Traditional VS Digital Advertising: Pros and Cons of Each


For many years and for many of our clients, business owners have relied on newspaper, billboard, and radio advertising as the majority of their marketing. While this was the most effective way of getting in front of potential customers, the rise of social media marketing within the last decade has made digital advertising very competitive. 

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing refers to advertising that does not take place online. The most common channels include newspaper/magazine ads, billboards, radio spots, and direct mail.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing refers to advertising that does take place online. There are many avenues to explore in the digital marketing space but most commonly this refers to advertising on social media, Google, and email/text marketing. 

Traditional Marketing Pros and Cons


  • Attention Rate – It’s often harder to ignore a huge billboard in the public surroundings
  • Shelf Life – An ad on the cover of a magazine is going to be “on the shelf” longer than a Facebook ad that someone scrolls past.
  • Direct Mail can have incredible conversion rates if you have a big audience with a big ticket sale item.


  • Next to impossible measure – The only way to track traditional marketing is if you count every direct mailer you sent out and measure how many leads received from that. Or if you include a call-tracking number on a billboard and track how many calls are received through that phone number. And if done, these numbers can often be inaccurate.
  • Cost – The cost to advertise in a newspaper with a decent ad is usually $200-500 per month. With Facebook or Google, you may choose any budget you would like.
  • Contracts – Traditional marketing agencies are notorious for trapping you in a 12 month contract. Our advice would be to do your research, ask yourself questions if you will be getting what you pay for during the 12 months.

Digital Marketing Pros and Cons


  • Trackable – Digital marketing tracks performance across all platforms to give you accurate data on how effective your marketing dollars are. 
  • Cost – You have the ability to spend as little or as much as you want on digital advertising. The results per “conversion, clicks or impressions” are often low compared to traditional advertising.
  • Month-to-Month – If you are going to use a digital agency to handle your marketing, many will never make you sign a 12 month contract. They will often ask for you to stay on for at least 3 months for results to show but you would not be obligated to continue.


  • Data Usage – Privacy has been a hot topic especially with Facebook recently. And with the IOS 14.5 updates, Apple has now limited the ad targeting capabilities. Users now have the option to “Ask App Not to Track.” The bottom line is when you’re online, your data is most likely being used. Users are now recently getting the ability to control that data usage, but at the cost of the advertiser.
  • Time Consuming – Generating ideas, creating content, posting, and building audiences. All these things take time that you might not have with your busy schedule. 
  • Competitive – You may or may not see your competition doing digital marketing, but it is out there and it is fierce. That’s why when you start digital marketing, you must stand out.

So which is best for my business?

As a digital agency, we may be biased but no marketing is a one-size-fits-all. For some industries it makes total sense to have billboards, for others, not so much. Our greatest piece of advice would be to look at your current marketing dollars and evaluate if you are getting your Return On Investment. Are you receiving the appropriate amount of business from the money you’re spending on advertising?

If you’re not sure if you’re getting ROI from your marketing, we can help! We’ll have you create goals for where you want to be and we’ll help you achieve those goals. Let’s Connect!

Drew Donnay

When it comes to marketing and advertising, my focus is to maximize ROI (return on investment). In my spare time, I enjoy writing scripts, watching movies, making movies, walking my dog, Kennedy, sports card investing, and dominating fantasy football.

Ready to start your project? Get in touch!

Scroll to Top