Does traditional media still have marketing value in a digital-first world?

Jan 17, 2023
Does traditional media still have marketing value in a digital-first world?

Traditional marketing outlets are no longer a baseline for marketing strategies, but these methods haven’t disappeared. Rather, their practical applications have evolved. As businesses continue to shift into a digital-first world and our methods change accordingly, the ways we create impact tend to be reduced to accessible digital channels like paid marketing.

It’s clear, however, that consumers are still highly influenced by legacy marketing channels. Content is everything in the digital age, and traditional media like TV and radio are still effective for getting well-crafted content in front of consumers. However, utilizing traditional outlets will look different depending on the type of company you’re working with, whether that’s a scaled enterprise or a small business. As video and audio continue to perform exceptionally well in advertising, traditional marketing is still more than capable of making an impact.


Building your brand identity is what helps you increase your market share. For larger organizations that have developed or are developing a known brand, the challenge of traditional marketing comes as you cross a certain growth threshold. As you grow and expand your marketing channels, it becomes harder to track the immediate impact of your marketing dollars on traditional media.

Many big-name enterprises don’t lean into traditional marketing outlets until they reach a certain level. Airbnb, for example, had clear digital pathways to target consumers because people are always searching for services in their industry. The search parameters for someone looking for a vacation home are relatively predictable—a vacation/building style combination like “Panama City condo” or “New York loft”—and this created a clear pathway for Airbnb to target through digital marketing. As they grew, however, they had to shift their strategy to adopt traditional marketing methods to build their brand recognition.

Once a company offering services grows toward an enterprise-level business in this way, building brand recognition comes down to your ability to make sure people frequently hear your messaging. If you want to reach people outside of when they’re searching online and trying to use your service, you have to catch them outside of those digital parameters.


While enterprises with national brands seek household recognition after they’re established, you don’t have to be a national brand to benefit from traditional marketing. Local businesses have a more immediate need to connect with people, and their business depends on their ability to compete in small markets within their vicinity.

Any consumer tuned into local networks on TV can name a local mattress company or personal injury lawyer who dominates commercial time with over-the-top advertisements. They’re often intentionally cheesy because people remember how cheesy they are. Just by meeting their communities where they’re at during their leisure time, this type of branded content helps these local businesses reach all their target clients and dominate the market on the scale that matters to them.


Traditional marketing is more expensive and less targeted than digital advertising, but you can still drive sales with traditional media. With either business scale, understanding when and how to incorporate a balance of traditional marketing into your digital strategy helps keep your brand in customers’ minds. While measuring outcomes from traditional advertising outlets is challenging, you can alleviate that challenge by incorporating these channels with a clear concept of the metrics you will utilize to measure their impact.

Traditional methods are fundamentally creative, and there are plenty of qualitative metrics you can gather from consumers about how your brand is being received. However, by keeping watch on the release timeline of your traditional advertisements, you can collect hard data that will help you make more calculated decisions. If you consistently measure your number of sales, you can dedicate effort to comparing your sales in the weeks before airing a commercial to the weeks that you’re on the air. You might not be able to air 365 days a year, but you can track the impact and do a cost analysis to determine how effective these advertisements are for your business.

If you gain a data-informed understanding of your sales performance with traditional marketing channels, you know whether and how to lean in with well-branded content during critical business periods. With a robust cost analysis, you can determine a minimum spend and continue diversifying your marketing strategy.


I’ve always said that marketing is an inherently creative field, and there’s a massive creative side to what traditional marketing can look like for you. Whether you have an in-house team or need to find other creative minds to collaborate with, ensure you’re working with professionals with samples and a work history that you can vet. Be careful about being creative just to do something different—ensure that you’re being creative in a way that helps solidify your brand identity with the customer.

As you learn and grow your brand, you give yourself the bandwidth to scale to your desired extent. With the changes to how we leverage traditional outlets for marketing, the essential work for marketers stays the same. Our work still asks us to lead with creativity and empathize with our target audiences and reach them with the best content that connects them with our brands. If you haven’t thought about traditional marketing outlets in a while, consider it another frontier of opportunities for you to organically reach the people who will benefit most from your business.

Source: fastcompany