A Business's Handy Guide to Advertising Mediums

Insights / Business

Advertising is everywhere, which means… tons of opportunities to sell all sorts of wacky things! Sadly, it also means more fatigue for everyone, as we see the same ads over and over again. So how can brands and businesses ever stand out without looking and sounding the same as others?

Well, one key difference lies in the way advertising mediums are used. Let’s take a peek at each of their pros and cons!

Print Advertising

Newspapers, Magazines, Posters, Flyers, Brochures, Annual Reports, Packaging Design, and POSMs. Now, if you wanted to run an advertising campaign, how would you use them effectively?


1. It’s Physical


Not everyone likes digital advertisements. Some prefer to physically hold onto something and engage with it up close. It’s more effective in capturing your audiences’ attention for a longer duration than your typical digital ad due to the fatigue of seeing the same things online every day. Also, it won’t annoy them by bombarding unwanted or unrelated content.

2. It’s Cheap

Over the years, printing costs have fallen significantly due to the shift towards digital advertising. But the main driver in price reduction is all thanks to advanced printing equipment that operates more efficiently while driving down costs through digital files and tools that improve and speed up production.

3. Great for Local Geo-targeting


Before digital advertisements became a popular medium, businesses used to rely on flyers, brochures and direct mail to engage with their local customers. Even now, businesses that only target local audiences will prefer this over digital as it effectively creates sufficient awareness on what they offer without having to resort to ranking for keywords online.


1. Limited Reach

Unlike digital advertisements, print can only go so far in terms of numbers. If you’re looking to go viral, the print might not be the best choice as you’ll be missing out on a significant amount of people who might be interested in your business.


2. Requires Extra Planning

Creating any advertisements takes time. But with print, there is an extra layer of technical knowledge needed to be able to physically present your advertisements in the best possible light.  

Some elements you’d have to consider would be:

  • What material to use
  • Which finishing suits it
  • The sizes and measurements of the medium

3. Wastage


Unless you’re printing on eco-friendly materials, chances are those physical advertisements will mostly end up as waste. If your target audience is especially sensitive about environmental matters, then you might need to consider alternative methods to get your print ads out.


4. Silence

While print excites the visuals, it lacks engagement where our ears are concerned. Think about music and sound effects from commercials, or the tone of someone speaking. Maybe a jingle from a particular brand just popped into your mind? Sounds play a pretty significant role in the memorability and effect an ad has on consumers.

Outdoor Advertising


Like print, outdoor advertisements (better known as “out-of-home” ads) take everything up a notch. This is done through: Structural displays (billboards, booths, lifts, etc), Electrical displays, Vehicular displays (cars, vans, trucks, buses, trains, etc), and Experiential Advertising.

A key difference between print and outdoor advertising is in the convenience for your target audience to catch those ads. Outdoor advertisements tend to stay fixed in a location for a period of time. While not as portable as some print ads, it could do well in capturing the attention of those who pass by.


1. High Traffic Targeting


Similarly to local geo-targeting, the intensity is increased by placing advertisements in high traffic areas where a large number of people are expected to reside, travel, or pass by in specific time periods. Examples of these places would be highways, town squares or shopping malls.

2. Mass Awareness / Exposure

Since it's likely to be placed in high traffic areas or in strategic locations of interest for your customers, a significant amount of local (and foreign) customers will become aware of the latest activities carried out by your business.    

If it falls within their interests, they’ll either visit you in-store or online for purchase. Furthermore, it’s great for increasing brand recognition and presence in the consumers' minds as they may pass by the ads often while going about their week.


3. Impulse Purchasing

When placed in strategic locations, outdoor advertisements can encourage customers to spend on impulse based on their environment and condition. For instance, if you’ve been travelling for hours without food and you happen to stumble upon a billboard for McDonald's, you’re probably driving there to satisfy your hunger. Outdoor advertising often observes customers’ behaviour as a result of their environment and their current condition based on their lifestyle and daily routine.  


1. Untargeted


While high traffic areas are great for exposing ads to multitudes of consumers, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that people will be interested. If you’re advertising a niche product, a large majority of people might not be engaged because they’re not your ideal target audience.

