Main Characteristics Of Traditional Digital Marketing

Main Characteristics Of Traditional Digital Marketing

Main Characteristics Of Traditional Digital Marketing

In my previous article, I have looked at some of the differences between traditional and digital marketing. In this article, I want to look at some of the main characteristics of traditional digital marketing. Follow me as we are going to look at that together in this article. 
Even if traditional and digital marketing can work hand in hand, they are profoundly different in their communication style and effect on consumers.
If we look at the history of advertising influenced by media development, the primary aim of media was to spread one message across the largest amount of people and the only thing the audience could do is view the message. There was no way to interact or challenge that message like we can see today on the internet. We will deep dive on the differences in the next articles.


Based on these differences, marketers need to strategically plan where they will invest and what will be the best ratio between traditional and new media budget. Each media will talk to a different audience and have a different impact on the audience’s perception of a company.


A simple example is to look at the generational gap in media consumption. While 18-34-year-old adults in the US consume 20hrs 24mins of TV a week, 50+ years old consume 47hrs 18mins. On the other hand, 18-34 years old spend 14hrs 23mins on their smartphone against 8hrs 7mins 50+ in Q1 of 2016.


Main Characteristics Of Traditional Digital Marketing
Additional studies have shown that the impact of physically reachable media, such as print, have a greater impact on memory than digital media. For example:
‘Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media (5.15 vs. 6.37), suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable. Post-exposure memory tests validated what the cognitive load test revealed about direct mail’s memory encoding capabilities. When asked to cite the brand (company name) of an advertisement they had just seen, the recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to a direct mail piece (75%) than a digital ad (44%).’ according to a Canada Post study. Rna by the TrueImpact neuro-marketing firm.
Earlier, I said that traditional and new media are different and carry different attraction and impact across audiences.

They are 4 main categories where we can compare the difference between the two:

  • Reach The total number of different people exposed to the media that are influenced by the environment in which the media is consumed. This helps define if a media is more geared toward mass or individual reach. Reach covers whether the message is consumed by a number of people at the same time or only by one individual.
  • Engagement: The level to which an audience is able to interact with the content will define the level of engagement with this media. How invested in the audience when the message is received?
  • Relationship: How is the message received and perceived by the audience? The relationship between the media and the audience is defined by the nature of the message, how targeted, familiar and relevant it is to the audience.
  • Method: The main tactics used to bring the consumer through the buyer’s journey. As we saw earlier, this can be made by pulling consumers through content or pushing content to them. Each channel will have a certain level of scope depending on how the content is found, used and how it influences the buyer’s journey.

Traditionally, the media landscape was divided between multiple forms of media such as TV, press, and radio, differentiated by the format of the message, video, print, and sound. The characteristics of these traditional media influence the traditional scheme of marketing.
Through traditional media, the marketing effort can be expressed in certain ways that no longer apply to the new media landscape. Let’s take a look at the previous categories in order to define the specifics of traditional marketing:

  • Reach: The scale that is obtainable through traditional media, makes traditional marketing a mass marketing experience. TV, for instance, can reach millions of individuals at the same time, securing impact and visibility, similarly with radio or press. The number of consumers reached is easily calculated based on subscribers, viewers, and listeners that will all be tuned in at the same time.
  • Engagement: Traditional marketing is the base for one way communication. If we talk about it in terms of communication theory, traditional marketing gathers a sender – a message – and a receiver. The message is sent from the sender to the receiver. Once received, the message is processed and the communication stops. The audience is passively receiving a message and is not engaged in searching for the information, this information is pushed through advertising in between two programs.
  • Relationship: Traditional marketing relying on traditional media is a mass form of communication. The greater media such as TV, radio and press are shared across large groups of people and these people experience the same content no matter where they are or whoever they are. Two individuals watching the same channel at the same time in different houses will still see the same message, this is a one (brand) to many (mass audience) communication.
  • Method: Traditional marketing as a result of the previous definition of being a mass, one to many, passive type of marketing, falls under the outbound method. The audience will not find the content of the brand or be attracted by the relevance of the product in solving their issue, but on the contrary, will learn about a product or a brand randomly without the context of their needs.

