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Is Digital Marketing the New Marketing?

We are now in a fully-fledged digital age. The internet of things is fast becoming reality, mobile phones scan codes on products bought in a shop, and even toddlers are naturals with touch-screen technology. 

We are at the stage where digital interaction is unavoidable throughout our daily lives – but has it now absorbed the more traditional world of marketing?

Although there is still very much a place for traditional marketing – posters, TV adverts etc – we can’t ignore that they are now created with digital in mind. It would be difficult to find a poster, flyer, or billboard that does not contain a reference to a website or social media handle.

To work out the answer to the question above, we should look back at how digital marketing first started. The first instances of pay per click (PPC) advertising being used was in the mid-90’s on a web directory called Planet Oasis – closely followed by Google introducing their PPC model, AdWords, in the early 2000’s.

Other players included (later to become Yahoo! Advertising and the UK’s espotting).

PPC networks came and went, but this, largely, was digital marketing. But as mobile devices advanced, so too did our reliance on the internet. The marketing world quickly realised this, and began to give a larger focus on digital marketing strategies such as social media campaigns and engaging multi-media web content.

At this point, digital marketing could not just be a single PPC campaign and still be effective amongst consumers. Strong campaigns were needed, which began to cover a wider scope of marketing resources: email, SEO, content writing and social media etc. If we take a closer look at what defines marketing, we can divide it into two areas: paid and unpaid.

Digital marketing umbrella
Digital marketing umbrella

We can also see that all of these areas under the umbrella relate to digital marketing, as well as traditional marketing. 

Most campaigns using any of these techniques today are likely to drive traffic to the web. With this in mind, it is very clear that there would be no difference if the umbrella was labeled, ‘digital marketing’.

There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that there is now just as much work involved in creating a successful digital campaign than there is for traditional marketing. Adding a hashtag to a comment, or quickly generating a meme in the hope it will go viral is not enough to guarantee marketing success. It requires much more effort and strategy – the figures speak for themselves …

  • 46%of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision. (Marissa’s Picks)
  • Social media’s share of total marketing budgets will grow from 10% in 2015 to 14% in 2016, while offline advertising spend will fall by 2%. (Webbiquity)
  • As consumers grow more used to the older forms of digital marketing like display ads, we see they have become less tolerant. Last year, worldwide, nearly 200 million internet users installed ad blocking software.  (PageFair)
  • 76% of digital marketers will produce more content in 2016. (usabillablog)
  • 90% of young adults (aged 18 – 29) use social media, with over a third of millenials saying their preferred way of communicating with brands is via social. (Business2community)
  • And yet 50% of young adults say they enjoy consuming print media, in part due to the “emotional void” at the heart of digital compared with the deeper and more immersive experience of consuming print (exploiting this phenonmenon is how websites such as have gained traction) (Iron Mountain)

These stats show that marketers need to adopt all types of traditional marketing into their digital strategies more than ever. At which point, is there really any distinction between traditional and digital marketing?

We can, however, see some differences between traditional marketing and digital marketing that are a huge advantage and have achieved new levels of advertising effectiveness in recent years. Remarketing and social media ads have been able to reach customers on an unprecedented personal level, creating huge advancements in brand loyalty.

On social channels such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc., users can now be targeted in a much more personal way as networks utilise the big data they collect from users eager to exchange privacy for social convenience. It’s clear that when designing a new campaign, marketers must consider all media, including outdoor, radio, print etc., but for many businesses we have now reached the time of digital-first, traditional second.

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