As economic instability and technological changes disrupted the US this year, we’ve seen interesting trends emerge in the advertising industry. While digital ad platforms have seen sales drop this year, traditional ad channels are seeing a resurgence in activity. As of February 2022, a survey from Harvard Business Review indicated marketers planned to increase spending on traditional advertising by 2.9%.
It may surprise you to hear that the largest leap in ad spend on traditional channels comes from online-only retailers. According to the same survey, e-commerce brands predicted an 11.7% increase in ad spend on traditional channels over the next 12 months.
Many have considered digital media to be the most efficient way to reach consumers in the past few years. If that’s the case, why would brands that operate exclusively online choose to increase spending on print marketing and other traditional media?
The Credibility of Print
Print is the most trusted form of advertising among consumers, according to MarketingSherpa. Likewise, direct mail is also among the top five most-trusted ad formats. Despite its pervasiveness, digital media can still feel too volatile and unpredictable for some consumers to trust it completely. Meanwhile, some have spent too much time online and have developed a jaded view of all things digital thanks to the misinformation and vitriol they’ve experienced on social platforms.
To reach these digital doubters more effectively, your brand needs to speak to these groups offline. Putting your message down on print can subconsciously make it feel more concrete and authentic, which naturally adds credibility with your audience. You’ll also reach them when they aren’t in a heightened state of frustration about a post they saw right before your ad. On the contrary, touching or holding a print piece creates a physical connection between your brand and the consumer, which further strengths your image in their mind. As a result, you can leave your audience with a more positive and long-lasting impression than most can achieve online.
Bringing Your Products to New Audiences
Although some audiences have grown to distrust digital advertisements, most still love to make purchases online because it’s so convenient. If an e-commerce business exclusively advertises online, they will miss out on this important subset of their potential audience. To capture the attention of these consumers, brands can utilize traditional print and direct mail ads, which will deliver your message on a more palatable medium. The prints land right in the mailbox, which 98 percent of Americans check every day. (USPS)
As an added benefit, direct mail also has the potential to reach multiple people at multiple times. A digital ad will only be seen by whoever is currently using the phone or computer, and once you scroll away, you may not see the message again. Meanwhile, a printed bonus offer may be hung up on the fridge and seen many times by different family members or friends over the course of several days. This extended range means your brand will get in front of new audiences, potentially landing you a customer that you would not have reached otherwise.
The Data Debate
One of the big advantages digital used to hold over traditional media was the sheer amount of data it harnessed. Websites and social media platforms could use third-party cookies to track users and compile valuable data, which allowed marketers to create highly targeted and effective messages. However, in recent years, Google has started to phase out third-party cookies, and Apple has added new policies to protect the privacy of iPhone and Mac users. Now, digital media doesn’t offer the same data advantages, and marketers have to come up with other ways to target their audience.
To combat the loss of third-party cookies, e-commerce brands will need to collect their own first-party data. One way they can accomplish that is with print advertising. Using prints to drive rewards program signups or make purchases through unique QR codes and links can help your business gain valuable insights into your customers’ purchase decisions. Brands can also take a very targeted approach to direct mail marketing, thanks to the extensive information available regarding mail routes and zip codes. Selecting only the mail routes that match the demographic information of your target audience will allow you to still reach your ideal customers, even without the controversial digital data.