Adapting Traditional Media for Success in the Digital World

By Laura Krogstad, Media Director

July 29, 2014

Mobile, video, social media…it’s all we seem to hear about these days. Digital is where it’s at, right?

But what does that mean for traditional media? Does it still work? Has it lost its edge? How do modern marketers marry new media with old?

More and more of our media department resources are spent on the digital aspects of our clients’ campaigns. A higher percent of budgets are going to digital, and more of our time is spent analyzing, planning and buying it.

However, traditional still plays a key role in our media strategies.


Because consumers are still spending the majority of their time with traditional media outlets. A recent Nielsen Cross-Platform study revealed that while new media is certainly picking up steam, TV and radio usage still dwarfs everything else. Traditional media can also be the right choice based on media objectives and target audience.

But that doesn’t mean we marketers can get comfortable, clinging to the traditional media we’ve always known. Another thing that’s changing is the way people are consuming traditional media—for example, the devices they’re consuming it on and the times of day they’re consuming it.

The question is, given all these influences, how can the savvy marketer find success with traditional media in the modern world?


Out-of-home advertising

Consumers spend more time away from home than ever before, so although out-of-home advertising is considered a traditional media outlet, it’s hotter than ever.

Out-of-home has evolved beyond your traditional billboards to reach people almost anywhere, whether they’re at the beach, strolling downtown or in the gym. Virtually anything can become ad space, from buildings to buses to subway walls, making the possibilities for creative out-of-home advertising literally endless.

In addition to changing up delivery methods, media planners can also now use digital out-of-home advertising to deliver tailored creative based on the time of day, the day of the week or even the current weather conditions, making this advertising method more relevant than ever before.

Out-of-home can also be used to inspire social media conversations (you’ve no doubt seen a billboard with a hashtag on it) and to drive people to their mobile devices. Not only does this make the ads more relevant, but it’s more engaging for the audience and, from a media planning perspective, it offers a new way to track and measure results.



There are a handful of modern habits that influence the way we should be thinking about TV as an advertising platform:

  • People are often looking at more than one screen when viewing TV (specifically, they’re using their phones or tablets while watching).
  • There’s more time shifting, thanks to services like DVR.
  • A wider variety of entertainment options lead to more fragmented viewing.
  • Many people, especially millennials, are watching TV online.


Despite all this, we know that TV advertising still works. In fact, TV remains the most influential medium in purchasing decisions—51% of adults say that a TV ad has prompted them to go online and further research a product.

Similar to out-of-home advertising, one of the most important ways to modernize TV ads is by incorporating digital redirects. You want viewers to be going online to your brand website, checking out your Facebook page and tweeting with your brand after seeing your commercial.

Another way we’ve tackled the challenges above is by purchasing local news spots when it makes sense for the target demographic. This allows us to reach a more captive audience while working around the DVR issue. It also saves us money, which can be redirected to digital efforts like online video.



The biggest change to radio has been the introduction of online radio listening, in addition to satellite radio.

A recent study shows that the majority of Americans 12+ now use online radio, and that the availability of this alternative listening method has dramatically increased the amount of time people spend listening. Obviously, this represents a huge opportunity for modern media planners.

One way we’re currently recommending radio advertising is to reach athletes, who listen to the radio on their smart phones while training.



Print is still a well-established media format, but we’re seeing more and more digital versions of print publications cropping up. Magazines and newspapers can be read online, newsletters are turning into e-newsletters, and we’re seeing a lot of traditional print publications, such as white papers, being offered digitally in exchange for lead information.

Not only does the digitization of print make this information more widely accessible, but it also presents many more sophisticated advertising options. This, in turn, enables marketers to do more specific audience targeting and to generate more measurable results.

That said, there is still plenty of room for traditional print publications out there, particularly in the B2B realm. For B2B, print is still the #1 way to find information about companies and relevant services.


Putting the pieces together

Ok. So new media is great, and traditional media is great, but how can media planners most effectively coordinate the two?

Unsurprisingly, the answer is: lots and lots of research.

Who is your target audience and what’s important to them? Where do they go to get their information? What influences their purchase decisions? What are their media consumption habits?

What are you trying to accomplish with the media (media objective)? What is the best time to be out there with the message (timing)? How much money do you have to work with (budget)?

Does the creative execution work across different mediums? What is the competition spending, and where and when are they spending it? What are the success metrics?

As we plan and buy media, we can no longer afford to look at traditional separately from digital. These elements are more intertwined than ever before, and we need to be continually on the lookout for opportunities to connect them in order to take full advantage of the modern media environment.


What are some ways you’ve adjusted your approach to traditional media for success in the digital world?


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