Online ads vs. print ads: Which should you choose?

marketing strategy

Photo Credit: terrymorris

Advertising is the lifeblood of a business because it is the way that any business will get itself in front of the right number of eyes. For a small business, it is especially important to have an advertising budget, but the advertising budget can’t be a situation where swinging and missing is ok. Instead, the business has to have the right advertising budget and target those dollars effectively so that the people who are the target audience have the benefit of receiving your message in the best way. This is how sales are maximized – by meeting the customers where they are. However, there is more than goes into advertising than just dollars and cents along with meeting customers where they are. Efficacy matters, and until recently, the conventional wisdom was that the online ad was a better use of money than the print ad, but is that still really the case?

The thing to do is take a look at why online advertising along with print advertising are where they are and the benefits of each. For example, online advertising has the benefit of being cheaper, while print advertisement has a tactile nature that online advertising can never replicate. Also, there are issues where the use of ad blocker is affecting online ads; this is problematic because online ads are great because of their reach, while print ads can be stuffed into any mailbox. Therefore, it is imperative to look at both, and see the benefits so your business can decide which is the best way forward.

The Story about Online Advertising

There are plenty of reasons why online advertising is a great idea. The first reason behind why many businesses are switching to online advertising comes from the fact that 87% of Americans use the internet. This is pretty much one of the few things the country agrees on – internet use. That being said, there is also a market for online ads. The reason being that the internet is a service people have to pay for, so that means the audience has money and is ready to use it. The explosive growth in this industry means there are plenty of new and unique ways to target prospects as well.

There are some other excellent advantages of online advertising as well. Thanks to having customer data, you can effectively target customers as they search for products. This means if they are looking for something on Amazon, you can have your product advertised and that advertisement will appear on the customer’s timeline. In other words, because the customer is looking for a widget, this means that your widget or widget accessory will appear for them. This is different than just putting a bunch of fliers on car windows – you have a greater chance for success here.

The other great thing about online advertising is how you can make it scientific. With tracking and analytics, you can hone your message and your customers in a way that is not possible with print advertising. The great thing about analytics is you get to know where your customers are coming from and which of your advertising tactics are working the best. Then you can overload on that tactic and in turn, that allows you to reach more of your customers in less time. You can also target based on other things such as geography and interests. There are plenty of great things that you can do with analytics and tracking, including using different types of ads for different types of clientele.

The other great thing about online advertising is the cost-benefit ratio. The reality is that you can spend a few dollars on targeted online ads and once you make a few sales from the leads generated by those ads, your campaign has essentially paid for itself and now you are in the position where you are making more money than you previously would have if you decided against the online advertising.

The Benefits of Print Advertising

Despite the idea that print advertising is something of the past, the truth is that print advertising does have its place in today’s world. There are many reasons for print advertising to be used in place of online advertising. One of the easiest things to consider for print advertising is when you are looking for a super-local audience. For example, if you are a bar, having print advertising is brilliant because you can cover cars in fliers that are all nearby. This is an easy way to fill up the bar and the reality is that the margin on the drinks and the cover charge will pay for the print advertisements.

However, you don’t need to be operating a bar or a club in order to take advantage of the benefits of print advertising. For example, people who are in the sales industry use print collateral all the time. The reason is that these materials are tactile and give a prospect something to look over. The nature of this stuff is really easy to perceive because it fights right in your hand, you can see it, touch it, and feel it. For many people, this makes a difference as well. Though print advertising does cost more than online advertising, it does have some very serious benefits and that makes it a formidable contender for your advertising budget.


There are many reasons you could choose to use either print advertising or to go with the online alternative. The thing to think about is what is the goal of your business – are you trying to get a bunch of people from a really small area to see what you are doing or are you looking for a larger base of customers? The answer to this question will undoubtedly inform your decision on how to spend your advertising dollars. The key is for a small business is to make sure you know who your prospective customers are and make the right investment.


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