What’s New is Old: High Tech Firms’ Advertising Found on Ancient Cave Walls

Well, not really.

But, digital companies heavily rely on “traditional” advertising. (Which, for some people in the digital ad world, is the same as a cave wall.)

In Philadelphia, 1SEO has invested a significant amount of money in the oldest form of advertising: billboards. According to Kantar (2016), they spent $86,000 in billboards.

Why is a company, whose sole purpose is to help drive traffic to their clients’ website through SEO using billboards for its own advertising? One would think that a company called 1SEO could drive enough traffic through….well… SEO.

Obviously, this isn’t the case.

Similar stories abound. Kantar (2016) also reports that “online companies” spent over $4.9 million on traditional advertising between March of 2015 and April of 2016.

National brands aren’t the only organizations that benefit from the kind of top-of-mind awareness generated by traditional media. Research suggests that almost 80% of a car dealer’s web traffic is generated by searches involving the dealership name. This speaks to the importance of aligning the ad strategy with each step of the purchase funnel. Awareness is most effectively built through branding via traditional advertising media and its online cousin…pre-roll and mid-roll video, etc. Shifting the balance of an ad budget to the paid search and other bottom-of-the-funnel media needs to happen proportional to the potential return and in the context of the entire funnel.

A car dealership with a single location spent two years analyzing the ROI of their ad spend. They concluded that they were overspending in paid search as well as the endemic automotive sites like AutoTrader.com. This particular dealership has dramatically revised his advertising spending accordingly. His experience was echoed at 2015’s NADA conference where presenters at one session demonstrated that their dealership clients are meeting more success with a smaller SEM spend.

Don’t get me wrong, the importance of digital advertising cannot be overstated. Digital provides an unprecedented opportunity to reach audiences in new and dynamic ways. The amount of learning that comes from the data generated by digital advertising can be invaluable. But it is only part of a process. In some ways, as digital media becomes more important in providing numbers about the consumer, purchasing habits, consumer experience, etc. traditional media’s role is also becoming increasingly important for awareness and branding to drive those very bottom-of-the funnel metrics.