Due to the rise of social media marketers face different challenges how to effectively convey their messages to their customers. The existing essay shows that marketers do not have to decide whether to implement digital media or traditional media only. In fact, digital media does not replace traditional means of communication and marketers must ensure to find the right balance between traditional and digital media. This is mainly dependent on the demographics of their target group, the medium the target group uses to gather information, and the amount of information marketers want to transfer which is reliant to the product being of low or high involvement.
There is no doubt that the way people communicate with each other these days has changed dramatically. This is also shown by the remarkable shift between the usage of traditional media and digital media. For instance, the internet, as a medium, has experienced a massive 528.10% growth rate from 2000 to 2011 (Chao, Corus, & Li, 2012). Chao, Corus & Li (2012) further point out, that Facebook’s revenue from advertising totalled at 3.15 billion in 2011 what equals an incredible 85% of its overall revenue. The implied change in consumer behaviour introduces a new way of communication too. Customers now have the freedom to solely decide where and when they are willing to be confronted with advertising messages (Rishi, 2011). Moreover, Rishi (2011) explains that many of nowadays’ customers use platforms such as blogs or forums that advertisers, in return, may use as platforms for communicating their message as well. The development of how society uses media and communicates through them these days poses a new challenge to marketers. On the one hand, marketers must understand how to use these new media to properly transfer their massage and, on the other hand, must also understand the probable limitations that these new communication channels hold.
Thus, this paper will firstly have a closer look at advertising through traditional media. A researched example will provide an understanding of whether or not traditional media are still an acceptable means of advertising for marketers. Subsequently, the essay will define the scope of digital and social media and outline the importance of digital media being on the rise. Moreover, the essay will address the challenges that marketers will face due to the extensive usage of digital media alongside traditional media and highlight the limitations that e-media might pose. Finally, this paper will come up with relevant suggestions how to address the obvious change of customer behaviour regarding the use of traditional versus digital media.
The following part of the essay will now explain the role of traditional media in nowadays’ media landscape and highlight whether or not it still has legitimacy these days.
Wergin and Muller (2012) conducted a research on the effectiveness of traditional and digital media using a small furniture store named Freed’s Fine Furnishings (FFF) in the United States. Up to now, in terms of traditional media, the company relied on newspaper print, television, direct mail and radio. In order to measure the effectiveness of the respective media the company placed a coupon on each of the media with a particular code to identify the respective medium and thereby tracked the responsiveness of their customers. The results of the survey were of no big surprise for the company. The returned coupons revealed that FFF’s customer base is an older married female with above income. A further investigation of the poll asked for the primary source where customers actually draw their information about current promotion. 71% of the respondents acknowledged that they generally use the local newspaper’s print edition to hear from the company’s latest promotions. Moreover, 52% of the people surveyed stated that they would like to learn about future promotion through newspaper print advertising and 34% of them revealed to prefer receiving direct mails to become aware of the latest promotions (Wergin & Muller, 2012). These results already expose the still significant role that these very traditional means of advertising play for the relevant target group. Eventually, Wergin’s and Muller’s (2012) research concluded that the company should stick with traditional media, such as newspaper print, spearheading their advertising strategy as it is a very suitable one for their target group. In addition, Chao, Corus & Li (2012) found out that traditional media advertising means create almost the same view of a message to respondents as online media. Their research further discovered that people still believe of traditional media advertising to be much more effective (Chao, et al., 2012). Hence, marketer should still rely on the implication of traditional media.
After having highlighted the role of traditional media in today’s advertising world the subsequent part of this essay will elaborate the evolvement of digital media over the last decades and highlight the possibilities that this kind of media holds ready.
Digital media may consist of numerous categories. However, one of the more recent one that has evolved over the last years is social media. Pertaining to the definition of social media there are many descriptions available. However, Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) in their article define it as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, p. 61). This basically includes technologies such as blogs, social media games, Facebook profile pages or Wikipedia. That social media is indeed of utmost importance is proven by the facts that people in the United States spend 22% of their time in social networking accounts, worldwide more than 700 billion minutes per month are spent on Facebook and 30 billion pieces of content are shared within a month (Bright, Kleiser, & Grau, 2015). Regarding the demographics of social media users, scholars recognise a changing and important trend too. Social media once used to be the predominance of the younger and tech-savvy population. Nowadays, in contrast, digital media has reached a large number of the population (Stephen & Galak, 2012). With marketers leading the way, companies recognised this emerging trend. Therefore, already 83% of the companies listed in the Fortune 500 do already use some kind of social media in order to communicate with their customers (Mount & Garcia Martinez, 2014). Although social media has experienced a massive growth, scholars also stress that there will be a time when this phenomenon encounters fatigue too (Bright, Kleiser, & Grau, 2015).
However, pertaining to the above figures, social media sites are definitely a platform that companies, respectively their marketers, must currently embrace in order to seize advertising opportunities through this medium. Nevertheless, the internet itself as a medium to communicate has also become popular amongst marketers. The reasons behind are mainly its ability to enable communication, transactions and distribution. Hence, in terms of revenues being generated, advertising on the Internet has experienced a tremendous growth over the last decade (Rishi, 2011). It can be argued, that the increase of revenues through Internet advertising is a result of a growing number of people using the internet. As already outlined in the introduction the Internet as a medium grew by 528.10% between 2000 and 2011 (Chao, Corus, & Li, 2012).
The essay so far has shown that traditional as well as digital media have its legitimacy. FFF was cited as an example that traditional media can still be a preferred means of communication, depending on the target group that a particular company aims to address. With digital media on the rise marketers also do not get about including it in their company’s communication strategy. As both traditional and digital media have proven to be legitimate ways for advertising, it is a marketer’s challenge to balance the implementation of both of them in order to ensure the most effective way to bring across their messages. This view is also supported by Chao et al. (2012) who claim that online advertising has a large cross-effect on offline sales. Moreover, they conclude, that a survey’s respondents find traditional advertising on TV or in newspapers also more efficient than online media (Chao, et al. 2012). However, the authors summarise that online advertising seems not to be replacing traditional media at this stage, but is rather supplementing the usage of advertisements in traditional means of communication.
In order for companies to find the right balance to bring across their message the ‘media richness theory’ (MRT) is an approach that marketers can use to succeed (Maity & Dass, 2014). This theory is described of being “a set of objective characteristics, such as feedback and communication capability, language variety, and personal focus, which determine a channel’s ability to communicate richness of information” (Maity & Dass, 2014, p. 34). Therefore, face-to-face is said to be the richest medium as it enables a two-way feedback. A text-based communication, in contrast, has only little richness. Depending on how much information marketers would like to transmit they have to ensure to choose the right medium that offers the right level of richness so as to effectively convey the required message.
In conclusion, the existing essay finds that both traditional and digital media can coexist. Whether marketers shall advertise their products through traditional means of communication or use digital media is often dependent on the demographics of their customer base and hence the media that their target audience use to gather information. Also, the amount of information that marketers want to deliver to their customers is an essential element for them to decide what communication medium to use. This, in turn, will be reliant on the type of product a company offers. For instance, companies selling low involvement goods will rather choose a medium of low to medium richness as the information that need to be delivered are only a few and less complex. This would mainly refer to media such as newspaper print, radio or television. High involvement goods, however, will require a richer medium to transfer all the necessary information. Hence, interactive online chats, blogs or videos on social platforms can be a way to advertise products as such.
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