Technology has created the new media options and media experience is now portable, instantaneous and unlimited. Access to the internet has revolutionized the definition of marketing. Digital marketing plays with new rules where the audience has gained greater power over the content they consume.

  • Reach: The audience is no longer being served the same message. The audience is broken down in smaller groups of people that identify with a defined buyers’ persona. We talk about individual media as the message is no longer addressed to a somewhat undefined mass, but is targeted at specific individuals.
  • Engagement: The shift in media technologies has strongly influenced the way audiences engage with the media and the content. By using two-way communication systems, it allows audiences to interact with the content, who is no longer just the at end of the communication process. The sender (brand) sends a message to a receiver (individual) and this receiver can choose to send another message (engagement/feedback) to the receiver, or even transfer this message to another receiver. This process is highly active for the audience as they have the power to engage.
  • Relationship: As seen before, the new media playbook means that brands have the choice to target smaller groups of individuals and craft messages that will resonate with specific groups. This is a one-to-one type of communication where marketers can personalize messages personal to each individual in their audience.
  • Method: Digital marketing has the capacity to develop an Inbound communication strategy. Due to the individualistic, content-heavy and active audience present and accelerated by new media development, pulling an audience to your content has become the way. This is only possible thanks to technological development and has become a priority as the inbound methodology develops better, more qualified customers.

If we look at the reach of media, the way a medium is consumed will impact the definition of this media as mass or individual.
Some examples of mass and individual media channels can help understand:

  • Cinema
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Social Media
  • Email
  • Apps

Looking at the cinema, TV and radio, the experience of the message through these media is of a group experience.  The media is consumed in a group situation, watching TV with the family, listening to the radio in the car with other people, going to catch a movie in a full movie theatre – these are grouped experiences were all eyes and ears are receiving the same stimuli.


Looking at social media, email and apps, while the medium is shared, the content is customized for the individual. Most people use the same social media, email client and apps to consume content, but thanks to technology, consumers present at the same time can see an infinite variety of content based on who is logged in – this is an individual experience.


The content on the page is relevant to the unique individual that is connected. Based on cookie tracking and algorithms developed by the platform, the information about what people are interested in and what they will most likely see in their timeline or email is accessible. Additionally, these types of channels are usually consumed alone on one’s smartphone or computer making the experience deeply personal.



One note about algorithms, they are at the heart of the individualized experience of new media and digital marketing:

  • An algorithm is defined as a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps as well as finding the greatest common divisor. 
  • The newsfeed is designed to display content that is relevant to individual viewers. Social media is much more complex than what we might see on the surface and that each social media channel has its own algorithm, which determines how frequently and extensively your content gets shared.
  • News Feed algorithms consider the type of posts with which individual users typically engage and that influences what shows up.

When planning an overall media strategy, depending on the goals, marketers will prioritize more engaging forms of media that appeal to a more passive audience. Digital and traditional can be active and passive, the dominance of active media engagement is shown in digital marketing due to the nature of the formats and channels it involves.


Passive engagement

According to Harvard Business Reviews, ’passive media’ is any form of media where the consumer can’t physically do anything with it, except for consuming it (newspaper, television, radio, etc.). For example, consumers stay in front of the TV not doing anything and not being engaged mentally in solving problems or researching, and when an ad is showing, they have no means of responding to this message. They are sitting in front of a monitor and passively consuming content.


Because of this, the message will reach them with less impact as there is a mindless consumption. But this behaviour is also true of consumers scrolling through a Facebook timeline mindlessly going through the content and scrolling over ads. They are not actively searching but can still engage with the content, which creates the opportunity for active media use and marketing experience.


Active engagement: ‘Active media’ is any form of media where the consumer can physically engage with it (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.). Content on digital platforms has been developed to be highly engaging – consumers can share, comment, like, Tweet and pin it. When users are searching for information over the internet, they are actively engaged in an activity and are mentally present to receive relevant messages.


This gives digital marketing an extra active characteristic. But this needs to be nuanced as many users mindlessly scroll down are not looking for specific information but looking for a distraction. In that state, even if an ad comes up and has the potential for active engagement, the consumer may not be ready to receive that message.


