Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

The Shift from Traditional Marketing to Digital Marketing

– We were interested to read in a recent article that in 2020 half of all advertising dollars in NZ were spent online. This is the latest milestone in an ongoing shift away from traditional advertising (newspaper, radio, TV) and toward digital marketing. Newspaper advertising spend has decreased 40% in just 3 years, radio ad spend decreased 16% in 2020 and television advertising has also decreased.

This shift is occurring as more and more businesses are starting to understand the advantages digital marketing has over more traditional advertising channels. These advantages include better reach, much more granular targeting, lower costs, more flexibility, ability to measure results, and much better returns on advertising investment.

Difference Between Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is in the process of completely changing the advertising landscape, with many substantial advantages over traditional advertising:

  1. Better Reach

    94% of people in NZ now regularly use the internet or mobile apps. At the same time newspaper readership is declining and more and more people are using streaming TV & music services rather than watching traditional TV channels or listening to the radio.

    A recent Pew Research study in the US found that 4 times as many people use digital media as their primary new source (social media, new websites and apps) compared to radio and print. The share of people relying on radio and print as their primary news source is only 11%.

  2. Much More Granular Targeting

    Traditional advertising uses a very broad brushed approach to target an audience, based on probabilities of certain demographic groups reading, listening to or watching a particular newspaper, radio station or TV channel at a particular time. The scope for wastage is huge: not everyone in the demographic group have the same interests and tastes; a large component of the readers, listeners, watchers are not even in the target demographic; and location targeting is very poor.

    Digital marketing can target an audience at a very detailed level:

    • People in a particular location at country, region, or city level, right down to radius targeting around an individual suburb.
    • By specified age range
    • By parental status or education level
    • Based on a myriad of interests or habits
    • Based on what they have been searching for online
    • Based on what they are currently searching for. i.e. people directly searching for the product or service you provide.
  3. Lower Costs

    Because targeting is so much better and there is less wastage, digital marketing spend can be significantly lower than traditional media and still produce much better results.

  4. More Flexibility

    Digital marketing is completely flexible. Advertising space does not need to be reserved in advance. New campaigns can be set up within 24 hours. Advertising can be paused and restarted at a moments notice. Got too much work on? Put the advertising on hold and start it again when you’ve had time to catch up.

  5. Ability To Measure Results

    Conversion tracking can be configured to measure how many leads were generated from a particular digital marketing campaign, or how many e-commerce sales were generated and the value of these sales. The conversions can be mapped back to a particular ad, keyword, or demographic. This information can then be used to prioritise the best converting aspects of the campaign in order to improve results.

  6. Much Better Returns On Advertising Investment

    All the benefits described above can combine to generate a significantly better return on investment on marketing spend than was ever possible in the past. This in turn is helping many businesses generate leads, increase revenue and exceed their business objectives.


While all the above benefits are possible with digital marketing, they are not guaranteed. It requires a well planned, well-structured and well targeted campaign. It requires experienced digital marketing specialists with a professional approach, disciplined processes and continued optimisation & improvements. Finding individuals or an agency with these qualities can be difficult. Without these qualities even a digital marketing campaign can produce sub-optimal results.

New technology has opened up new possibilities for advertisers, but also a myriad of new complexities. However, with the right partner to help navigate these complexities, NZ businesses of all sizes have the potential to grow and prosper in ways that were not possible in the past.

The thing that surprised us the most when we read that half of advertising spend in NZ is now online, is that it’s only half. That means businesses are still spending the other half of their advertising spend on outdated, under performing traditional channels. We have come a long way in the past few years, but it would appear that old habits die hard.