Surprise, surprise! Traditional advertising remains alive and well

By our News Team | 2022

Advertising spending on traditional media showed a surprise uptick in developed markets in 2022. What will 2023 bring?

The year 2022, perhaps surprisingly to many in the industry, saw a growing discussion among marketing professionals and top academics about traditional advertising being on the cusp of a comeback. 

Nobody suggested that digital’s massive gains of the past decade were suddenly being completely reversed. But facts, figures and credible research pointed to an important change in the traditional advertising landscape.

Traditional Advertising

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It all seemed to start in February 2022, when The CMO Survey found that marketers were predicting traditional advertising spend would increase by 2.9% in the coming period, with consumer-facing companies spearheading the charge.

The CMO Survey researchers found B2C service companies predicted the largest increase in traditional advertising spending (+10.2%), followed by B2C product companies (+4.9%). Further, and somewhat ironically, companies that earn 100% of their sales through the internet led this inflection – predicting an 11.7% increase in traditional advertising spending over the next 12 months.

Then, in late April, the celebrated Harvard Business Review published an article headlined ‘Why marketers are returning to traditional advertising’

Based on The CMO Survey results and data from various other sources, the three authors summarised their article as follows: “Pundits have long predicted the demise of traditional advertising. However, it is alive and well and headed for growth for the first time in a decade.”

The authors put forward several drivers behind the shift. Among them:

Breaking through the digital clutter

As consumers are spending most of their waking hours online, it seems they are becoming increasingly numb to conventional digital advertising and engagement. They report frustration and negative brand association with digital advertising clutter that prevents them from reading an article, watching a video, or browsing a website. 

Capitalising on consumers’ trust in traditional advertising

The top five most trusted advertising formats are all traditional, with customers trusting most print advertising (82%), television advertising (80%), direct mail advertising (76%) and radio advertising (71%) to make purchasing decisions. 

Preparing for the decline of third-party cookies

With Google phasing out the third-party cookie on Chrome browsers by late 2023 and Apple implementing changes to its iOS14 operating system, the death of third-party cookies is imminent. The CMO Survey found that 19.8% of companies invested more in traditional advertising as a result.

Exploiting the digital lift of traditional media

Digital technology can leverage traditional tools in powerful and surprising ways. Unique URLs and QR codes allow marketers to gather extremely granular data, permitting them to develop robust marketing analytics regarding ROI and attribution, and eroding the advantage of digital channels.

Revisiting digital effectiveness.

Marketers are also becoming sceptical of the hyped returns of digital media, because the platforms control both the advertising inventory and its effectiveness measurement. This has raised credibility concerns related to ad fraud and the worry that digital advertising may be far less effective than reported.

You will find this story, and much more, in Issue 4 2022 of Strategic Marketing for Africa magazine, the voice of African marketing and the official publication of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC). It is available quarterly in Digital and Print editions.