What is the difference between traditional and digital advertising in India?

  • Author: Bhumika RajKumar
  • |
  • Published Date : 9 July , 2020
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Before we jump into this never-ending debate of traditional vs Digital Marketing, let’s look at how the customer journey has evolved.The 1990s - You see this page-long ad on the local newspaper, or a billboard, hear about brands through word-of-mouth, and eventually make the purchase at the nearby store.

2020 - You come across a brand on your favorite influencer’s profile, go stalk their Instagram account to see what they have to offer, have a look at their competitors on social media, land up on their website, read the reviews and watch gazillion videos on Youtube. Next, an ad appears on your phone because of the curiosity you’ve shown, which pushes you to make the purchase. 

In all probability, you’re reading this blog on your smartphone as well. You see, the journey is now no longer one dimensional. And the number of digital channels that brands use and need to be present on has grown by leaps and bounds! 

The evolution of the internet and technological advancements have benefited both consumers and advertisers in several ways. 
Given that they now have a variety of options at their disposal, there is also a rising demand for what they expect from brands. Decision making is no more just about the product but also what they communicate, what they stand for, and the customer experience they provide.

Likewise, for brands, reaching out to consumers is no more a far-fetched, unachievable goal and the rise in online channels has opened up many more avenues for businesses. Also, Covid-19 has caused a major increase in the amount of time people spend online and has caused a parallel increase in the usage of Social Media. This has pushed multiple traditionally-run businesses to push the envelope, innovate, and take the digital route to sustain themselves.

What is Traditional Marketing? 

Traditional Marketing, also known as Outbound Marketing, is a traditional way of reaching out to the masses based on the philosophy of 4P's of marketing. It was touted to be an effective tool to immediately reach millions of people and create an impact if done rightly. 

The primary modes of Traditional Marketing are as follows:

Print: Comprises of Newspapers, Magazines, brochures, pamphlets or any printed material
Broadcast: TV, Radio, Theatre advertising 
Direct Mail: Includes fliers, postcards, brochures, letters, catalogs, and other material that is printed and mailed directly to consumers
Tele-Marketing: Cold-calling  prospects

What is Digital Marketing?

Simply put,  it is a way of reaching your consumers at the right place and at the right time through the usage of the internet. Technology has aided the enormous growth that Digital Marketing has had over the past few years. These are the various fields of Digital Marketing that work together to create a holistic online image of the brand:

  • Content Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Google Search and Display Advertising
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Website & UI/UX
  • Experiential (AR/VR) Marketing

Now let’s understand the differences between Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing: 

Monologue vs Dialogue

One of the main differences between Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing is, Traditional Marketing is a linear approach of reaching your target audience by broadcasting a message, and hence there's little or no way in which the customer could engage with the brand. Hence, the communication needs to be well thought of, impactful, and clear.

Whereas, digital provides consumers a lot of options through which they can communicate, engage, and demand from the brand. Comments Sections, DMs, Stories, Lead forms, Review section, Filters are just some of the options that brands could use to elicit a response from their audience. The more you get your customers talking to you, the better it is for your brand's recall. Not just in terms of feedback, but it lets brands understand what their customers can expect in terms of their product offerings and hands them an opportunity to personalize it even further.

Wonderchef Case study

Creative Formats

Traditional Marketing comprises majorly two creative formats - Static Print Ads and TVC. Though it gives brands a little room for experimentation, it has still seen some iconic ads over the years that have not faded in our memory.

Digital, on the other hand, has given an umpteenth number of creative formats to the brands - GIF, Static, Video, ASMR, Stories, Insta Grids, Landing Pages, etc. It's on brands to use these effectively and to create experiences that make them stay ahead of the competition. 

Communication Changes 

Brands need to be extremely careful while broadcasting a message through traditional means of communication as there's no room for change. Whereas in Digital Marketing, brands can tweak the content as and when they want to. There's way more flexibility digital channels provide as opposed to traditional means.


With Traditional Marketing, brands need to be patient and results are quite delayed. The communication needs to be strong enough to elicit a response from the audience through word-of-mouth or purchase from the store. In case of Digital, one can immediately gather information on the number of people who’ve seen your ad, engaged with it, filled a form, and shown curiosity.

Targeting and Audience Segmentation:

Targeting and segmentation flexibility is way lesser in Traditional Marketing. Brands burn a lot of money since they’re usually broadcasting to the masses. Through Traditional Marketing, brands can decide which market segments they want to go after but still it is way broader than you think.

Whereas Audience Segmentation is one of the strongest points of Digital Marketing - it literally helps you reach the right customer with the right interest in the market segment you want to go for, with the right budget and time frame that you want. Not only that, but it also helps you save audiences that engage and interact with your brands in various ways and allows you to re-target them (now you know why that ad popped up on your feed). It also gives every brand the freedom to take their brand to the global markets way easier than it was a decade ago.

Marketing Analysis, Metrics, and ROI -

You can’t examine exactly how many people have seen your print ad, and how many of those were influenced by it that led them to make the purchase. Results are always more about positive word-of-mouth about the brand, and coupons, unique phone numbers, email addresses, brand surveys are some of the ways to measure the effectiveness of the traditional campaigns.

On the other hand, Digital Marketing is fuelled by the power of data hence making attribution extremely clear. Online channels provide a clear insight into the results the campaign has yielded, its source, who has shown curiosity towards the brand, and a lot more. Defining and measuring ROI is way easier through digital modes of communication. 

Marketing Cost

When you look at the differences between traditional and Digital Marketing, Traditional Marketing is way pricier. Though it is still proven to be effective for certain types of businesses, brands need to be extremely careful of how much they shell out and for how long since the returns are difficult to measure. Traditional Marketing was sort of restricted to the biggies of the business world.

Digital Marketing, on the other hand, has opened up avenues for numerous small businesses to come out and make a difference with what they have to offer. This has also led to a surge in the number of competitors in each product category. With much lower rates and great flexibility to experiment with the budgets, it makes it feasible for businesses to bet their money on digital. 

Age Groups

While there is a huge fraction of the audience who lives on the internet, there is still an older age group who are glued to their newspapers, television, radio, and other traditional platforms. Whereas, digital platforms flair really well for the younger and the middle-aged audience.

Marketing Funnel

Another important thing in the traditional vs Digital Marketing debate is that unlike traditional, digital allows you to build and execute a detailed full-funnel communication strategy for your brand. And based on the objectives, it gives you customized results in the form of metrics. Whatever your business objective might be, it allows you to innovate and experiment. If you’re looking to get more people to talk to you, you can pick engagement, or if you’re looking for sales, you can pick conversions, if you are releasing a commercial, it also lets you optimize for views.

Neuberg Diagnostics Case Study - Leveraging the Full Funnel Marketing Approach -


While digital has been rapidly changing the way marketing runs due to the innovative edge it provides, there is room for both means to work together. For eg, use a print ad to get people to notice your online presence. Brands must use Traditional Marketing to further amplify the impact of Digital Marketing. But, all said and done, Digital Marketing is here to stay and in order to stay-in-top of their customer’s mind, brands will have to take the plunge into the digital world.