Top 3 Pros and Cons of Traditional and Digital Marketing

Marketing has become a crucial part of any business’ plan, no matter the industry. Marketing is what keeps a brand relevant to consumers and gains them an advantage against competitors in their market.

However, depending on your business’ size and budget, it can be hard to know what marketing avenues you should explore. You may see competitors that have billboards or other print ads, some that operate solely online, and others that choose both. It can be confusing to know which approach to take when considering all your goals and your target audience.

Below we’ve described both traditional and digital marketing to give you a better sense of what they truly mean. Then we listed three pros and cons to each type.

What Is Traditional Marketing?

Some business owners and advertisers might say certain forms of traditional marketing are not worth the time. However, traditional marketing, or advertising, is still a viable option for many brands. It all comes down to your brand and your goals.

Traditional marketing includes:

  • Broadcast ads (radio and television),
  • Print ads (magazines, newspapers, and brochures),
  • Telephone (SMS marketing and telemarketing), and
  • Outdoor or Out-Of-Home ads (posters, fliers, and billboards).

Traditional marketing has a vertical structure since the message starts with the advertisers, then goes to the network, (television network, radio show, billboard company, magazine, etc.) and then down to the consumer.

This type of media has one-way communication, meaning the brand is conveying a message to the consumer but the consumer doesn’t directly respond back. So, businesses won’t know how consumers will react until their campaign has officially launched.

There’s a generalization made about traditional media that it’s expensive. While it can cost more than various digital tactics, it shouldn’t be ruled out entirely. For example, radio ads can be cost effective and help you reach local audiences.

We created a list of three pros and three cons about traditional marketing below.

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Marketing


  • Has a broader reach, so potential clients aren’t missed
  • Doesn’t rely on consumers having the internet
  • More widely accessible since anyone can see a billboard, read a magazine, newspaper, read print advertisement, or listen to the radio


  • Reaches a lot of people but not all the people are interested
  • More difficult to measure ROI
  • Less effective on younger demographics

What is Digital Marketing?

In our technology-dependent society, everything seems to have gone digital and marketing is no exception. Digital marketing became vastly useful for all brands and leveled the playing field for many smaller brands.

Digital marketing includes:

  • Search Engine Marketing and Optimization
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising
  • Programmatic Advertising (digital out-of-home, online, streaming, TV, video, audio, display, and native ads)
  • Website
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing (such as blogs)
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Email marketing

Basically, if the ad or marketing effort is online, it’s digital marketing. As traditional marketing has a vertical structure, digital marketing has a more horizontal structure.

There are still ways the ads are coming from advertisers to networks to consumers; however, with examples like social media there’s a peer-to-peer interaction. With content and social media marketing, brands can foster two-way communication where they present a message and consumers can give instant feedback.

With digital marketing, ads are generally in consumers’ feeds and aren’t interrupting in nature. TV commercials interrupt a consumer’s show or news program. Meanwhile PPC ads, that show up when a consumer searches on Google, are in the feed with all search results and Instagram ads are in the feed amongst the posts of a user’s feed.

Specific aspects of digital marketing can get very technical and convoluted to the average business owner. This is why agencies have specialists that work on programmatic advertising or Pay-Per-Click and SEO. However, overall digital is much more accessible to the average person compared to traditional.

Below we listed the three pros and cons of digital marketing.

The Pros and Cons of Digital Marketing


  • More engaging and allows for instant feedback
  • Can target and put ads in front of those more likely to buy or interact with the brand
  • Can be cost effective


  • Technical aspects can require an expert
  • Sometimes the control is out of your hands since the ads live on other platforms, such as Facebook or WordPress
  • A lot of noise and an abundance of ads online so there’s a chance a brand’s ad can get lost in the mix


In the world we live in now, all brands need to have some digital presence, at the very least in the form of a website. Traditional marketing is tried and true and has been tested over decades. So, experts say neither type will be cast aside any time soon.

Generally, brands use a mixture of traditional and digital, in order to reap the benefits of both and avoid putting all their eggs in one basket. As we mentioned before, what you choose to incorporate in your marketing plan depends on your unique business and your consumers.

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