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Traditional Advertising Vs. Digital Advertising: The Journey

After a challenging year for advertising media spending, 2021 has been somewhat of a comeback so far. A report from dentsu estimates that this year will see an increase in global ad spending of 5.8%. While digital media accounted for 48% of global ad budgets in 2020, it will reach 50% of the total global ad spend in 2021 for the first time ever.

The growing dominance of digital media should be no surprise. That’s where the eyeballs are.

But for advertising veterans, these numbers might also signify the sad, historic end of an era. According to eMarketer Daily, television and out-of-home advertising spending in the U.S. might have peaked (in 2018 and 2019, respectively), never to reach those levels again.

The Reason for Traditional Media Peaks

There are two reasons TV advertising spending reached such high levels in 2018 – the Winter Olympics and a midterm congressional election. Yes, the presidential election in 2020 attracted plenty of ad dollars (a record $72 billion, actually), but overall, TV ad spending last year declined 12.5% from the year before. And we agree with eMarketer Daily; we don’t expect TV to reach 2018 levels ever again.

Similarly, 2019 may have seen the forever peak for OOH ad spending, with the total U.S. spend reaching $8.65 billion. Fewer people are driving past billboards, and fewer people are attending the types of venues and businesses that spend a lot of dollars on outdoor. So, last year’s OOH spending saw a drop of nearly 30%. Outdoor spending may never reach $8 billion again.

Do all these numbers mean that AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon will stop battling on TV for our dollars? Will Flo and her goofy friends from Progressive stop trying to steal insurance business from the Geico gecko? Will you stop seeing Coors’ version of the Colorado Rockies as you drive cross country? Of course not. But things are changing, and if you’re trying to reach consumers or businesses with your brand message, you need to take heed.

Where Advertising Dollars are Going

We know more ad dollars are going digital, but what, exactly, does that mean?

First of all, digital is the only form of media that saw any growth in 2020 (3.2% compared to 2019). In 2021, the dentsu study forecasts digital ad spend growth of more than 10% YOY. Here are the digital areas that will be leading that charge:

  • Social media will grow 18.3%
  • Paid search will grow 11%
  • Online video will grow 10.8%

“As traditional TV ratings continue to decline,” said Philipp Schindler, SVP and Chief Business Officer at Google, “TV advertisers are turning to streaming platforms like YouTube to reach people who are no longer watching TV.” Mr. Schindler continued, “More than 100 million people in the U.S. now watch YouTube on their TV screens.”

The Future of Advertising

Now that we’ve taken a fond look at the past and a quick look at current spending trends, what will the future bring? Clearly, we’re going from the mass marketing vehicles of TV and OOH to technology-driven vehicles that are more targeted and personalized. We see that trend every day in media planning for our clients, and that seems to be the consensus from some other marketing heavyweights:

“I believe the future of advertising will shift towards a more intentional, relevant targeting that will be powered not by ads (whether those are print, social or display), but compelling dynamic content.”
–– Kwesi Robertson, Director of Marketing at Howerton + White

“How advertisers connect with target audiences varies, but personalization should be at the root of all campaigns, now and always. Brands that create personalized experiences through the integration of advanced digital technologies and proprietary data are those that will see revenue grow.”
–– Janine Pollack, Director of Integrated Marketing, MNI Targeted Media

“The future of advertising is engaging video content, personalized and relevant to the end-user. With the rapid increase in streaming hours and the increased availability of high-speed internet access, brands will need to create engaging content that is shared due to their inherent watchability.”
–– Chris Frantz, Head of Growth at Biteable

At JacobsEye, we don’t just see the trends toward more targeted and personalized media. We’re helping lead the way.

Using our partner Zeta Global’s massive Private Data Cloud, we’re able to unlock actionable insights and consumer intent to get the best understanding possible of prospective and existing customers. From this data we can see what our client’s best customers are interested in, build look-a-like audiences and provide in-market consumption habits. Having these insights enables us to efficiently boost brand awareness, familiarity and purchase rates resulting in higher lifetime value and intelligent spending opportunities.

Additionally, the Zeta Marketing Platform allows us to discover and take advantage of evolving consumer interests and brand affinities, and market to our clients’ targeted segments in the best performing marketing channels.

Does Media Matter to You?

What do you think? How are changing media trends affecting how you allocate your marketing dollars?

Either way, there’s no denying things will never be the same – and will continue to evolve – along with technology and consumer habits. This isn’t a bad thing. Clients and agencies just need to constantly explore new and traditional media vehicles to find the best, most efficient ways to get brand messages in front of the right people at the right time. If we can help you do that for your brand, give us a call.

About JacobsEye

JacobsEye is a full-service marketing agency that exists to enlighten and foster positive social change in the world. We create Marketing That Matters for corporate, government and nonprofit clients, and are currently one of the fastest-growing top 10 government marketing agencies in the U.S. JacobsEye is based in Atlanta, with additional offices in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.