Google AdWords vs. Traditional Advertising: Top 4 Benefits

Google AdWords or Radio, Newspapers, TV, Magazines Advertising? The battle between “digital” and traditional advertising is on – and will always be. Traditional Advertising is not dead; on the other hand, Internet Advertising is growing and gaining a bigger share, year after year.

1. Interest

Traditional Advertising uses a “push” strategy. Ads are delivered to a big number of readers/listeners, with the hope of “catching the right fish”. On the other hand, Google AdWords directly “pulls” the target audience.

Here’s the jargon-free version of the above paragraph:

1. Google AdWords ads are shown only to users who search for your products
2. Traditional ads are delivered to a bigger audience, but not necessarily a “buying” audience

Hence, “interested audience” is one of the reasons Google AdWords and digital advertising are very successful. Coming back to the fish example, is it easier to:

1. Catch a trout in a pond full of hungry trouts?
2. Catch a trout in a pond full of not-necessarily-hungry trouts and carps?

You might guess the answer!

2. Target

With Google AdWords, not only we can reach people who are interested in buying, but also target the campaign by location, language, search keywords: digital advertising is user-specific. Google ads are shown only to the people you want.

On the other hand, newspapers and radio shows get distributed to a wider audience. In this case it is very difficult to target your ideal audience, unless you are advertising on a very specific page of a niche magazine. And still, readers might not be buyers.

Once again, translated in the “fish language”, is it easier to:

1. Catch a trout in a small pond full of trouts?2. Catch a trout in a big pond full of trouts and carps?

3. Cost

Newspaper and other traditional adverts have a fixed cost, based on the size of their audience. The editor sets the price, you choose the day, supply the graphics and pay agreed fee.

Google AdWords let you choose your budget (yes, you set the price!). Also, you only spend your budget if users click on the Ad on page 1 of Google. It’s like saying: you pay only if a person opens the newspaper on page 7, reads your ad and gives you a phone call.

So, back to the fish example, is it cheaper to:

1. Pay only if you catch a trout?
2. Pay for the day, with the hope of catching a trout?

I must be annoying you with all this fish 🙂

4. ROI

Return on the Investment is the most important thing when assessing an advertising campaign outcome. And you must have heard the sentence: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.

It is not easy to track the results of Traditional Advertising, unless you have specific strategies such as using an advertising-only phone number, website address and/or offer coupon.

On the other hand, Google AdWords can tell you how many people clicked, which and how many pages they visited and which and how many products they bought.

And, for the last fish example (I promise), is it better to:

1. Know the ratio between caught trouts and hungry trouts?
2. Catch some trouts?

If you know the numbers, you can calculate ROI and find out how effective the campaign was. For example, with a simple Google AdWords campaign you could spend €30, get 30 clicks, make 3 sales with €300 profit >> ROI = 300/30 = 1000%.

There is no doubt Google AdWords is a very effective form of advertising. You can target the campaign to your ideal audience, keep the costs down and convert sales in a smart way. On the other hand, Traditional Advertising will never end and it is still very effective for big brands with big budgets.

What is your experience with advertising and what has been working for you? Leave a comment below!

About The Author

Rodolfo Melogli

Author, WooCommerce expert, WordCamp speaker and Internet marketer, Rodolfo Melogli helps entrepreneurs overcome their ecommerce nightmares :) Rodolfo is the organiser of the Dublin Ecommerce Meetup, WordCamp Dublin, the Dublin WordPress Meetup and the Dublin WooCommerce Meetup. He enjoys interacting with people, running on the beach and chasing tennis & soccer balls. Of course, he loves pizza too.

10 Comments

  • Trey

    Reply Reply March 12, 2013

    This article is very helpful…it has just helped me with my decisions

  • wes

    Reply Reply December 2, 2015

    I am hungry for fish! Just kidding. this is article is spot on. We have been using Tv for sometime and the return less than google for the reasons stated above.

    • Rodolfo Melogli

      December 3, 2015

      Thanks a lot Wes for your feedback! Yes, I probably exaggerated with all that fish 🙂

  • mintclinic

    Reply Reply February 18, 2016

    Honestly , I tried google adwords , and found it not effective , probably because I wasn’t using it properly and because i just don’t understand how to stand out in all that noise. However I think it is effective -if you are paying attention and tracking what works and what does not . It can also be expensive , particularly if you are in a competitive niche .I think I gave up to early but am interested in reviewing it in the future ……..

    • Rodolfo Melogli

      February 23, 2016

      Hey, thank you for your comment!

      Google AdWords has indeed become a very expensive traffic generation method but it has proven to be highly effective for “local searches”. Local searches are what we describe as “hot leads”: users looking to buy a very specific product in a very specific location (yes, dentistry is a very good example).

      Cost per click is much higher than it used to be, but a local search ROI for people who are desperate to get an immediate fix (sore tooth, broken dishwasher, legal issue) is quite high. Of course, the campaign needs to be set up so that you avoid wasting budget (negative keywords, sitelinks, calls to action, local landing page and great Ad copy just to name a few).

      I worked with many “upset” clients who tried GA before but had it on autopilot or the Google AdWords consultant didn’t really do a good job – so I totally understand your frustration!

      Thank you again 🙂

  • Suzie

    Reply Reply May 2, 2016

    Surely there’s plenty of fish in the sea!!

    • Rodolfo Melogli

      May 3, 2016

      Correct 🙂

      And today I was listening to a great PodCast with John Lee Dumas and Russell Brunson, where Russell talks about “website funnels” and how he makes $32 on average out of each free book he gives away via Facebook Ads and Google Ads.

      Unlike other entrepreneurs who directly advertise the “big purchase” on Google AdWords and have incredibly high costs (the “old method”), he uses a strategic funnel, where he can afford a $32 cost per user acquisition.

      Food for thought 🙂

  • mark

    Reply Reply February 5, 2017

    Thank you for this article. I really like the fish metaphores. I have a small advertising agency in the US am always looking for ways to explain the differences between pay per click and traditional advertising to my small business advertisers in a relevant way. Your article does that very well.

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