Passivity and activity make up the passive or active quality of a media or marketing strategy. Thus two questions are worth keeping in mind:
1.Is your content promoting activity through engagement opportunities?
2.Who is your target audience?
In traditional marketing, the message given is singular. Because of the grouped experience, traditional marketers will develop a single message that will reach individuals with the same content.
While the message can be interpreted differently, it is the same for each individual no matter how relevant the person is in regards to the actual targeted audience. On TV, you might watch a show with your family when an ad comes up about sports equipment. This message will only resonate with members of the family that have an interest in sports. Maybe your sister is into sports and will be interested and attentive to the message, while you are into literature and will open a book while the ad is showing.


In digital marketing, marketers can create multiple versions of the same message, and target users whose profile fits their target audience with certitude. The brand experience aims to individualize, personalize, and become relevant to the consumer himself.


Thanks to technologies such as cookie tracking, retargeting, traffic and data stored on the consumer’s behaviour and preferences over social media and websites, marketers have plenty of information to research their consumers and what triggers their attention and interests.
We touched on this subject earlier in the class, but it is important to re-asses how an inbound or outbound method integrates within traditional and digital media.


Outbound methodology

In traditional media, there is little space for interaction as we have seen with the one-way communication model. Additionally, the targeting capabilities that exist are often broad and do not ensure a 100% target reach. Accessing a global audience with a singular message that will be the same for any individual that receives it. These are components that make traditional media an outbound strategy in most cases, specifically for mass media as TV, Radio, cinema.



The audience is consuming content but the content can be unrelated to the context, problems, and situation the audience is in. This is a push strategy or showing content to as many people as possible, hoping that it will resonate with some based on audience research previously made.  For this reason, it is harder to track and are more expensive as the buying system of traditional is not so flexible and usually involves great amounts of money.


This is true for most traditional media but additionally to the ad exchange model online, where random ads are placed on a banner of a participating website without contextual or individual relevance. Let’s look at these statistics:


  • 44% of direct mail is never opened. That’s a waste of time, postage and paper.
  • 86% of people skip through television commercials.
  • 84% of 25 to 34-year-olds have clicked out of a website because of an “irrelevant or intrusive ad.

Inbound Methodology

On the opposite side, inbound strategy as we defined earlier aims to attract interested consumers to your content, brand and offer. This marketing model was greatly facilitated with the development of digital technology as we talked about in the previous slide. The use of cookie tracking, SEO, topics, blogs and influencers help brands resonate with a specific audience that is easily targetable as all the data is accessible and can be run through algorithms to show the most relevant message to the relevant individual.
To provide a concrete example, when a user is going on a page as an unknown visitor, the site will add a cookie in their browser that will stay there if they don’t manually remove it. Through this cookie, we attach the user activity to the cookie. Once the user converts by subscribing to a newsletter, for instance, the cookie is associated with the email address.



Then in your database, all the collected information will live under that contact record. Thus in the future, if the platform allows it, you can decide to show specific content to users who qualify for certain behaviour or information. For instance, country-specific content is a good example, you can decide to show ads for concerts that will be in the local area of the user instead of showing one ad, for one location, to all visitors on the websites. This applies to advertise but also content on the brand’s assets.

Action Point

I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you can drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.



Download Our App.


CEHNigeria On Google Playstore

Download Our Blog App On Google Playstore. 


Have a deeper understanding of Google Search Console. Use SEOPOZ



Have a deeper understanding of Google Search Console. Join SEOPOZ for free. 

Join Our Whatsapp Group Here


Join Our Whatsapp Group

Follow Us On Twitter and I will Follow Back


Follow Us On Twitter

Kindly follow me on Twitter and I promise I will follow back. Aside you all get updates when we post new articles. 

About Adeniyi Salau 883 Articles
I am an IT enthusiast and a man of many parts. I am a Certified Digital Marketer, Project Manager and a Real Estate Consultant. I love writing because that's what keeps me going. I am running this blog to share what I know with others. I am also a Superlife Stem Cell Distributor. Our Stem Cell Products can cure many ailments.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


CommentLuv badge