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Essay: Traditional Advertising

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  • Published: 26 September 2022*
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  • Words: 1,238 (approx)
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Traditional advertising has been around ever since people invented the concept of ‘selling’. The first printed ads came out in the 1500’s, gradually followed by billboards, telemarketing and TV ads over the centuries. (Wainright, 2012). Whilst each of these initially emerged as challengers to contemporary methods at the time, their threats were not just seen off but assimilated under the grand umbrella of traditional.

Although the advent of the internet has seen traditional marketing methods slowly challenged by digital alternatives, but here are a few reasons why digital can never phase out traditional, but only hope to become one of the crucial components under the umbrella.

Universal Reach

The Ansoff Matrix, one of the most commonly used strategic tactics to grow market share, elaborates on the need to implement new advertising techniques which weigh up whether a firm is launching new products against whether they’re exploring new markets. Market development and diversification, in particular, are considered key ingredients and revolve around introducing current and new products respectively into new markets. (Tuff, 2012)

The latter part instantly rules out relying on digital marketing, owing to limited scope for execution. Why? Digital marketing is subconsciously associated with reaching more people, but this cannot be farther from the truth, since it heavily on the internet in order to reach people’s phones or laptops through emails, push notifications and website ads.

The global population is currently 7.8 billion. However, only 3.8 billion people have access to the internet, a number that barely accounts for 50%. Less than half of Asia (48%) and Africa (37%) have access to the internet (Statista, 2019). The numbers also paint a grim portrait in developing countries that present a lucrative target market for global brands.


% Internet Users (as of 2018)

China 54

India 38.8

Indonesia 32.6

Brazil 58.6

(Statista, 2019)

Falling outside this demographic are the vast majority of people who would be interested to consume your product, especially if you’re dealing in mass produced goods like food, clothes and most domestic products. if you’re a global brand, the most efficient way to tap into lucrative markets is to turn to the tried and tested methods like regional promotions, cable ads and print media.

Traditional methods, on the other hand, do not depend on something as fiercely as digital depends on internet. For instance, it’s not uncommon for entire villages in India or Brazilian favelas to gather around one single TV to catch global events, representing prime time advertising opportunities.

  • TV viewership for the cricket game between India and Pakistan was estimated at 1 Billion, with most of it in the subcontinent (Forbes, 2019)
  • Aided by the vast south american population tuning in, the World Cup final 2014 was viewed by a colossal 1.103 billion on TV. (Fifa.com, 2015)

“Profit Ability, the business case for advertising’ (2017)” by Ebiquity and Gain Theory, published the following hard hitting numbers about TV advertising

  • Responsible for 71% of total advertising-generated profit
  • Rakes in an average profit ROI of £4.20 per £ spent, ranking #1 amongst all media
  • Highly effective as a short term strategy too, driving 62% of all advertising-generated profit in the short term at an ROI of £1.73, again the highest of any media
  • Works effectively long term too. Has a 70% likelihood of providing viable returns over 3-6 months, rising to 86% over 3 years, making this the most effective low-risk advertising strategy.

(Ebiquity, 2017)

The IPA’s ‘Media in Focus’ (2017), by Les Binet and Peter Field, recorded the following findings

  • TV advertisements increase effectiveness by 40%, the highest of any medium.
  • Best medium to view tangible profit, with a 2.6% average market share point gained per year.
  • Weaving Tv ads into an advertising campaign led to a 40% increase in business effects during 2008–2016, a jump of nearly 28% from 1980-1996.

Binet and Field (2018)

TV and print outstrip online display in all efficiency categories, with only online video posing any kind of credible challenge.

Question marks over efficiency

Another common urban myth is that digital advertising optimizes efficiency. This widely accepted as a general consensus, but is way off the mark. Forbes ran a survey of global top 2000 companies and found that their digital marketing ROI was shocking. Basically, one in eight got it right and then there were ranges of failure to really whereby more than 50 percent just didn’t go right at all. In fact, the disparity between expectations and actual output was so enormous that it was considered a failure.

Although digital efficiency portrays a high success rate, most of it is misleading statistics papering over the cracks. Conversions, for instance, measure activity on a page rather than concrete clicks or follow throughs. Infact, internet users click on less than 1% of display ads, metrics calculated people scrolling past their ads or skipping video ads as part of their reach and effectiveness

A recent Microsoft survey even found that humans have an attention span of 8 seconds which, when combined with the vast volume of online content and ads people see, makes it likely your ad never even registered with the people who saw them.


This lack of efficiency and diminishing consumer attention has also affected niche brands. The digital marketing space has advanced rapidly over the last few years, leading to a gradual tipping point. There are too many players operating in similar markets, creating a congested scenario devoid of tangible product benefits and leaving customers unable to distinguish between products based on actual quality. Infact, a research showed that 89% of marketers expect user experience to be the main differentiator and plan to structure their marketing campaigns accordingly. (Gartner, 2017)

An elite brand looking to gain brand appeal and market share by catering to a niche audience will always stay away from such gimmicks in order to avoid compromising product quality. Vertu, for example, secures customer loyalty by offering exclusive memberships to red carpet events and members-only clubs (Vertu.com)

Apple, Google, Amazon and Netflix were among the top 6 spenders on out-of-home advertising methods last year, resorting to billboards to generate awareness.

Data Security Concerns

A majority of global consumers indicate a relatively high level of concern with the issue of online privacy, with an average of 74% across the 10 markets stating a degree of concern, 35% of people say they find personalized and targeted ads creepy, due to these methods using data consumers don’t give them directly. For instance, Target recently landed itself in hot water when it used shopping habits to predict a teen girl’s pregnancy and sent her relevant ads.

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytics scandal revolved around scammers posing as digital marketers to steal data from 30 million accounts, causing widespread condemnation and increased security concerns. A recent survey showed that 75% of people feel hesitant about sharing personal data online, and feel that personalized ads are creepy.

On the other hand, traditional methods are not considered intrusive since they draw the consumer to them rather than pop up all over their phones and laptops. For instance, the London underground sees 5 million journeys undertaken everyday. A recent survey showed that 65% of people didn’t consider this form of ads intrusive, and 7 out of 10 even said they actively seek out ads to serve as a distraction.

58% of people who use phones look at tube advertising, and one third actually use their phone to take notes on these ads, and this form of advertising saw high engagement levels that matched TV and surpassed online videos in terms of efficiency. In fact, four out of five people who did not like social ads said they did like ads on the underground.


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