TRADITIONAL MASS MEDIA vs. INTERACTIVE & DIGITAL MEDIA

WHAT ADVANTAGES DO THE INTERNET AND OTHER NEW FORMS OF DIGITAL MEDIA PROVIDE ADVERTISERS WHEN COMPARED TO TRADITIONAL MASS MEDIA ADVERTISING CHANNELS?

Written by Taryn Pollock

Relationships between online media and mass media are continually evolving.  In the past ten to fifteen years, there has been a distinct shift in favour and popularity from the more conventional forms of mass media, to newer forms of advertising, namely interactive and digital media: a shift considered as being reflective of our current socioeconomic environment. It is important to note however in discussing any correlation and or disparity between the varying forms of advertising mediums – be they traditional of new interactive – that no advertising medium is necessarily ‘better’ than another:  the value and effectiveness of advertising channels are dependent on circumstance, objective, target market and available budget.

Historically, advertisers have used traditional mass media, namely radios, magazines, television and newspapers, to convey their intended objective.[1]  More and more-so however, as a direct result of the rapid technological advancement our society has undergone over the last decade, advertisers are now beginning to find greater advantage in newer forms of media and are thus utilising them to their full potential, marking a divergence from the more established, traditional channels:[2] the result of which is that although more mature, these traditional forms of mass media will continue to exhibit slower growth patterns in the advertising industry.[3] In 2009, advertising in America for traditional mass media totalled $190 billion; television commanded the majority of expenditures, newspapers 31%, magazine 16% and radio, just over 11%.[4] In 2006, prior to these findings, Director of Entertainment and Media at Price Waterhouse Coopers, Matt Leibmann, predicted similar trends for the Australian advertising sector, measurable over a 4 year period. He noted that newspapers would only increase revenue by 2.8%, with publishers turning instead to online-classifieds; television, although the second largest advertising channel in Australia, increasingly targeted a free-to-air audience that even still, continues to decline rapidly, with viewers turning instead to pay and On Demand television.[5] 

Advertisers’ target publics for traditional mass media generally conform to an assumed set of demographics and psychographics, different to those targeted by digital and interactive media objectives.[6]  Publics more likely to receive and respond to traditional forms of mass media are those that exhibit the values of being from Basic Needs[7], Real Conservatism,[8] Visible Achievement[9] and Traditional Family Life[10] categories.

The printed page, be it a newspaper or magazine, provides a unique and flexible medium for advertising creativity.[11] Magazines are considered the most selective of the traditional channels of mass media and are flexible in the readership they target by being either business or consumer-oriented.[12] Two of four limitations to advertising success by way of magazines are as follows:

1)      Magazine advertisements unlike those exhibited on television and radio, are not intrusive: readers are able to control their exposure to magazine advertisements.[13]

2)      Magazines require long lead times, whereby advertisements must be finalised and ready for publication weeks in advance. [14]

Similarly, newspapers are a mass medium that almost everyone reads and has access to. Printed messages therein have a longer lifespan compared to electronic bulletins and the short lead time newspapers have allows for advertising flexibility.[15]Yet despite these advantages and much like magazines, newspapers also have rather burdening limitations.[16]

1)      Through newspapers, advertisers are unable to reach a highly selective medium. Although newspapers do not target specific socioeconomic or demographic publics, readers are more likely to be on average, more economically upscale, rendering television a more suitable medium for targeting specific audiences more efficiently.[17]  

2)      Newspapers are only able to offer mediocre reproduction quality, rendering advertisements exposed to messy and potentially illegible quality.[18]

Interestingly, Leibmann noted that radio would in fact be the stronger traditional mass media earner for advertisers over a four year period. This prediction is substantiated by a report recently published on Commercial Radio Australia’s website, where it was announced that “people are six times more likely to go to an advertiser’s website if they have heard the advertisement on radio.”[19]  The demonstrable key advantage of radio advertisements is that they have an immediate effect.[20] It is this advantage that has seen advertisers successfully bridge the gap in recent years between traditional mass media and more modern forms of digital and interactive media, by linking radio advertisements with the public’s overwhelming preference for digital interaction; and in so doing, taking advantage of their behavioural trends and activities.[21]  

In recent years, the internet has become the mainstream medium for advertisers. In a constant state of evolution, it offers advertisers a wide range of media outlets (social and digital) and advertising formats (websites, macro-sites, landing pages, ad banners, rich-media advertising, sponsorship and viral marketing, otherwise considered the online version of word-of-mouth)[22] through which they can reach their target audiences beyond the imposed restrictions of traditional channels.[23]

Digital media is described as being channels of communication that join multimedia formats with electronic system capabilities, modern telecommunications, television and computer technologies.[24] Through digital media, advertisers can reach a global range of target publics (mass, private and personal audiences),[25]on a 24/7 basis. Digital media, by way of the internet has given rise to the omnipresent phenomenon that is social media; an online forum of interaction, widely adopted by the masses, that replicates the real world without geographical barriers.[26] Social media fosters the ability for consumers to connect, create, contribute and share their ideas, opinions and values with one another.[27] Online social media platforms include ‘apps,’ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and MySpace and may be considered the seat of viral marketing; open forums wherein it is the consumers, oft prone to being fickle and of short attention spans,[28] who dictate brand quality, image and promotion.[29] By engaging with and appealing to consumers on these platforms, advertisers are able to combat their potential albeit predicted loss of total brand control by incorporating and involving their target publics; fostering and strengthening customer relationships and brand loyalty as a result.

