online vs offline

Online vs. offline advertising: which is better?

Both offline and online advertising can generate attention and potentially lucrative interest, whatever sector or industry your business operates in – and there’s now more choice for marketers than ever.

In an increasingly digitalised and screen-bound world, where we live more of our lives on the web, you may immediately think that online ads will do more to boost your overall visibility.

But we still walk and drive to work past billboards, turn on the radio and spend on average 12 hours a week watching on-demand TV alone. So, especially for smaller businesses whose trade is mainly locally focused, offline advertising is far from obsolete.

Offline ad campaigns, mainly involving print, TV, cinema, radio and billboard advertising, are still run by many brands across varied industries. Offline advertising can even cover ads and banners in shop windows aimed at passing trade, or, more arguably, interior design. Other elements include direct mail, leaflets, brochures and flyers.

For its part, online advertising encompasses websites and social media but also mobile ads, search engine marketing and optimisation, plus display and email adverts. It’s fast, cost-effective and combines text, audio and video for multi-media integration.

Pros and cons

  • Measurability

With tools such as Google Analytic and AdWords, you can use the numerous available metrics to gather and analyse data easily. Learn the exact impact your online marketing strategy has on ad visibility, clicks and conversions. (Conversions are, of course, themselves easily measurable metrics for calculating exact ROI and assessing how effectively a particular strategy results in sales.)

With offline advertising, short of displaying a separate phone number/email in a particular advert, there’s no equivalent way of knowing whether you persuaded your audience to buy.

  • Long-term exposure

While offline advertising tends to run only for as long as you pay for it, its online counterpart is a continual process offering long-term exposure to a target audience.

  • Precision targeting

Websites such as Instagram, Facebook and Google target your chosen audience with laser-like accuracy, and can even show how many people a particular advert reached. Make your target as specific or broad as you wish, or run only in a particular local area or within a certain time period.

Traditional strategies only provide a limited scope for specific audience targeting.

  • Results in real time

Online, you can see and assess measure results as soon as you’ve implemented your strategy or campaign. Offline, you can only measure at the speed with which the ad is run and the limited information it was possible to gather is retrieved.

That doesn’t make online advertising perfect for every situation. Some even regard digital ads with some scepticism, while the ads themselves can seem distracting.

Digital advertising hasn’t created some huge divide with its offline counterpart, or rendered it irrelevant. Rather, it has made room for innovation and unique strategies.

Talk to us about how your brand could reap the benefits of greater online marketing exposure.