Like two siblings vying for a parent’s attention, digital and traditional advertising have been fighting for advertisers' attention since digital came of age in the post-dot-com bubble era. Many have portrayed this as a war between generations, where the old guard “just didn’t get it.” But this shouldn’t be seen as a battle of relevance between old and young or a battle for the billions of dollars of media that advertisers spend. Because the losers in a war of this kind are not just the advertisers, but also the consumers they serve.
While we all should acknowledge the rise of digital advertising as a strategic media channel in an advertiser’s arsenal, the more beneficial point of view is one where we get rid of the “zero-sum game” model where one wins and the other loses. Instead, we should take an “additive” point of view, where advertising itself evolves and new tools and perspectives develop to meet advertiser and consumer needs.
This need to evolve can no longer be ignored by the old guard, as the young upstart digital has finally usurped TV as the dominant advertising media by spend. In 2017, digital marketing overtook television advertising for the first time. According to reports, TV advertising generated $178 billion worldwide with digital reaching $209 billion.
While the great marketing divide debated traditional vs. digital and old vs. new, TV and digital marketers went to battle by picking sides. However, actual consumer consumption trends don’t support this. According to the August 2018 Nielsen report, people are actually watching more -- not less -- media, especially when you factor in consumption on tablets, smartphones and the web. On top of that, adults in the U.S. actually spent more time watching live TV each day (16 minutes more) in 2018 than they did in 2017.
Have we thought about media usage wrong and, in turn, are making decisions because it’s been a "one or the other" mentality?