Traditional advertising: Is radio advertising better? TV? Print?

Television, radio, and print advertising were the big three media to advertise in. If you wanted business to show up at your store, this is where you put your name. But times have changed and many businesses are using an online-only model. If you are one of those businesses, should you consider advertising in the older media?

Times have changed for the “big three” advertising media. It used to be that if you wanted business to come to your door, you simply put your name in one, two, or all three of these media and you’d likely get business (provided that you also had an in- demand product and reasonable pricing, etc.). But that’s not necessarily the case anymore. The reason is that these media have become highly fragmented. They used to provide general entertainment and information to the masses. Today, they offer niche programming to a very select group of people.

For example, big networks are competing with specialty channels for your attention. Local radio in medium-to-large sized towns offers listeners many choices. General magazines are out of print, replaced by niche market magazines. And none of these media reach the full market that you may want to reach in your online business.

Can you still use them? Here are some things to think about:


  • Plus: This media is highly visual. On top of that, people watch a lot of television. The right ad, then, will attract the attention of viewers and create a buzz.
  • Minus: Television is a very expensive media to advertise in and fickle viewers will generally only watch an interesting ad once- and an uninteresting one even less!
  • How to use successfully: You’ll need a big budget and ads that are somehow surprising, funny, or even controversial. Also, don’t waste your money by advertising at the cheapest hours of the day. Instead, spend more on fewer showings and have your ad shown as close to prime time as possible.


  • Plus: This media can really pull in people’s imaginations, which is a great way to get people to intellectually interact with your product, increasing the likelihood that you’ll be top-of-mind when they want to buy it.
  • Minus: Unlike television, which people give their full attention to as a form of entertainment, radio is often background noise heard while people are driving or at work. Unless your ad is really good and very memorable, you’ll have a hard time getting noticed.
  • How to use successfully: Make sure your jingle and phone number are very memorable because people will likely not be able to reach for a pen and paper while they’re driving.


  • Plus: While the other advertising media has risen in price substantially, many print-based ads have remained within the scope of affordability for the small and medium sized business. As well, print has a permanence that TV and radio do not so people can refer back to your ad if they wanted a website or phone number.
  • Minus: Like anything else, people have grown immune to advertising and unless your ad is good, they’ll turn the page.
  • How to use successfully: Identify niche markets, don’t bother with general market periodicals. If you use local advertising like city newspapers, market yourself as a local provider. Include a discount code in your ad so you can track the people who read the ad, visit your site, and use the code.

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