The internet and related forms of digital media therein, despite their obvious advantages, exhibit potential disadvantages to advertisers. Some marketers consider online advertising too cluttered and complex and are unenthused by its democratic nature.[30] As aforementioned, the internet allows consumers a considerable degree of autonomy in the way in which they respond to products and engage with advertisers. The prospect of the consumer having the ability to credit or discredit a product and or brand to potential consumers leaves advertisers apprehensive of interactive media.  

As our current socio-economic and technological global community continues to evolve at a rapid pace, so too has the way in which advertisers target and consequently reach and engage with their audiences in order to achieve desired outcomes in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. Whilst traditional forms of mass media continue to reach specific target publics, the aggressive rise of interactive and digital media has seen advertising trends within this field slow down considerably. Newspapers and magazines have a limited reach when it comes to the publics (specific or otherwise) that they target; with a number of publications now turning to online publishing to assume and hold onto a wider reach.  Television and radio are similarly digitalising the way in which they operate, with On Demand television and digital interactive radio now the more dominant adaptations of the traditional form. The internet and consequent emergence of social media has made news and social interaction available to a vast and flexible community on a 24/7, “one-click” basis, necessitating a more engaging and interactive approach between advertiser and consumer. It has however also meant that the consumer has become more of a powerful and potentially disruptive entity with regard to brand reputation and success. Despite this, the interactive and digital age has arrived: advertisers must turn now to this form of advertising to ensure their ongoing success in reaching their public.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY  

  • Arens, WF, Weigold, MF & Arens C,. (2011) Contemporary Advertising, 13th Edition, McGraw-Hill Irwin, pp 219-23, 270-8, 595 – 656.
  • Cheong, Y., De Gregorio, F., & Kim, K. (2010). ‘The Power of Reach and Frequency In the Age of Digital Advertising.’ Journal Of Advertising Research, 50(4), 403-415. EBSCOhost (accessed 1st June 2012)
  • Commercial Radio Australia Ltd. (2012), ‘Radio boosts digital activity,’ www.commercialradio.com.au, retrieved 2nd June 2012
  • Rappaport, Stephen D. ‘Lessons from online practice: new advertising models,’ in Journal of Advertising Research (47)2, pp. 135-41
  • Roy Morgan Research (2010), ‘Values Segments,’ www.roymorgan.com.au/products/values-segments.cfm, retrieved 2nd June 2012
  • Shimp, Terrence A., (2010), Integrated Marketing Communications in Advertising and Promotion, International Edition, South-Western Cengage Learning.
  • Tooth, G. (2006), ‘Australia’s Media Future,’ in The Media Report, radio interview with Matt Leibmann, ABC Radio National, www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/mediareport/australias-media-future/3340218 Retrieved 2nd June, 2012.

[1] Arens, WF, Weigold, MF & Arens C,. (2011) Contemporary Advertising, 13th Edition, McGraw-Hill Irwin, pp 219-23, 270-8, 595 – 656. pg 9

[2] Ibid.

[3] Tooth,G., (2006), ‘Australia’s Media Future,’ in The Media Report, radio interview with Matt Leibmann, ABC Radio National, www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/mediareport/australias-media-future/3340218 Retrieved 2nd June, 2012.

[4] Shimp, Terrence A., (2010), Integrated Marketing Communications in Advertising and Promotion, International Edition, South-Western Cengage Learning. pg 360

[5] Rappaport, Stephen D. ‘Lessons from online practice: new advertising models,’ in Journal of Advertising Research (47)2, pp. 135-41. pg 137

[6] Roy Morgan Research (2010), ‘Values Segments,’ www.roymorgan.com.au/products/values-segments.cfm, retrieved 2nd June 2012

[7] ibid

[8] ibid

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Arens, WF, Weigold, MF & Arens C,. (2011) Contemporary Advertising, 13th Edition. pg 482

[12] Shimp, Terrence A., (2010), Integrated Marketing Communications in Advertising and Promotion, International Edition pg 363.

[13] Arens, WF, Weigold, MF & Arens C,. (2011) Contemporary Advertising, 13th Edition. pg 458

[14] Ibid pg 458

[15] Ibid pg 482

[16] Shimp, Terrence A., (2010), Integrated Marketing Communications in Advertising and Promotion, International Edition pg 362

[17] Ibid 363

[18] Ibid.

[19] Tooth,G., (2006), ‘Australia’s Media Future,’ in The Media Report, radio interview with Matt Leibmann, ABC Radio National

[20] Commercial Radio Australia Ltd. (2012), ‘Radio boosts digital activity,’ www.commercialradio.com.au, retrieved 2nd June 2012

[21] Ibid

[22] Cheong, Y., De Gregorio, F., & Kim, K. (2010). ‘The Power of Reach and Frequency In the Age of Digital Advertising.’ Journal Of Advertising Research, 50(4), 403-415. EBSCOhost (accessed 1st June 2012) pg 403

[23] Arens, WF, Weigold, MF & Arens C,. (2011) Contemporary Advertising, 13th Edition. pg 538

[24] Ibid pg 447

[25] Arens, WF, Weigold, MF & Arens C,. (2011) Contemporary Advertising, 13th Edition. pg 447

[26] ibid pg 552

[27] Rappaport, Stephen D. ‘Lessons from online practice: new advertising models,’ in Journal of Advertising Research (47)2, pg 136

[28] Arens, WF, Weigold, MF & Arens C,. (2011) Contemporary Advertising, 13th Edition. pg 539

[29] Cheong, Y., De Gregorio, F., & Kim, K. (2010). ‘The Power of Reach and Frequency In the Age of Digital Advertising.’ Journal Of Advertising Research, 50(4). pg 404

[30] Arens, WF, Weigold, MF & Arens C,. (2011) Contemporary Advertising, 13th Edition. pg 550

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