We recently hosted a webinar, with our partners at AdAge and Ad Results Media, to discuss the evolution of traditional marketing channels into performance marketing powerhouses. This panel discussion of thought leaders from the worlds of TV, radio, out of home, live events and beyond explored how recent advancements in ad targeting, offline attribution, and measurement—coupled with a greater need for flexibility, transparency, and accountability in marketing—has fundamentally transformed traditional marketing channels for good. Here, we’ll take a quick look at some of the key highlights of this engaging conversation.

Traditional media today is not the same as it was yesterday

It’s been clear for a long time now that, in order to keep up with digital, traditional media would eventually have to reinvent itself from the ground up. Little did anyone know, however, that the pandemic would be the catalyst accelerating this evolution in a number of ways.

We’re starting to see this play out as the world begins to open up again. After a year of relying on all things digital as our de facto life line into the real world, everyone is ready to branch out.  For all we know, there could be a massive pendulum swing away from digital in the coming months as people get their post-pandemic “sea legs” and work towards a new normal. This doesn’t necessarily mean that digital is going to lose steam anytime soon; it just means people will likely want a bit more variety after being tethered to their digital devices over the past year.

This has created a window of opportunity for traditional marketing channels—including the brands and advertisers that still use them in full force—to not only find points of convergence with digital media, especially around measurement and attribution, but also to think more broadly about the new space these channels can own in the soon-to-be post-pandemic world.

Unfortunately, as much as the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of traditional media, there are still a few hurdles to overcome, most predominantly:

1. Traditional media is still misunderstood

For starters, many people still don’t see traditional media as a performance marketing channel. There’s this ongoing perception that traditional media is designed specifically for splashy brand campaigns or awareness-driving initiatives alone.

As Alexis Ohanian put it, marketing today is about “doing the performance side of building the marketing business, the analytical part, the data-driven part, as well as the creative brand side.” He also suggested that even as little as 10 years ago, a CMO could get away with being an expert at the “razzle-dazzle creative side of marketing.”
But today, marketers must be able to straddle both sides effectively in order to drive cost-effective user acquisition. Part of this requires seeing traditional media in an entirely new light. And that alone is not only changing the relationship brands have with traditional media today but also giving brands a reason to rethink their marketing mix moving forward.

2. Traditional and digital media can amplify each other

While there’s been a lot of talk about online-to-offline attribution, there’s been less fanfare around offline-to-online attribution because many marketers just don’t know how to measure it (more on that point soon) or haven’t really used it to its full potential.

Kapor Center CMO, Jeanette Jordan talked about the intersection of traditional and digital as the cornerstone of their “Smash the Vote” campaign in 2020. They used digital channels to get people out of their homes and over to polling locations in safe and socially-distanced ways. They also expanded the campaign to include OOH experiential marketing and created a digital queuing system—where people could arrive, check-in with their cell phone number, and then get notified when it was their turn to vote. Not only did this help people avoid waiting in lines for hours, but it also addressed voters’ safety and health concerns head on. And then taking that a step further, they engaged local restaurants, owned and operated by people of color, to put up pop-up food trucks to make the voting experience more pleasant, all while creating new opportunities to support local businesses impacted by the pandemic.

While the use of technology isn’t new to the live events and activations space, this is a perfect example of how traditional and digital media can work together seamlessly to drive real impact. As Jordan so aptly put it, coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, “we just really need to continue thinking about [the convergence of traditional and digital media] as a two-way street instead of one or the other.”

“OOH is the only kind of advertising that can actually go viral. When we think about reinventing traditional media, there’s really no better example.”
~ Alexis Ohanian

3. Traditional media is more measurable than ever before

AdQuick CEO and Co-Founder, Matt O’Connor and Ad Results Media Partner and CRO, Steve Shanks discussed how the rules of engagement for out-of-home advertising and audio-based (radio and podcast) marketing have evolved in a massive way over the past few years.

“Out-of-home advertising is now becoming more middle to lower funnel,” explained O’Connor. “We’re now giving advertisers a granular view into which locations, media types, or creatives are performing better or worse than others...giving them what they love about digital and pure performance and bringing it into the real world.” This has been a game changer for many brands that still considered out-of-home as a purely brand-centric medium. Given the fact that pretty much everyone walks around today with a digital device in-hand—or in close proximity—the friction between traditional and digital media is now decreasing. O’Connor continued, “the intimacy of technology is making out-of-home a lot more actionable.”

Much of the same applies to the audio space as well. “Radio, specifically, used to be seen as just a pure reach and frequency channel,” said Shanks, with many marketers with their heads still stuck in that space. However, the emergence of podcasts and other audio content has essentially become the yin to the yang of traditional radio. Shanks continued, “radio is linear, which means people tune in and out, whereas a podcast is really an opt-in channel.” The way people engage with podcasts is quite different from traditional radio. There’s no urgency to listen to podcasts in real-time. People can listen to them when their schedules permit. And this has created a new dynamic that opens up lower funnel brand engagement opportunities that augments—and even amplifies—some of the reach and frequency benefits of radio.

Long story short: Traditional media has become much more sophisticated from a measurement standpoint in recent years, which has given marketers a reason to rethink how they use certain traditional channels to address lower funnel marketing objectives.

“Don’t just focus on top-tier OOH markets by default anymore. Doing so means you essentially miss out on at least 50% of available inventory, some of which will resonate even more with your target audience.”
~ Matt O’Connor, CEO and Co-Founder at AdQuick

Ready to change your view of traditional media?

These are just a few of the highlights from this really insightful conversation. But there’s a lot more where that came from. If you are ready to reinvent your relationship with traditional media, be sure to watch our webinar, “Reinventing Traditional Media: How to Turn Traditional Media Channels into Powerful Performance Drivers” on replay now.