FKC – The Effectiveness of Traditional Media

Exploring the Effectiveness of Traditional Media in Reaching the 21st Century Consumer.

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There seems to be a widespread perception that 'traditional media' - Press, Radio and (to a lesser extent) TV, are second tier cousins to digital and social options. It's not true. However, we always refer to data, evidence and the truth. And, the simple truth is that the effectiveness of traditional media is still apparent, if not more when it comes to reaching an audience who are primed to listen and react.

There is an emerging body of strong independent research that shows traditional media provides a very robust platform for brand building and for response to new and emerging customer interests and demands. Radio is particularly interesting, given that perception of it as a valuable channel is low. The evidence suggests this is wholly wrong. The RAB recently published a whitepaper, Re-Evaluating Media, which explored the credibility of different mediums.

The main takeaway: combining evidence scores from all 12 attributes firmly places TV as the best performing medium, followed by radio, newspapers, magazines and out of home. Online display is the weakest performer. Worth noting that other research shows digital works incredibly well to support TV.

TV advertising is becoming more effective due in part to growing synergies with online, especially online video.

In this piece, we explore five key areas of consideration for your next campaigns.

1. Remember hidden factors and the lack of trust

There are some more hidden factors that make things interesting: traditional media is more trusted by consumers due to better regulation. Conversely, we see reputational problems developing with digital platforms. The recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica proves that data-driven media can be a minefield for consumers. There is little to no policing of the truth, which, when investigated can leave consumers feeling confused and violated.

So, on the one hand, we have more trust, and the other hand, what feels like a less trustworthy environment, in part due to the lower barrier to entry for digital advertising. What about the agency world though? Surely they can properly assess what is best for the client? After all, they are the pros.

2. Consider perception bias in agency world, and the possible reasons why

The mark up/rebate opportunities can be much higher for the media agencies with digital. As far as we understand it, there hasn’t been any study into this, but we know from human behaviour studies that people gravitate to the outcome that serves them best. 

Better financial opportunities in digital could be a factor in the distortion in perception we see evidenced in the Re-evaluating media study produced by Ebiquity. In essence, social and online are thought to perform much better than they actually do.

It’s hard to say whether higher rebates and mark-ups for digital influenced this bias, or it's younger, less experienced agency folk that are swayed by their own confirmation bias. Either way, it's not in the client's best interests.

3. Remember environment often an under-looked factor

Take a moment to consider your phone, or computer. How many different ways are there for you to be interrupted? It's a safe bet that for most people there are alerts, emails, SMS's, notifications, app updates etc. All these things distract people's attention.

We consume TV advertising at home. For the most part, the viewers are in an environment with fewer distractions. Yes, you can still second screen and we understand the millennial’s attention spans are more fragmented than previous generations. However, the environment in which the media is consumed is more immersive and the device itself has fewer interruptions and other distractions popping up.

But what about other media? There is an implicit act of focus that reading printed material requires. The construction of the format hints at lowered distraction as, thank goodness, there is no way to place an alert or notification into your newspaper or magazine. It's no surprise that recall is higher for printed media vs online media.

4. Consider the visual appeal

There may be another factor which underpins the fact traditional media outperforms digital. The ads are bigger and look better on your TV than your mobile. A glossy well-shot press ad in a magazine looks a bit better than a pop up on your laptop.

5. Take action

So, what to do when confronted with the task of devising a clever and intriguing campaign that needs to achieve cut through? Clearly for every brand and its associated consumer segments there are going to be more or less effective channels.

We start by looking at the data, understanding the consumer, running our Five Simple Truths™ process and then review with the brand owners. We build an accurate understanding of the most critical consumer segments to target, then develop an appropriate strategy, messaging and creative which may or may not include traditional media. But, we suggest using data and evidence, and not being swayed by baseless opinion.


How can we help?

FKC are a strategic marketing and advertising agency that focuses on clarity, the truth and delivers bottom-line enhancing results. If you would like to have a grown-up, sensible discussion with us about how to maximise your marketing effectiveness, then get in touch with Aidan Morrison on or 0207 691 8090.

Alliance of Independent Agencies

The Alliance is the UK’s trade body that represents entrepreneurial and independent marketing agencies. We are a growing community of those marketing agencies that are independent in culture and entrepreneurial in spirit resulting in the creation of some of the most transformative, innovative and inspirational communication campaigns for the world's biggest brands.