When I started this business in 1989, we were advertising in five basic ways: TV, radio, outdoor, print, and direct mail. The “Internet” was just a gleam in Al Gore’s eye. The word “email” was simply a typo. And “social media” happened around the water cooler, the kids’ ball games and church potlucks.
And then came 1994.
That was a big year for Huebner Petersen. We bought our first office building. We were awarded the local chamber’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. And I logged onto AOL for the first time. Little did I understand—or did ANY of us understand—the eventual impact the Internet would have on nearly all of our daily lives. And specifically, the impact it would have on our business over the next couple of decades.
Just as radio and TV had squeezed their way onto the scene as legitimate advertising mediums decades earlier, the Internet was destined to do the same. The challenge for us would be to determine where the ever-changing digital marketing tools (SEM, social, online videos, web banners, etc.) fit into the overall media mix. And after nearly 20 years, it seems that the dust is STILL settling.
We do know this: traditional advertising still plays a vital role in brand building. Research shows that 63% of new car buyers, for example, begin their search for a new car with a brand already in mind. Where did they become familiar with that brand? More often than not through traditional media.
Traditional media is great at helping create familiarity with a brand and its differences. That familiarity results in trust. And trust leads to brand preference when other things are equal.
Can all of that happen with digital marketing? Yes, but it hasn’t yet reached the same level of acceptance by the consumer. A study done by Zussi Research claims that 69% of consumers say traditional advertising is relevant to them, versus just 45% saying online advertising was relevant. Surprisingly, among 25-34 year olds, the gap was even greater at 81% vs. 51%.
Do I think it will stay this way? No. In fact, brand-relevance-building exclusively online is already happening in many digital pockets. But for our clients, TODAY is what matters. And for now—until consumers generally view online advertising as more relevant than traditional—balance between the two will still be vitally important.
So what is that balance? Well, in light of the Morrill Study which concluded, “Advertising with adequate frequency can reduce selling costs by 10 to 30%,” we approach it this way: Let traditional media “warm” the consumer up to the brand so when digital media asks for the sale, the consumer says “okay!”