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Evolution of the Media Mix - How Traditional and Digital Marketing Work Together

May 5, 2019 | By Amber Aldrich

As a 122-year-old newspaper company, The Seattle Times appears to be the epitome of traditional media, with the news still published in printed form, just as it was in 1897 when the presses first ran. However, like many businesses and brands, we’ve changed our business model to embrace the needs of the market. In our news, we reach audiences in print, desktop, mobile, email and social channels.  In our advertising, we now offer digital marketing services, where we help clients reach audiences beyond that of The Seattle Times Our services include search, social, email, targeted display, review management and much more. We are both a traditional media company, and a digital agency, with a unique perspective on how traditional and digital media work together.

For The Seattle Times, that reinvention happened around the time Steve Jobs and others first introduced the great disruptor of our time – the smartphone . As a newspaper company, we had seen disruptors before – the radio, then television and the internet. Each threatened the daily newspaper as a mainstay, and naysayers predicted its replacement and demise.

The smartphone, however, meant that not only had media changed, but so too had the consumer journey. No longer did consumers become aware of a product or service and then visit a store to make a purchase. They now were becoming exposed to brands digitally, and were able to research them digitally as well. Thanks to the smartphone, this esearch was happening around the clock, in any location; through web and voice searches, in article, video and social and email formats. There were more digital touchpoints in the research and consideration phase than ever before, presenting a challenge for marketers to reach customers at every point of their digital journey.

To address the challenge of balancing traditional and digital media, we began to look at it through the lens of the consumer funnel. While The Seattle Times and other traditional media remained powerful at the top of the funnel in the awareness stage, digital marketing, through the endless data collected in a person’s web history, allows marketers to target consumers at every stage of their journey.

We now serve over 300 clients per year with digital managed services, some of which include no Seattle Times Advertising  at all.  We help clients drive awareness through the power of our broad reach, but also reach very specific audiences through additional digital marketing services. We recommend a media mix, with digital marketing as the foundation of an effective marketing plan.

We’ve learned a lot from servicing some of Seattle’s strongest brands, on what it takes to have effective cross-channel marketing strategy.  Here is some of what we now know:

Traditional Media drives Trust and Brand Affinity – Consumers trust traditional media, and they trust brands that are associated with traditional media. Whether it’s print, television, radio or outdoor, when consumers are familiar with your brand, they are more likely to convert when they see your digital ads. Don’t make the mistake of pulling back from traditional media completely to power your digital marketing. Allocate 25-50% of your budget to awareness tactics including traditional media.

Consider Audience First – Traditional media like newspaper, radio and television usually reach a wide and broad audience, but often targeting is limited.  While traditional media allows you to broadcast messages widely, digital marketing is your best bet for targeting a very specific audience. A local tourist attraction for example, advertised a popular new exhibit broadly in the Seattle Times, but used social media and a paid email list to target parents for summer camps.  Make sure your creative speaks to various audiences differently for the best conversion performance.

Don’t compare apples to oranges in your analytics – The array of metrics available in digital marketing far surpass traditional marketing. However, marketers often make the mistake of assigning credit to the last click or digital touch point, or using the same metrics to judge success between traditional and digital marketing. Traditional media will rarely drive as many phone calls as search marketing for example, but it will fill the consumer funnel and help your digital marketing perform better.  Instead, judge traditional marketing by audience or impressions, and measure lift on overall site traffic, branded searches, and digital marketing engagement to monitor movement down the funnel.

Have a holistic approach to marketing – Above all, traditional and digital marketing work together, and you and your agency partners should have a holistic approach of the media mix, and a thorough understanding of digital marketing, which is no doubt crucial to any marketing campaign.  Marketers and partners that focus on only one portion of the funnel will have limited ability to maximize effectives, or ability to deploy a comprehensive, omni-channel campaign designed to drive results.

Disruption has happened before and it will happen again. As long as audiences continue to engage with traditional media, it remains a relevant and powerful piece of the evolving marketing mix.

Learn more at Market Mix, May 8th at Meydenbuer Center in Bellevue, including two case studies from Seattle University: School of New and Continuing Studies and School of Theology and Ministry.  

The Seattle Times Media Solutions is a comprehensive marketing agency with unprecedented knowledge of the Northwest market and competitive landscape. We partner with local businesses to identify opportunities, develop customized, holistic, data-driven strategies and deliver measurable outcomes. From strategy and execution to reporting and account management, we are your full-service marketing partner.

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