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08.01.2006Author: Marc Brownstein Posted In: Big Ideas

The Debate: Online or Offline Advertising

The debate rages on in marketing circles around the world: what works best—online or offline advertising? The answer is YES. To both.

No, TV commercials are not dead. Please. And the internet is not a panacea for all sales woes. The truth is, the best marketing campaigns are the ones that use each medium to its fullest potential. For example, we have a client where we built a microsite to promote and capture information about a specific promotion. To get customers there, we created an offline advertising, direct mail and public relations campaign that built the brand personality, and drove people to a unique url.

The campaign worked beyond our expectations. The broadcast advertising brought the message alive and created urgency to visit the site and learn more. Hard to do with just an online effort. The billboards generated awareness and also featured the url. So did the public relations effort, where the reporters included the site address. And the direct mail waves drove even more eyeballs.

Balance in Media Mix

Point is, there needs to be some balance in the media mix. I am a huge believer in the internet. So much so, that I started an interactive marketing company six years ago. I just want to underscore the growing sentiment that online marketing is all advertisers need is way overblown. Just today, in fact, I picked up the Wall Street Journal and read an article about 1-800-Flowers’ decision to move some online budget back to traditional mediums. You don’t hear that too often these days. But I’m not surprised, given the frothy nature of the internet gold rush going on.

So, for now, I am going to carefully analyze my clients’ goals and recommend appropriate spending. It might wind up in one medium, say public relations, if that is what will be most effective. Or I might still urge an online-campaign only, for the right client. But I suspect most of our plans will recommend the brand-building, and highly visible offline advertising and pr vehicles, combined with the targeted and very measurable components that interactive strategies and tools offer.

The debate can go on. For my agency and clients, we know what works. And there’s no debating that

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