Study: Digital Or Traditional Media -- What Works Best For Agencies?

Paid social-media advertising took the No. 1 spot for the type of media purchased and managed most by agencies, according to research scheduled for release Tuesday from Borrell Associates. 

Some 82% of agencies participating in the study use paid social media, while about 77% use radio and search engine marketing came in at 74%. Banner ads on websites at 74%, newspapers at 70%, broadcast TV at 68%, email at 68%, outdoors at 67%, events and sponsorships at 67%, and magazines at 63% round out the top 10.

The findings analyze how local ad agencies view media. The research firm said 2,288 direct buyers and 446 agency reps completed the survey, which was fielded between April and July 2019.

The study was intended to determine which media they buy to create the best brand recognition, the highest return on investment, and more. The average annual booking per client is $2.4 million.

Agencies were asked to name the types of media they buy to meet goals around Brand Awareness, Brand Consideration, revenue, and ROI. All responses were unaided and were coded into two types of media -- digital and traditional. In this instance, traditional means non-digital media. Percentages relate to the top five for each goal.



Traditional media works better to spread the word and make consumers think about a brand. Some 66% of respondents cited traditional forms of media among the top five to create brand awareness. Some 55% cited traditional media for building brand consideration.

Digital media is better for campaigns requiring immediate action. Some 52% of survey participants choose digital to drive sales and revenue, and 79% cited digital to provide data to deliver higher ROI.

The biggest concerns run the gamut. Some 74% of agencies cite their top three concerns as proving ROI for campaign investments. About 54% cite staying up-to-date with the competition. And 49% are concerned with brands pressing them for project-based or one-off engagements instead of longer-term contracts.

Agencies seem to love social media despite privacy and data security concerns. About 91% use Facebook, while 73% use Instagram, 57% use YouTube; 48% use LinkedIn, 22% use Pinterest; 20% use Snapchat; 17% use Yelp; 4% use Reddit; and 3% use WhatsApp.

Video distribution bodes well with agencies. Some 72% of agencies post videos on clients' social media pages, while 72% feature videos in social media ads, 78% post videos on YouTube, and 71% distribute digital videos using TV and cable stations.

When it comes to buying digital audio, smart-speaker adoption is low. Only 9% use websites optimized for voice search, while 7% have developed voice-activated content, and 5% market on Google Home or Amazon Echo.

Agencies typically buy pre-recorded spots, 78%, inserted into streamed media. Some 53% make programmatic ad buys, 49% branded or sponsored content, and 44% native ads.

Some 98% of agency respondents use some form of targeting when buying ads. About 89% cited location-based or geo-fencing, followed by 85% use age or gender, 67% use digital behavior, such as sites visited and actions taken. Some 64% use purchase behavior, 46% use customer metrics like loyalty clubs and transaction value, and 10% use another form.

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