Removing Rivalries: How to Work With Traditional Advertisers

commercials, DOOH, partnership, traditional marketing

April 25, 2017 by

Editor's Note: Tom Alexander is a digital marketing veteran, who joins us today to discuss how digital marketers can join forces with traditional advertisers to create better marketing campaigns.


The alleged animosity between traditional advertisers and digital marketers has become almost legendary. We hear blow-by-blow reports of what appears to be intense opposition, each side fiercely clinging to their fundamental elements in death grips. It’s wonderfully heady stuff, but the ongoing nature of this battle may be more fiction than fact. As marketing becomes more integrated, the challenges that once separated these would-be rivals are bringing them closer together.

To understand the present relationship between traditional advertisers and digital marketers, we need to revisit the past.

Before the current advertising ecosystem, traditional advertising was a mainstay, from billboards, TV spots, magazine and newspaper spreads, to radio advertisements. However, with the advent of the Internet, digital marketing has taken away the spotlight with email marketing, social media, blogs, web banners, and paid targeted advertising. Some digital evangelicals went so far as to eulogize traditional marketing in the 1990s.

As we see today, these were premature pronouncements. Traditional advertising is still alive and well, and when used in conjunction with digital marketing, the results can be beautiful.

Changing to a Collaborative Mindset

Digital marketers and traditional advertisers aren’t fundamentally different. After all, they have the same goal: help companies achieve their objectives. Working hand in hand, they have the ability to enhance traditional methods of advertising by integrating digital marketing strategies. This is a natural evolution that ought to be considered an advancement, not something burdensome or invasive.

Consider digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising which targets consumers who spend a lot of time away from their homes. Out-of-home advertising providers that moved toward digitization have been able to drive increased revenue streams thanks to their foresight. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, DOOH is expected to almost double its 2014 revenue figures by 2019. DOOH started in the realm of traditional media, then evolved into digital forms. Ultimately, it offers a mutually beneficial relationship for all its players, without negating at-home advertising on traditional platforms.

What does this mean for advertisers and marketers? The responsibility lies with them to create positive change by working together when possible.

Ways to Develop Digital-Traditional Bonds

Embracing any new habit takes patience and planning. The best practice for creating a partnership between digital marketing and traditional advertising is to spot key opportunities for the benefit of clientele, and follow those opportunities down various rabbit holes.

The following seven ways to foster digital-traditional ties are excellent starting points:

1. Explore successful traditional-digital campaigns.

Research begets epiphanies. Find and analyze examples of successful traditional-digital campaigns.

Want a clue? Start with “Share a Coke,” the 2016 phenomenon that was a huge hit for the soft drink behemoth. Coca-Cola added names, messages, and hashtags to its packaging, encouraging purchasers to share their Coke with the world via social media. Twitter blew up in a positive display of brand-building and loyalty. All aspects of the marketing ecosystem worked in tandem to drive consumers toward simple yet powerful actions.

Each amalgamation of digital-traditional you uncover will give you greater insights into clever ways you can incorporate both strategies into your campaigns.

2. Consider traditional advertising as a way to complete your message 'spread.'

If you only focus on digital advertising techniques, you will miss the chance to maximize your message’s journey across all platforms. Spread your message through various traditional channels, reaching all the consumer nooks and crannies. Exposure is still the name of the game, regardless of the decade.

After blanketing all possible markets using a combination of traditional and digital, you can then lightning-focus on digital messaging and build relevant, personalized relationships.

3. Think in terms of a two-way street.

A two-way street allows you to turn around and go in the opposite direction when needed. The same should be true for digital marketers and traditional advertisers.

Although traditional does tend to be used at the front end of campaigns, it shouldn’t be abandoned like Hansel and Gretel in the woods. Leave some crumbs so consumers can double back to traditional advertising platforms for a thorough, harmonious marketing mix.

4. Keep your eye on the prize.

Instead of grappling with the “is digital or traditional better?” puzzle, put it aside to focus on metrics like your return on investment and sophisticated key performance indicators.

Use those measurable goals to drive your advertising and marketing choices, not the distribution vehicles. Additionally, keep testing, testing, and testing using emerging data science tools. By taking an objective stance, you can quickly remove biases and make the right decisions for the health of any campaign, no matter what medium it lives on.

5. Have honest conversations about digital-traditional.

It’s OK to talk about digital marketing and traditional advertising in an open forum; in fact, it’s essential for collaboration and cross-pollination.

Instead of labeling any platform as “old-fashioned” or “ultra-modern,” talk about all possibilities as viable until proven otherwise. Foster chats among team members and add weekly debriefings to your schedule to generate an environment where people feel free to fluidly discuss options and opinions.

6. Develop winning formulas.

Being at the forefront of your industry is a privilege that grows from productivity and efficiency, not to mention the ability to know when a campaign is failing miserably.

When you hit on winning formulas, seize them, even if they're not exactly what you predicted they'd be. Figure out why a particular traditional-digital mix worked, and repeat it to further your — and your clients’ — success.

7. Work collaboratively with influential publishers.

High-value publishers may operate in both the traditional and digital worlds. For instance, the Wall Street Journal has a thriving online presence alongside its paper format.

Work with the publisher influencers who can drive the most revenue and become key partners. They may provide interesting insights into methods you never considered that merge traditional and digital seamlessly.

At the end of the day, remember that this isn’t the historical clash between the Hatfields and the McCoys. Traditional advertisers and digital marketers might not be ready to walk down the aisle, but they should at least be willing to share a cup of coffee, figure out how their commonalities can unite, and determine how their differences can be complementary. By identifying and merging their strongest attributes, they have the power to create engaging campaigns for a contemporary audience.

About the Author: Tom Alexander is founder and CEO of PK4 Media, an omnichannel media company located in El Segundo, California. With more than 13 years of experience in digital advertising, Tom has a keen understanding of the industry and the voids in the marketplace. As a result, he has developed a single system in PK4 Media’s platform XPS, which controls delivery and optimization, providing advertisers an effective and efficient way to achieve results.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Metrics-Driven Demand Gen in a Multichannel World

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

How to Find & Engage Brand Influencers


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