Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing – A Simple Guide

Digital vs traditional marketing

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing. Which is better? What brings more ROI? Which is more time and effort efficient? You must have heard one if not all of these questions while trying to design the perfect marketing campaign for your brand. So what is all the fuss about, and why has Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing become the Coke vs Pepsi debate of the marketers? Here’s everything about this debate you need to know.

What is Digital Marketing?

Going by the textbook definition: Digital marketing is the component of marketing that utilizes internet and online based digital technologies such as desktop computers, mobile phones and other digital media and platforms to promote products and services. 

Put simply, if you have ever published an ad on the internet for your brand or have come across an ad on the internet (THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!), then you are already aware of Digital Marketing.

What is Traditional Marketing?

Everything that does not, or cannot show up on the internet on the other hand, can be considered a part of Traditional Marketing. Ads on Billboards, Newspapers, Television, Radio and even on Hoardings outside stores are a part of Traditional Marketing. 

The main difference between Digital and Traditional Marketing, as mentioned, is that of mediums. While Digital Marketing can only show up on the internet, Traditional Marketing is all around you. It however, by no means is implied that digital marketing is less impactful as people spend most of their time being online anyway. The effect of a huge billboard cannot be replicated in the same way an Instagram Reel, can never be adapted on a billboard. 

Both Digital and Traditional Marketing have their own pros and cons and should be used wherever relevant. Achieving perfection in marketing may be a lost cause, but an effort towards it has caused a great divide between experts when it comes to Digital vs Traditional Marketing.

So Where Did The Divide Come From?

Up until the mid-90s, Traditional Marketing was the only type marketers could go with to promote their brands. After the introduction of the internet to millions of households in the latter part of the 90s, Digital Marketing became a possibility, giving marketers a bigger palette to choose from. 

While more choice should have been a good news to the marketers, it only added to the confusion they already had about the best practices to promote their brands. The decisions were now not only to be made about options available within the umbrella of Traditional Marketing. They were to be carefully analysed and compete with the dynamic and advanced strategies of Digital Marketing. 

It’s true that making a decision between the two can be a difficult choice for every marketer. Let’s go into the specifics of the Pros and Cons of both to see which one can fit your brand (and the budget) the best! 

Traditional Marketing Pros and Cons

Given the advancements of the Internet in the 21st Century, Traditional Marketing is often (mistakenly) given a backseat by a lot of marketers, especially the ones that are ill-informed. Traditional Marketing, even in the age of the internet can bring tremendous business and awareness for your brand and have Pros that surely outweigh its Cons:

Pros of Traditional Marketing

  • Longer Shelf Life: Printed words on magazines and newspapers, images on billboards and signs across the street are examples of Traditional Marketing’s longevity. Even if you manage to get an ad printed in your city’s local daily, the ad is going to be there through its entire life-cycle, giving your brand visibility for a prolonged period of time.
  • Easy To Understand and Create: Most of the Traditional Advertising is focused on a simple call to action. You only have a limited ad space on a newspaper and a limited time on the TV. Your best bet is to keep your message simple and clear so that it reaches your potential customers easily.
  • More Memorable: Seeing a cheeky ad on a billboard on your way back home will always be a memory that you’re going to carry with you for years. Compare it with the millions of ads you come across on the internet (most of which you skip past or even block) and you would realise how it is easier to be remembered when you market your brand through the Traditional Mediums.

Cons of Traditional Marketing

  • More Expensive: One of the biggest drawbacks of Traditional Marketing is that it can leave a severe hole in your company’s marketing budget. We are living in a time when a TV Ad Slot during the Superbowl in the US can cost more than a million dollars. Surely, a brand that is starting out with a tight budget cannot even dream of advertising on such a grand scale.
  • Difficult To Measure Returns: Digital Marketing has made it easy to track conversions and returns for the marketing. A big reason Traditional Marketing has fallen out of favour in the 21st Century is the lack of a proper method to measure returns from them. If a company is willing to shell out millions for an ad campaign, it’s only natural for them to look for reports that they can analyse to make wiser decisions for the future, a luxury Traditional Marketing often fails to provide.

Digital Marketing Pros and Cons

The number of users on the internet has grown substantially in the last two decades. Social Media giant Facebook boasts of a billion active users per month on Instagram. With over half the world active on the internet, Digital Marketing has become the new cool thing that every marketer wants to be accustomed with. In a similar fashion to Traditional Marketing, Digital Marketing also has its fair share of pros and cons, a quick list of which follows: 

Pros of Digital Marketing

  • Cost Effective: The internet is now such a big space that even small scale businesses and startups can find cost effective ways to promote their brand. Small ad campaigns on Facebook and Google, or even an in-house campaign on the brand’s social media handle can bring in great returns.
  • Easier to Measure Returns: Unlike Traditional Marketing, Digital Marketing comes with an array of tools to measure how your ad campaigns are doing over a period of time. This helps the brand in knowing what works for them and what doesn’t, leading to informed decisions.
  • Better User Engagement: Digital Marketing allows you to use social media to engage with your current and potential customers. Creating a small community for your customers helps your brand’s perception, leading to better results. 

Cons of Digital Marketing

  • Can Quickly Cause “Ad Fatigue”: Digital Ads are everywhere. The Ads have become so intrusive that people have started using ad blockers to have an ad-free experience on the internet. People are so tired of the brands that advertise on their preferred websites that they now consider them the enemy responsible for ruining their experience on the internet
  • Constantly Evolves: Digital Marketing is a dynamic industry, with new trends and rules being set up everyday. It requires a great deal of time and effort from the marketer’s part to be at the top of their game, a process that often proves to be exhausting. 


Both Traditional and Digital Marketing have their own pros and cons that can be underlined or ignored depending on the brand’s needs. While marketers will often try to prove one of the two to be the superior medium, the wisdom lies in using the best of both. 

Find what works best for your brand, a knowledge you can gather only when you study your target audience well. Using a mix of both, even when one works better than the other for you is still a fair call to take as both add something to your brand that the other medium might fail to.

You May Also Like