When I was a child, I often turned the well-worn pages of my family's World Book Encyclopedia. It was the best place to satisfy my curiosity. The Internet did not yet exist in the 1970s, and information seemed scarce. For a deeper dive, I could read books. The local library was small, but there was usually something helpful to read.
When grown-ups needed to hire someone, they opened The Yellow Pages, browsed the local newspaper, or talked to their friends. It was the only way to find a plumber, carpenter, or lawyer. Though we had access to a wealth of resources, accessing them was inefficient. Local relationships and institutions were gateways to knowledge.
Today, 4.6 billion of us begin our search for knowledge and resources on our mobile phone or desktop computer. The web has transformed how we play, work, learn, and transact. No gatekeepers, except an Internet connection, stand between us and almost limitless knowledge. If we need to know something personal, we search the web without risk of embarrassment or vulnerability.
This shift in knowledge-seeking behavior means your website and digital marketing footprint are the first stop for almost all your new customers. The Internet has fundamentally altered how we promote our businesses.
As the web remakes our business world, it creates both opportunity and anxiety. Should we spend precious marketing dollars on time-tested advertising tactics, or should we pursue a digital marketing strategy? Every day, hopeful writers produce millions of new blog posts, while newspapers are in decline. Radio continues to lose its influence while the number of podcast listeners explodes. But does our demographic still respond to radio advertising? When we choose to invest in any marketing channel, a message matched to the medium can create growth. But throwing money at digital marketing, even though it is the happening thing, is not guaranteed to grow your business.
Marketing has always been about connecting with people. The dystopian digital future predicted by tales like The Matrix and Ready Player One has not come to pass. Our most profound relationships form between embodied people in an analog world. Digital marketing provides many new channels through which we can build relationships, but we should not neglect real-world interaction.
Massive cultural and technological shifts have changed much about how we do business, but advertising has staying power. It is the most effective way to target a demographic group and to reach a massive audience. The typical enterprise no longer advertises in Yellow Book or spends a large amount on newspaper advertising. But advertising dollars have not vanished. Channels that were once effective are diminishing, and new ways to reach an audience are emerging. Advertising is merely changing shape.
We think of sports advertising as the epitome of traditional marketing. The Wall Street Journal estimates the total advertising spend during Super Bowl LV was $485 million. The viewing audience during the 2021 game was approximately 91.5 million. Each viewer of the game was worth $5.30 to advertisers. With so much at stake, advertising will shift in focus with our changing culture and technology, but it will never vanish.
Digital marketing may have some traditional promotion tactics on the ropes, but not down for the count.