Why Traditional Marketing Is Still Important In 2023

Why Traditional Marketing Is Still Important in 2023

A love letter to an increasingly distant era of marketing.

Yesterday, a friend of mine (who’s in his 60’s and works in a bakery) was waxing lyrical about OpenAi’s industry rocking chatbot, ChatGPT.

How the hell does a 60-something-year-old baker know about ChatGPT?!

This got me thinking about the relevance of traditional marketing in the modern era, does it have a place? Can it adapt to survive?

Or, rather upsettingly, has it gone the way of the humble cassette? Consigned to the annals of history, only dredged out to confuse a more modern generation.

Targeted Advertising

One of the great advantages of modern advertising, PPC, paid social et al is the increasingly ingenious ways in which ads can be targeted. Machine learning has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and can offer fantastic value for money.

For example, a professionally managed PPC campaign can get the right advert in front of the right person at the right time. Google calls it the zero moment of truth (ZMOT).

E-Commerce Is Convenient

Searching for those new trainers that you’re ready to buy? Here’s an ad, click on it and buy them. Right here and now. Simple.

It’s precise, laser focused, and above all, convenient.

Days of yore would have you listening to a McDonald’s advert on the radio before driving past a billboard, then when you passed a McDonald’s – as if by magic – you fancy one. Unless you’re one of them “don’t do Mcdonald’s” because of health or whatever.

It’s what’s known as outbound marketing and is much more of a scattergun approach when compared to the sniper rifle that is PPC inbound marketing.

Increase The Touchpoints

There’s a theory that states you need to get your brand in front of a person seven times before they make a purchase. It’s known as the Rule of Seven.

Ironically, this principle was put together in the 1930’s by the film industry who found that an audience member would have to see a film poster seven times before going to see the said film.

The Rule of Seven still rings true(ish) in modern marketing. The retargeting which underpins huge swathes of modern marketing methods really increases these touchpoints. We can effectively follow audiences all over the internet targeting them with advertising as and when needed.

The customer journey is a fully mapped out process these days.

the customer journey

Types Of Traditional Advertising

That being said, nobody remembers a great Google Ad they’ve seen do they? So, without further ado, let’s strap on the rose tinted spectacles and dive into some more traditional marketing methods.

Billboard Advertising

Billboards are a great example of how traditional marketing methods have not only stood the test of time, but have actively adapted to stay relevant. From electronic billboards to some really ingenious designs, they can be placed in strategic locations and are the epitome of blink and you’ll miss it advertising.

Inevitably, you have a few seconds at most to not only grab someone’s attention but to get your message across. The marketing message needs to be sharp, punchy and easy to understand. The idea of creating a QR code and including it on the side of the billboard is also a great way to help commuters scan the code, which may lead them to your website for more details. Billboards are great when it comes to brand awareness – especially if there’s a latent level of brand awareness already there.

They’re a designer’s dream and a chance to let slip the (creative) dogs of war.

The costs to rent the spaces varies from around £2,000 to upwards of £20,000 depending on duration and location. So there’s scope to catch a bargain, as well as the potential to put a dent in your budget.

Billboards get the seal of approval, they stay!

billboards on picadilly circus

Print Advertising

A different animal to billboards. Where billboards are placed out in general view where footfall is high – in order to see a print advert you must purchase a newspaper or magazine.

The print industry where not dying is certainly in decline. In 2005 expenditure in the UK newspaper industry was £4.4bn, in 2020 this had dropped to less than £2.8bn, a drop of 36% in 15 years.

So with print media in decline, surely print advertising follows suit?

Unfortunately, yes.

The ad spend figures tell an even more drastic story. UK ad spend in print media in 2014 was just over £3bn. In 2022 the spend was nearly half as much, grossing just £1.57bn.

The ship’s hit the iceberg, the band is playing on, but the advertisers and readers are clamouring to get into the lifeboats. No women and children first here!

It’s a shame, print advertising is another chance to be creative, to do something a little different – have some fun.

Jury’s out on this one, but I wouldn’t be putting my money in print media…unless I’m selling commemorative plates or whatever chintz is on sale at the tail end of a newspaper.

Radio & TV Advertising

A big time powerhouse when it comes to advertising, however, both have taken their licks in recent years and are looking a little rough around the edges now.

The explosion in streaming services over the past decade or so has taken a toll on this form of advertising. Not to mention live tv recording systems like Sky+ which are now commonplace in UK households.

Surprisingly, radio advertising is relatively cost-effective. Although we’re not talking pennies per click which we can often see in our display ad campaigns; at roughly £2 per 1,000 listeners, radio advertising does offer good value for money. Obviously, there are other overheads such as voice-over artists, studio time etc.

man recording a radio advert

It’s a little more difficult to nail down TV advert costs, they can be less than £10,000 to well over £250,000 for general prime time TV. In addition to this, it’s a very specialized type of media you have to know what you’re doing – you can’t just wing it using your 5 year out of date phone with a crack on the camera.

This hasn’t dissuaded advertisers though, spend on TV and radio ads in 2014 was a combined £4.56bn, increasing to £5.62bn in 2022.

Some adverts are institutions in their own right, look a the growth of the Christmas adverts in recent years. You can bet John Lewis paid a lot more than £250,000 for The Bear & The Hare – but it pays off. Even after years, people still remember good adverts, plus there’s always the opportunity to recoup some of the ad spend by selling plush toys at £15 a go!

Radio and TV advertising is staying strong.


Junk mail, I didn’t bother researching the facts and figures behind this. Who reads junk mail?

Nope, in Room 101 you go.

Cold calling

Christ alive! Even worse than junk mail.

It’s like a hydra with a headset, the more you chop the heads off, the more it comes back – asking you about that car accident you had that one vague time.

Time to die a death.

a man in a suit slamming a phone down

Pay Per Click Marketing Has The Answers

For highly focused, immediate results nothing beats PPC marketing and any way you cut it Google is the go to platform.

“They are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys. Which means that sooner or later, someone is going to have to fight them”

Morpheus on Google ads (or the machines, I forget), The Matrix, 1999

Interestingly, someone is fighting Google Ads. The US Department of Justice is suing Google for a monopoly of digital advertising. Another story for another day but it shows how much power the tech giant holds.

PPC advertising is pretty much instant, and when executed correctly it offers value for money which is difficult to find elsewhere.

Does this mean more traditional forms of advertising are obsolete?

Not really.


Yes PPC is an incredibly powerful form of marketing, but let’s not forget it’s not going to reach all demographics, most but not all. PPC advertising relies on a potential customer knowing what they want and searching for it.

What about good old fashioned consumerism? Think back to the crazy toy adverts of the 90’s. As a kid I didn’t know I wanted a Super Soaker 8,000 with built-in Pokemon card holder. After seeing an advert though, you know what I wanted?

A Super Soaker 8,000 with built-in Pokemon card holder!

a wet thai man with a yellow and red water gun

Blatant consumerism aside, a good marketing campaign should look to push its message out on multiple channels. Wherever your audience is, it’s a good idea to have a consistent presence. Think back to the touchpoints discussed earlier, a well devised campaign should look to maximise these touchpoints with an on brand message.

This is where traditional forms of adverts excel, often at the beginning of the buying cycle, get the customer interested in your product – use PPC to close the deal.