Traditional media delivers better ROI than online: study

Advertisers and agencies may need to double check their ad spend allocations, with new research showing that outdated perceptions of traditional media is placing too high an emphasis on online media, which may be affecting overall return on investment.

Radiocenter UK commissioned marketing analytics firm Ebiquity to compare the perceptions of 146 marketers, media experts and media buying agencies to 10 different mediums. These perceptions were then compared to external research, determining that marketers perceived perception of online media were too high when compared to the effectiveness and return on investment of traditional media.

Television, radio and newspapers were ranked top three for overall performance, ranking significantly higher than all forms of online media. However, this finding was not reflected in what advertisers believe.

The research found that each of the traditional mediums were significantly underrated, with radio rated sixth and newspapers equal seventh.

Online video and social media, which advertisers ranked second and third respectively for overall performance, ranked dismally at ninth and seventh.

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“Our analytics work is repeatedly showing that advertisers are not getting return on online investment and our concerns about transparency in programmatic advertising have been well documented,” said Ebiquity managing principal Morag Blasey.

“The findings reveal that it is time for the industry to re-evaluate media decisions to optimise advertising budgets,” she said.

The importance of print and other forms of traditional media was emphasised across the 12 individual categories.

One of the most concerning findings was on the topic of transparent third party measurement. Advertisers believe that online video and online display delivered the most transparent metrics, with paid social media at fourth. However, evidence showed that this belief was significantly skewed. In fact, the three online mediums were shown to be the least transparent.

The traditional mediums of newspapers, magazines, television, radio and out of home media were equal first for measurement.

One respondent to the study from a full service agency said that the client often put a greater emphasis on online figures despite numerous reports that social media giants were inflating their figures.

“There are so many tools available to measure responses and therefore the success of your campaign when using social media – and that is a priority for clients,” they said.

Newspapers and magazines were found to be equal third for return on investment, significantly out-doing advertiser expectations in which the mediums were ranked eighth and ninth respectively.

Ebiquity ROI

Similar results were seen for increases in brand salience, with evidence showing newspapers, magazines and radio are equal second. Advertisers perceived newspapers ranked eight.

Of the 12 individual categories, advertisers were found to have undervalued newspapers 10 times.

The future of media

Digital advertising spend reached 41 per cent global market share in 2017 and is predicted by MAGNA’s Global Advertising Forecasts to reach 50 per cent by 2020.

Fourteen percent of respondents to the Ebiquity study believe the predicted short-term growth is not expected to continue over the long term.

“People are now waking up to the fact that it’s not delivering what it says it is. I think there are issues with ‘businesses marking their own homework’ and measurements provided by people who have an interest in their success,” said one advertiser working in financial services. “General Data Protection Regulation is going to become an issue as well.”

The study concludes that integrated campaigns that use a combination of digital and traditional media are the most effective to fulfil performance indicators. Advertisers must optimise budgets by making decisions based on evidence rather than following market trends, it says.

“Marketing is ultimately about the mix and the layering of all the touchpoints. It is about getting the proportions right to be most effective,” said one fast-moving commercial goods advertiser.

Download the report in full here.