapers and Magazine advertising ads are viewed by all readers regardless of interest. Yes – you can run ads in topic specific magazines and display your advertising within a specific section of a newspaper or magazine, but from a targeting perspective you are still casting a broad net.  There is no real way of gauging the impact of your efforts.

Radio and Television has similar targeting. Perhaps the most obvious attempt at targeting is a beer ad during a football game; there is no way to know if your ad is seen (fast-forward, kitchen or bathroom break). Unless the ad  has a number to call and “buy now” there is still no real way of gauging the impact of your advertising efforts.

Pay Models

Newspapers and Magazines

Newspapers and Magazines enable advertisers to display advertising to subscribers. In this model, you are paying for impressions. While based on verified subscriber numbers, publishers often inflate the impact of the publications reach by hyping the time the media is available. To justify or inflate rates they say a magazine will sit in a doctor’s office and be read by far more people than just subscribers.

Radio and Television

Radio and Television have traditionally billed based on audience ratings which estimates the viewership based on the show’s popularity, demographics and time of day.


Tracking in traditional marketing is unsatisfactory; relying on “controls” such as custom phone numbers, response cards, coupons, or one-off websites or pages that are often lost in the process. Many people sidestep those controls and call or Google, visiting the main website breaking any connection with the origin of the sale.

Digital Marketing – News Websites/ Forums/ Special Interest Websites/ Blogs/ YouTube/ Facebook / Streaming Media


Search Engines / Google / Yahoo / Bing /

When advertising in Search Results you are zeroing in on people actively looking for products and services. In the search you can use specific terms to home in on the stage of a sale, such as Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action.

If you are introducing a new product you can key off search terms that occur during the discovery phase. For example, if you are selling cycling shorts, you might want to display ads for searches for information on road bicycles or cycling helmets. However, if you feel there are people already looking to buy cycling shorts you might display ads for more specific searches for cycling shorts like “cycling shorts for men” or popular brands of cycling shorts.

Special Interest Websites / Forums / Blogs / Social Media

Traditionally these sites were for brand building (name recognition) and awareness efforts. Now, with targeting available you can:

  1. Zero in on the age and gender of the user and their geographic location.
  2. You can display your ads to specific websites, the content of a page, or by placing your ad within pages that contain words and phrases that are related to your products and services.
  3. You can also display your ads about the website’s topic or based on interests the reader has previously shown an interest in. This is important, because someone with an interest in bicycles may only spend a limited amount of time visiting cycling related content. This approach is proven to be especially beneficial when you are trying to introduce a new category of product to an audience. Suppose you have a new bicycling related service or product, by targeting people with an interest in bicycling you can casually introduce that group to your offering. This topic approach is also beneficial when displaying ads within a video.
  4. You can also retarget individuals that have visited your website as they view other websites. Retargeting (aka remarketing), lets you reconnect with people who may have stopped by but didn’t purchase the first time.

Let’s think about the beer commercial during the Super Bowl ad again. By targeting Websites, Forums, Blogs, Social Media, you can focus your advertising (ads?) on people who have visited beer related content and or are those actively engaged in beer discussions!

Pay Models for Digital

Pay per Thousand Impressions (CPM)

The pay per impression model still exists in a digital environment, but with a few modern-day twists. With Digital Marketing, you can get a real idea of the cost-effective of the effort. You can track impressions (how many times your ad was seen), how many clicks your ad received, and what they did once the prospect got to your website, including time on site, pages viewed, key page activity, phone calls and actual purchases.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Perhaps more desirable in the digital environment is pay per click (or PPC). That is to only pay if someone clicks your ad. Using this approach, you are only charged when someone is interested enough to click through to your website. This description isn’t 100% accurate, because ads with low click-through rates may be charged more per click than ads with high click-through rates, making the actual PPC rate close to a what a CPM rate might be.


With Digital marketing you can track the impact of your ad, identifying what websites and ads generated visits to your website and the actions prospects took while on your website. You can track actions such as, a click-to-call, visit to a key page, the number of pages viewed, and how much time they spent on your website. Because visitors are tracked (with cookies) we can trace actions days after the prospect’s initial interaction and how many other of our ads they were exposed to before the actual purchase. While tracking isn’t perfect (we have issues with off-line sales), we get direct feedback from our efforts that are a solid indicator of the campaigns that work and those that don’t.

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