Essentially, high traffic areas include a mix of different target audiences who have different wants and needs for different products. This makes it hard to capture them unless your business appeals to everyone generally.

2. Maintenance


Outdoor advertisements look the best when they are maintained in their original condition. If your advertisements get damaged by external forces, it will probably decrease the likelihood of consumers engaging with the ads (unless it's a funny accident). Part (if not all) of the information could potentially be lost if that happens, which affects consumer experience and discourages them from buying your products or services.

3. Hard to Measure

Unless your business is fully physical and does not rely on digital advertisements, tracking where your customer traffic is coming from will become quite difficult.

Are they purchasing this product because of the online advertisements?
Are they here because of the promotion or because of the new product?
Are the flyers the main reason for the increased sales? Or is it from other print ads instead?

Tracking which location yields the best ROI from your ad spending outdoor is challenging because there often isn’t any form of measurement for engagement factors.

Other Offline Advertisements

In this area, we’ll include traditional mediums that are neither print nor outdoor which are:

Now, you might be wondering if anyone still watches TV or listens to the radio in this day and age. The short answer is yes, but you could take a look at these articles for more of a deep dive on the topic!

Digital Advertising


We live in a world where people and technology have become inseparable. Ever since its introduction, all industries have gone through a significant change. For better or worse, we have to embrace it (especially in advertising). By going online, businesses will be able to utilize several digital advertising mediums such as: Social Media, Email, Websites, Search Engines, and Mobile Apps.


1. Measurable Metrics


After putting out an ad, your business needs to know:

  • How many people engage with it?
  • How long did they engage with it?
  • Was it a positive or negative experience?
  • What did they say about it?    

With digital advertising, you’ll have several tools to track the results of your ads online, providing valuable insights into your customers’ reactions or behaviours towards your advertisements. Some digital mediums (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Google Analytics etc.) provide these tools to track the metrics, which can help businesses understand if they need to double down on their investments or focus their efforts on something else.


2. Specific Audience Targeting

Alongside trackable metrics, the tools provided by digital mediums also allow brands to target their audience more specifically.

You can customize your audience profile based on:

  • Demographics - Age, Gender, Income, Education, Occupation, Social Status
  • Geographics - Location, Population, Climate, Language
  • Psychographics - Lifestyle, Interests, Beliefs, Values, Attitudes, Activities
  • Behavioural - Intent, Usage, Purchase, Benefits Sought, Occasion


3. Customizable Advertisements

As technology continues to evolve, the number of ways to create digital ads increases too!  Think of emerging new technologies such as VR, AR, 360 videos or even the ability to conduct A/B testing to see which ads engage your customers the most. This provides businesses with limitless opportunities to get creative with their advertisements, as they wouldn't have to stick to a rigid set of advertising rules.


1. Content Overload


Digital mediums have essentially created an explosion of content everywhere. With everyone fighting for the consumers’ attention, a filter has been developed to sort through the vast amount of content as the majority of it doesn't appeal to or attract the customers in any way. However, this effect has led to a phenomenon known as “visual pollution”, where you end up seeing (and hearing) the same things everywhere as you browse through your digital media online. Hence, standing out requires even more creativity and hard work from brands and businesses themselves.

2. Reputation at Risk

Going online provides users with the ability to be anonymous. While seemingly great, this can backfire in a number of ways. For example, users can create fake accounts and leave negative reviews to damage the brand’s reputation. Those same accounts can increase your follower numbers to make your brand seem like a spam or bot account. They also affect your metrics and marketing data which prevents you from making accurate conclusions about the effectiveness of your ads. Furthermore, if your content isn’t done professionally, consumers will assume you’re a scam from the way your content is presented. This undermines your brand’s credibility and trust among your consumers.

3. Technical Knowledge 

Creating a digital ad isn’t just about slapping on a few pictures and words together with attractive pricing to lure customers. You need to have technical skills such as design, copywriting, marketing, SEO, web development, and more.

What identifies a business as a legitimate and professional one is the skills that were involved in creating the advertisements that not only present their product or service in the best light but differentiate it from the visual pollution online.

Advertising is everywhere, but only good advertising gets noticed. Yet, understanding advertising mediums alone isn’t enough. Your main focus should be on how you make your brand a customer favourite through them.

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