Traditional advertising refers to ad messages delivered through traditional media. Television, radio, newspaper and print constitute the primary media considered to fit this category. Generally, companies have looked for more affordable and effective grassroots ways to reach audiences. However, the disadvantages of each of these media vary.


Television ads may seem glamorous, allowing you to design creative stories and reach a lot of people. However, TV ads are typically more expensive than those of any other common media. Even in a local market, you usually pay $15,000 to $50,000 for production and tens of thousands more for placement. The bang for the buck is a big concern as well. Digital video recorders allow viewers to easily skip commercials on recordings. Going to the fridge or restroom, talking on the phone or spacing off are also common distractions that prevent people from absorbing your message. You normally have to hit a viewer several times before a commercial message becomes memorable.


You can often get a package of 100 or more local radio spots for a few thousand dollars. Despite its affordability, however, radio ad effectiveness varies. People are usually driving when they hear your ads, which means they are inherently distracted by the road and scenes around them. Memorability with radio ads is very low, so you have to replay them often on the same channels over a period of time. The lack of a visual stimulus and a fleeting message are other negatives.


Newspaper ads are one of the most affordable options for a small, local business. However, newspapers are typically cluttered with hundreds of box ads that look similar. Standing out from the crowd usually requires a half-page or full-page ad and use of color. Print newspaper circulations are on the decline, and if you have a narrow target market, you pay to reach a lot of subscribers who may have no interest in your message.


With so many specialty magazines, you can effectively target a select audience. However, the reach of magazines is sub-par compared with television. Magazine ads are also relatively pricey on a cost-per-contact basis. Like newspapers, magazines are becoming increasingly cluttered as publishers offer more ad space to generate revenue. Long lead times is another negative. You generally have to deliver your ad four to six weeks before publication, limiting your ability to present a timely message.