How Online Ads are Decimating Traditional (mainly print) Media

Advertising in traditional mediums such as Newspapers, Radio & TV were the life blood of advertising for businesses for the past several decades. From the very early advent of Newspapers, they almost instantly carried ads to offset the cost of printing and production.

What has happened in the last decade, however, is much of this Ad spend has been re-allocated from print media to online, with the biggest beneficiaries being Google and Facebook/Instagram. As we can see from the image below, the majority of that huge chunk of online spend has been extricated from print media advertising, with a small portion also coming from TV ad spend.

Extracted from the report that can be found here.

In the USA, digital spend has recently overtaken traditional spend and it’s hard to see this trend stopping any time soon. In fact, the trend towards digital is forecast to rise even more dramatically over the next few years:

This technological shift, and the perceived lack of competition (and transparency) in the online advertising space is so much of a concern for governments around the world, that they’ve instigated “Digital Platform Enquiries” such as this preliminary one by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions (ACCC).

What does this mean for your business?

The marketing and advertising landscapes are changing, with a clear and present shift to online ad spend. Your business really needs an effective online strategy to stay relevant and competitive. That is, your business needs to be visible where your clients are consuming information, and that’s becoming more in the online world, and less in the physical print media, and to a lesser extent TV.

Sure, governments will try to reign in perceived anti-competitive behaviour from technology giants, but the writing is on the wall and legislation is extremely unlikely to stop the shift to digital, it may just become a more competitive space, with search engines such as Bing and DuckDuckGo and other social media platforms gaining a larger slice of the pie.

Is traditional media doomed?

Not exactly.

With YouTube, Netflix and other on-demand video platforms going from strength to strength, and Spotify replacing many driver’s daily commutes listening to Radio, it’s not hard to see the potential plateau of traditional media, with much of the increased ad spend also shifting to online mediums.

On the other hand, it’s clear that radio and TV have maintained ground and are even projected to grow slightly, despite the intense competition from newer mediums.

Sure, newspaper circulation and ad spend are down, but just like e-books haven’t killed physical books, there will always be a place for print media. The same goes for TV & Radio. They’re not so much about the variety of content and the rapid access to on-demand information, but more about the convenience of these mediums (eg. generating “playlists” for you!) and the social aspect of gathering around the TV to watch shows that your friends and colleagues will discuss for days to come. Also, live sport is a big driver for the success of traditional platforms also.


Ad spend is shifting from traditional media to online platforms at an alarming rate, with the biggest loser being print media. Businesses need to ensure they have a robust online presence to avoid losing customers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *