Home Big Business Digital Advertising: A Quick & Painful Death

Digital Advertising: A Quick & Painful Death


Digital Advertising Is Losing To Traditional Advertising

This is highly contrary to popular belief, the fact that digital advertising is not nearly as effective as some of the oldest, tried-and-true methods of advertising, or should I say, sales!

This will come as such a shock to so many in the marketing industry for one simple reason – they’ve been repeatedly told how beneficial online presence is for the last 8 – 10 years now. The problem is that data has never really been analyzed, and assumptions were made based on a dying print media industry (the big newspapers). However, do you believe there is a reason why USA Today can still charge $100,000 for a front-page ad whereas Google can only charge $15 for a first-page placement? Google’s audience is much more “massive” than typical newspapers, but its advertising is just not going to offer the same return on investment as traditional ads will. Why is this?

Google Only Shows You What You Think You Want

Search advertising is based on the premise that they should deliver content that is relevant to what people are already interested in looking for. They want to give you ads that are in-line most with what you’re thinking about at the time of your search. Seems like an effective strategy, and it obviously is. But it’s missing a part of the advertising market share that it will never get – which is that part of the share that shows you an ad about something you were NOT thinking about, but MIGHT catch your attention regardless.

See, people don’t always think linearly. Attention spans are smaller than the average time a commercial takes to finish playing on TV. In fact, you might have even noticed that YouTube offers video ad slots that are only 5 seconds long. You might also notice that many of the advertisements on YouTube are not even remotely relevant to what you are trying to watch – but they get watched, don’t they. They get watched because the advertiser caught your attention at some point within the first 5 seconds and convinced you to look at something you were not previously thinking of looking at.

Newspapers, TV, and radio still accomplish this. It is a pipe dream to think that one day they will not be able to catch a potential buyer’s attention, whether they were thinking about it or not. In a way, I could see how Google’s model of advertising actually limits a person’s perspective. In an effort to be more simple for the user, they have cultivated a generation of simple users.

Search Engines Aren’t Always Trusted

This does not just apply to the baby boomer generation (you know, that one generation who still has all the money to buy your stuff)! An ad on Google is so easy to get. There is virtually no barrier to entry to get an ad placed on Google and you can be on page 1 for your keyword in a few minutes. The solution here is also the problem. Whereas a full color, half page newspaper ad might cost much more money, take time to develop, and require at least two parties to approve of the design before it goes into print, this is also exactly why it remains one of the most trusted sources of advertisement. If it were not true, the biggest and most successful brands would stop using them as a medium of attention.

So What Good Is Google Then?

Google AdWords still has an important role in my opinion, and therefore so does social media advertising – testing. You can test the response rate of a phrase, image, or video on Google and YouTube. If it does well, take it to print and take it to television. Let the people vote with their dollars how well your ad worked on the digital front and then use what works in a more trusted format.

But What About SEO?

SEO is getting harder and harder to do, but it is still a great strategy to get your brand out there, because it DOES help you cover the online fronts and shows your brand to people who are looking for something you offer or someone like you. It should not be discounted as a poor choice to allocate ad dollars. I suppose the biggest piece of the puzzle to consider here is this: SEO and advertising in general only offers you inbound leads. Inbound leads are warm leads and sometimes they are leads which are at least half sold or even buy-ready. This is what SEO and advertising does for you – they are an extension of what you cannot do, which is be absolutely everywhere all the time.

90% Of Sales Are Done In Person

This brings me to my final point – salesmanship. Your ability to go out and make a name for yourself by cold-calling, appointment setting, door-knocking and networking is going to be 90% of the revenue you make in any case. Response rates are generally low across the board. Even with a top-listing on Google from SEO, this may only increase your overall sales by 10% roughly. In extremely well-planned and executed campaigns, up to 40% is possible too.

But the fact remains that 90% of all B2B sales are still done offline and in-person. You will close the sales deal for your business roughly 1 in 20 times by your own efforts, whereas you might also require 1,000 impressions / visits to your website to achieve the exact same result – a sale.


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    • Might sound hard to believe but people always buy more when they are exposed to multiple forms of advertising, whether they wanted to see one or not. But this is also about liberty. You never want all of the industry to be consolodated into one place, like Google is trying to do.