Advertising on Digital Media – Analyzing the Pros and Cons

Digital technologies have brought about radical shifts in advertising – From traditional broadcast media channels like TV, radio and print we see the prevalence of a plethora of diverse digital channels with diverse ad formats.

There has been a dramatic increase in the total spending on advertising on digital media, with the numbers more than doubling in the last few years.

This shift in advertising has offered many new possibilities in the hands of the marketers-

  1. Marketers can now track and measure the reach and effectiveness of an advertisement floated on digital media.
  2. It is now possible to target advertisements down to the single customer. Marketers can customize ads and let algorithms determine the best way to distribute them to audiences.
  3. Marketers can optimize an advertisement with real-time inputs about how it is performing.
  4. Marketers have an opportunity to operate smartly on even low budgets – choose the channels, keywords and segments wisely – to win, unlike the big ticket traditional broadcast media channels.

It has almost become a cliché that digital media allows the marketers to communicate strategically with the right consumer at the right time with the right frequency; with a near real time analytics feedback loop to adjust either of them for a campaign, as soon as the marginal returns diminish.

For example, a marketer can tweak reach or frequency for digital campaigns towards the below effects –

Low Frequency High Frequency
High Reach To increase brand related metrics To communicate a high impact campaign / new message


Low Reach Testing a new brand / entering a new market Generate targeted sales (remarketing / shopping cart abandonment scenarios)

However, digital advertising is not all that rosy. There are a few downsides to it.

  1. New technologies offer as many opportunities as it uncovers ways of going in the wrong direction. The privacy issues, data leaks, swinging public mandates unnaturally (e.g. Cambridge Analytica fraud – where the firm illegally used the Facebook data to swing general election mandates in India) are a few examples to mention.
  2. Marketers need to understand the digital media landscape to safeguard their digital media investments against frauds, when media agencies publish their own figures:
    • Questioning reach and frequency – The traditional measures of advertisement in terms of gross rating points (GRP) and target rating points (TRP), which generally stands for audience reach multiplied by the frequency of the advertisement, stands at irrelevancy. Reach and frequency can be calculated separately in the digital world. Marketers need to deploy technology to detect possible ad fraud regarding reach and frequency to ensure that real people – and not bots – are the actual viewers of the ads.
    • Questioning click metrics – an impression on one platform might not have the same effect as an impression on another; it is important to distinguish between not only the quantity but also the quality of the impressions and clicks. Marketers need to stay alert and aware to avoid manipulated figures.
  3. The all-pervasive digital advertisements have saturated the customers, lowering their overall interest in advertisements – not only across digital channels but also across the traditional ones.
    • Digital media exposure is usually abundant, and users tend to process it with lower motivation.
  4. Insufficient exposure time and area calls for a fundamentally different kind of media planning and copy. Which should grab the attention immediately and convey the message quickly, at the same time not being intrusive either –
    • Shift from desktop to mobile to wearables are further pushing the advertisement formats smaller and shorter. Which can be really limiting for the advertisers to convey their messages.