Today’s marketers have a tremendous variety of advertising options at their fingertips. From more traditional channels like print and direct mail to the latest digital technology like geofencing and media-rich banner ads, there’s always an ad format out there that’s the right fit for your brand and advertising goals.

But with so many options comes the challenge of sorting which type of advertising best suits each situation. When is it best to run an ad in the local paper? When does it make sense to rely on paid social media posts?

Here, I’ll walk you through the differences between print ads and digital ads, what each can do for your business, and how to employ each type of marketing most effectively.

What Are Print Ads?

Print ads are run in publications, from newspapers to magazines to trade publications. The style of print ads varies. They may run alongside the content or be separate, full-page spreads.

Why Choose Print?

Despite their status as one of the oldest forms of advertising around, print ads remain wildly effective. People are still reading hard-copy publications, and they’re more likely to engage with and remember the ads they see in print.

Additionally, printed media offer marketers the opportunity to find the right home for their messaging. Whether it’s a local newspaper, a niche magazine, or a community circular, print publications already have a built-in specific audience. Marketers can tap into those existing communities and direct their advertising towards the most relevant audience for their brand.

And while print itself is a totally offline channel, now marketers can use modern technology to track the effectiveness of their print campaigns. This means you can get the same types of insights on your print campaigns that you would on any digital campaign. As you measure results, you’re empowered to create even more effective campaigns moving forward.

What Are Digital Ads?

Digital ads are any form of advertising that you see online. From search engine marketing to banner ads to paid social, if it happens online, it’s digital advertising. This also includes some newer technologies like geofencing, which are designed specifically for mobile advertising.

Why Choose Digital?

Digital advertising has a number of benefits you can’t get with print advertising. One is cost.

It’s possible to start a digital ad campaign with a relatively small budget. With advertising tactics like paid search, you set a daily budget limit, and the search engine continues to run your advertising until your limit is hit. This allows you to monitor your costs closely, and it also means less of an upfront investment to get your advertising up and running.

The other major benefit is the ability to test and tweak on-the-fly. Once your print ad is up and running, it’s there in black-and-white and can’t be changed.

With digital marketing, however, you can continuously update and improve your advertising. If you find that your headline isn’t getting a great response, you can swap it out for another one. If your image is falling flat, you can test another one in its place to see if it gets more attention.

How Can They Work Together?

The best marketing strategies don’t focus on digital to the exclusion of print (or the other way around). Effective strategies will bring the two broad types of marketing together to get the greatest results across all channels.

Digital marketing is a great place to start. Because there’s a lower barrier to entry cost-wise, it’s a simple way to dip your toes in the marketing waters. And because it’s easy to change messaging, you can hone in on the advertising techniques that resonate best with your audience in digital formats before venturing into the world of print.

It’s also great to start with digital because it helps to build your brand awareness. The average consumer needs to see an ad seven times before they take action on it, and because digital marketing channels are so ubiquitous, digital makes it easy to splash your messaging everywhere. Consumers will encounter your business in their social feeds, on banner ads, and in paid search, and they’ll start to develop trust for your brand.

Once you’ve gotten a firm handle on the type of messaging that works best with your audience and have established a baseline familiarity with your audience online, you can move into the world of print. In fact, it’s been proven that running print ads when you already have a presence online can actually boost the effectiveness of your existing digital ads by as much as four times.

While digital ads build awareness, print ads drive action. Eighty percent of newspaper readers reported taking action as a result of reading a print ad in the previous 30 days. Digital ads allow you to tee up the shot, and print ads help you sink the putt.

Some advertisers today have become overly loyal to digital channels. They’ve forgotten about print advertising and more traditional channels. While there’s nothing wrong with embracing the latest technology”“and there are certainly many benefits to a well-designed digital campaign”“it’s also not wise to forego print advertising altogether.

In fact, the two types of advertising are most effective when used in tandem. The strengths of print and digital play off of each other and allow you to get the greatest results across all your marketing efforts.

If you’re looking for help mixing the old and the new, why not take a look at our print and digital solutions that are designed to drive awareness and leads for your business. If you like what you see, then we should talk.

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