“Over five years, P&G is aiming for $2 billion in marketing cuts, including media, with a heavy emphasis on cleaning up the digital supply chain” AdAge
On one hand, consumers are moving towards online medium. On the other, marketers like P&G are turning away from it. What is going on? Should we, as marketers, move towards online marketing or offline marketing?
Online or Offline?
Are these ‘lines’ blurring or are they firmly drawn?
First lets do a quick recap of the basics, then get into further debate.
Above The Line (ATL) + Below The Line (BTL) = Offline Marketing
It all started with BTL marketing which is a fancy way to say local/retail/shop floor marketing (leaflet distribution, guerrilla marketing, customer activations, etc). Merchants of yore used to do it in bazaars while present day shop owners and retailers do it in their vicinity and their stores.
With the invention of TV, Radio, Print, OOH (the mass media) came ATL. It worked wonders for decades till it suddenly didn’t. Because internet was born, giving birth to ‘Online Marketing’.
Within a few years of birth, it became a fully mature, strutting adult with email marketing, SMM, SEM, performance marketing, etc. It enabled marketers to move from Mass Media Communication to Mass One-To-One Communication using big data and analytics. AI in marketing enabled more granular tracking of spends, performance, impact, etc.
“India is perhaps the last large global media market that is still predominantly offline…India generates roughly $10B in ad revenue, but digital accounts for only about 15% of that” ThinkwithGoogle
Online marketing isnt as big in India as it is worldover, but even then, Indian marketers are showing keen interest in it, thinking offline marketing is dying.
Why else are digital marketing skills in such high demand in India and globally? Why are marketers told that if you want to stay employed and relevant, upskill and get some digital marketing chops?
“In 2017, marketers with digital skills, especially those with digital advertising and content expertise, are the most in demand by employers, according to research from McKinley Marketing Partners” Marketingprofs
Offline traditional media is NOT dead. It’s just that no one is talking about it. It is a well oiled machine, operating on autopilot, handled by old established media agencies. Hence, marketers don’t NEED to talk about it. But everyone needs to talk about social media marketing because that is comparatively new, DIY, low cost. Marketers are expected to ‘Do-It-Themselves’, to an extent. But that does not mean, people are not consuming offline media or that it’s ineffective.
Offline trumps online in creating brand awareness and growth
Marketers wrongly PERCEIVE online marketing as more effective.
“With the exception of TV, advertisers undervalue traditional media, especially radio…They overrate the value of online video and paid social. There is a clear disconnect between the scale of investment in online media and the value it delivers. Re-evaluating the media mix may help advertisers better achieve long-term brand growth.”- Ebiquity, The Drum
Source: Ebiquity Research, 2018
Offline traditional media is still very much alive and kicking or as Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman said “TV is not dying, it is having babies” (OTT, recorded TV, et al).
Offline works better because…
1. More people are offline than online
As per Statista, only 464 million Indians have access to internet as on January 2018 i.e. less than 1% of the Indian population.
2. Nothing beats traditional broadcast media when it comes to creating mass appeal, awareness and brand aspiration
Because of the hyper personalization of online ads, the ad that I see will most surely not be the ad that my friend sees. The ad will fail to enter our conversations – ‘Hey did you see that new ad or this new product?’
Thus, as beautifully explained by Kevin Simler, the online ad is not common knowledge. It cannot build a common perception of the advertised product.
Example: I see an online ad saying ‘Smells Nice’ perfume brand is worn by the rich and famous. I want my friends and network to think of ME as rich and famous. So I am tempted to buy this perfume. But I know that since it was an online ad, chances are, my friends would not have seen it. So will they get awed when I wear it? Will they have the same aspirational image for the brand that I have? NO. This may demotivate me from making the purchase.
Communication should get people talking. Why else would internet giants like Google, Flipkart, Amazon need to advertise on TV? Because they need mass awareness and conversations.
3. Expensiveness of traditional media shows you mean business
Because it is comparatively more expensive than online, offline media lends a certain legitimacy to a business that advertises on it. Anyone having the money to advertise on expensive media is less likely to be a fly-by-night operator.
4. Transparent and fraud-free
Even though online marketing is low cost, measurable, targeted iit has transparency issues, unethical practices like displaying ads in wrong places or ads being viewed by bots instead of humans, etc. Traditional offline media, by its nature, doesn’t pose such problems.
5. Bigger IS better
Advertisements on television take up the entire screen, without distractions and in the spotlight. Ads on YouTube or Facebook take up only 30% or 10% of the screen respectively, susceptible to getting ignored or overlooked.
6. Activates Senses
Offline marketing like guerrilla marketing/ customer activation or even print innovation, activates multiple senses, making for a more enriching experience with the brand, unlike online ads which activate only sight and sound.
So don’t give up on offline marketing just yet. Balance it with digital and you should be home.
(This Guest Post is written by Jinal Shah (Serial Ideator and Marketing Strategist). Her website www.ifiweremarketing.com has featured in Feedspot’s Top 100 Marketing Websites, 2017 and 2018. When she is not strategizing and ideating, she gets lost in a nice historical thriller or online shopping or is cracking PJs (really poor ones)!)