Balancing Traditional and Digital Media

Mary Ann


February 15, 2021

I’m often asked about how to balance traditional and digital media within a given media plan. There isn’t a quick or easy answer, especially in this time when the media landscape and consumer behavior is changing faster than ever. However, there are a few principles you should keep in mind when evaluating these areas in your media planning.

Watch the trends and look for opportunities.

When the pandemic hit last year and consumer behavior changed dramatically, traditional media took a big hit while digital saw a sizable spike. I saw this as an acceleration of an already existing trend, as newspaper circulations wither, TV viewers ‘cut the cord’, social media platforms multiply, etc. But accelerating changes mean more opportunities for budget savings and increased visibility. A platform suffering from reductions in sales is going to be increasingly open to rate negotiation and providing discounts on placement packages. A brand new digital channel will be eager to offer introductory rates and flexible options on new contracts.

Understand your audience.

Ultimately, striking the balance between traditional and digital media in your plan will come down to finding where your audience is. You’re unlikely to reach many 55-year-olds on Snapchat, and a campaign targeted at teenagers won’t succeed with newspaper ads. The more research and thought you put in toward targeting your audience, the better you will understand how to focus your budget between traditional and digital media.

Use a mix of both to maximize repetition.

Radio professionals know that repetition is the key to successful advertising. With this in mind, I find that the best campaigns are those that use multiple platforms working in tandem between traditional and digital mediums. Hearing something on the radio and then seeing it in their social media feed reinforces the message, making the audience more likely to take action. I have found that some platforms themselves even transcend the division between traditional and digital… like stations that will air your ad to commuters on the radio, then stream the ad during the day to their office computers.

So, the thought here is less of how to split your budget between mediums, and more of how to mix the two together for maximum effect. I don’t expect either ‘side’ to go away or replace the other, but instead I look for ways to utilize both in concert in my media plans. Let me know if I can provide any more insight on this idea.


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