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Industry Insights Digital Marketing Advertising

Back to the future: why offline is the new edge for innovative brands

By Mark Walker, Marketing Director


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November 22, 2018 | 6 min read

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Given that you’re reading this article on your phone or laptop, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world is very firmly dominated by digital media. An article about the decline of digital and the resurgence of traditional advertising, therefore, may seem a little crazy at first. But consider the following.

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Why offline is the new edge for innovative brands

Last year, print display ad revenues rose for the first time in seven years. Radio recorded its strongest growth in four years (+12.5%), while out-of-home and television advertising saw growth of +5.3% and +5% over the last quarter.

Meanwhile, Facebook lost over a million European users so far this year. Snapchat lost five million. And according to Nielsen, the time people spend on Facebook fell by 24%, while the cost of advertising there soared by 43%.

Perhaps most incredible of all though: Procter & Gamble, a heavyweight investor in traditional media, cut their digital ad spend by $200 million, and saw an increase in reach of 10%.

What is behind this pendulum swing? And how can you take full advantage of this new reality as you plan for 2019?

What’s changed?

Simple economics is the first driver. As users leave social platforms like Facebook and Snapchat, or spend less time on them, and more companies invest more money into them, we start to see the supply and demand ratio altering. This ultimately makes it more expensive to reach your audience.

Trust has also eroded. One of the most attractive things about digital media was its inherent measurability, where everything can be tracked. However, with dozens of recent reports showing how rife fake accounts are, the prevalence of bot traffic, and inflated metrics being reported by the platforms themselves, the trust in digital attribution has plummeted.

The complex nature of digital campaign management is also making it increasingly difficult for some brands to be confident in their approach, as highlighted in this illuminating New York Times post: “No matter what new ads they put in an ad set, the growth rate of sales declined and the cost per acquisition went up.”

And whilst consumer attitudes and behaviours change frequently, this is nothing compared to chasing the latest algorithm updates. Entire businesses can be decimated overnight when there’s a change in how a platform’s algorithm works. As the NY Times observed, “[When] Facebook announced that it had adjusted its news-feed algorithm…[Upworthy’s] total page views decline by half in the span of three months, from 90 million to 48 million visitors.

It makes running great digital campaigns a little like trying to grasp a greased pig; and building a brand on Facebook the equivalent to building a house on sand. Even worse, these changes are rapidly leading to higher costs, reduced outcomes and therefore diminishing returns.

Smart brands, who can see beyond the easy metrics provided by digital platforms, are increasingly looking back to the future to get an edge.

How to find your new edge

There is a new era dawning for above-the-line (ATL) media. But how can savvy marketers take the lessons they’ve learned from successful digital campaigns, and apply them to ‘traditional’ media channels?

Pre-testing at speed & scale in this instance becomes a must. With Facebook you can simply upload a handful of different creatives and leave it to the algorithms to determine which works best.

That’s simply not possible when you’re thinking about the big out-of-home campaigns, or indeed even TV and radio advertising. Instead what you need to find a tool that offers you this level of confidence in your creatives, with granular feedback and qualitative insights so you can iterate to the right outcome faster.

Dynamic Media Planning should also be a major component of your ATL campaign strategy. This takes the agile approach to digital and applies it to traditional media buying. With the strong growth in digital out-of-home displays, and more flexible ways to buy (and broadcast) radio and TV spots, these formats are quickly catching up with digital in their responsiveness.

However, you’ll still need ways to determine which spots to buy in order to reach your target audience; to adjust your message to capture a particular zeitgeist; and to quickly test your chosen creatives against your target audience.

Last but not least, you should be as rigorous in your measurement of ATL marketing as you are with digital. The good news here is that you can enjoy greater confidence in the data than you can with digital, where self-reported (‘marking your own homework’) metrics dominate, as do the means by which to easily manipulate the data.

With the right approach to ATL measurement, you’ll be able to build a more stable and believable system for tracking success across your campaigns. The results can still be segmented by channel, audience, and even creatives; all mapped against key metrics such as brand awareness, affinity, consideration, purchase intent, NPS and sentiment, amongst others.

The common factor across each of these approaches to successful offline marketing campaigns is having a tool that provides you with robust data and actionable insights, at speed, allowing you to work with the same agility as digital.

This is where a scalable intelligence platform, such as Attest, can make all the difference. It will help you unlock the edge you need to outcompete those who’re too focused on a digital-only strategy.

To learn more, and to tap into the incredible value offered by a rapidly evolving set of ‘traditional’ media channels, get in touch with Attest today.

Mark Walker, Marketing Director, Attest.

Twitter: @askattest


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