Traditional vs. Digital Advertising: What’s Best for Your Law Firm

| Array Digital |

At Array Digital, we spend a lot of time determining which platforms provide the best value for advertising. We work with law firms who have historically thrown all of their marketing into traditional advertising – TV, radio, mailers, etc. But we see more and more of these law firms shifting their budget to digital advertising. Why is that?

Some media, such as radio, is much older than other media like social media. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, and benefits to those businesses that employ these tactics.

Traditional media is defined as media that existed before the rise of the internet. That includes newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio, and broadcast TV, and direct mail. Digital media includes everything you see online — online advertising, search engines, social media, video streaming services, and websites. Digital also includes other online and mobile techniques such as geofencing, OTT (over the top) long-form video, and Digital OHH (digital out of home) such as digital billboards.

This article provides a comparison of advertising options in traditional and digital media. It’s probably no surprise that the advertising industry has been a tailspin for years as new technologies are constantly introduced, shifting consumer attention and offering alternative advertising platforms.

At what point do these alternative platforms become “the” platforms? Or has this already happened?

Shifts in Consumer Attention

Viewership and listenership — what I like to refer to collectively as attention — is quickly shifting from traditional to digital. The below chart from Statista shows how quickly the shift has occurred.

Via Statista

What was a wide gap just 11 short years ago has closed. These two trend lines have already overlapped. Consumer attention has clearly shifted from traditional to digital.

Decline of TV Viewership

Ok, but the above is for all of traditional media as a whole. What about the advertising bellwether, TV? How is TV doing?

When viewership shifts from one media to another, their time and attention is shifting as well.

Law Firm Advertising Trends: Follow the Money

Where attention shifts, advertising shifts. The following chart shows the advertising spend for the top 200 leading national advertisers by type of media, as reported by AdAge.

This chart tells an amazing story!

Internet advertising is growing like crazy. TV advertising has taken a dip of about 8% from its high from 2012.

Newspapers have been absolutely decimated. They’ve lost an astounding 80% of their revenue! 

Radio, after being hammered by the emergence of TV about 70 years ago, will have lost 38% of its revenue over a 20 years span.

Magazines — down a crazy 67% in revenue!

Out of home — billboards, signage, ads before a movie in the theatre — surprisingly, have seen consistent growth, increasing revenue 66% over 20 years. Well done OOH!

Determining Where to Advertise

With so much of consumers’ time and attention shifting from traditional to digital marketing, and with the leading advertisers shifting their advertising spend to follow the attention, what’s a small business owner or manager to make of these changes?

Some of the law firms we work with still rely in some part on traditional advertising. The best source to determine if traditional advertising is having an impact is by asking potential clients how they heard of your firm.

One of our clients in Virginia Beach recently analyzed that data and found that in 2-1/2 months, only one lead was attributable to TV advertising. Further analysis of their web traffic resulted in realizing that just 1.5% of web traffic may have been derived from TV.

We’ve seen similar data for radio advertising. Think you’re results are about the same?

One significant difference between traditional and digital marketing is what’s called attribution or where the lead came from. With digital marketing, we have fine-grained accountability of exactly where leads come from and can fine-tune our message and ads based on that data.

If an ad is working well, we shift more advertising budget to it and we cut the underperformers. That is not possible with traditional advertising because there is a significant lack of data.

Ready to take the next step towards digital marketing for your law firm?

Contact Us for and we’ll briefly walk you through your options.

Storytelling in Advertising

Advertising relies heavily on storytelling. Storytelling allows advertisers to frame a scene that’s familiar and relatable to the consumer. The best way to tell a story quickly is through video and pictures. After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video done well is worth a hundred thousand words.

TV historically was the king media for storytelling. In 15 to 30 seconds, a scene could be set, a trusted advisor introduced, and a common problem would be solved. Moving pictures is the primary reason that TV dominated radio and print when it was introduced. Second best to TV was print due to its ability to include images. Following print was radio which offered the capability to describe something best suited for visual consumption.

The first internet banner ad, via The Atlantic.

In the early days of Internet advertising, we had banner ads. Obnoxious and conspicuous, they were the bane of the early days of the internet. But they worked. According to The Atlantic, the above banner ad was purchased by AT&T on HotWired.com in 1994.

About 44 percent of the people who saw it actually clicked on it.

Cool, but that didn’t last long. Banner ads don’t tell a story. They demanded attention through antics that anyone who remembers the internet of the mid-90s cringes at. Slowly the state of internet advertising advanced and became more subtle. And bearable. 

Now, online advertising can include images, multiple images in a slide deck, and video. Internet ads are also much more relevant given the high degree of targeting capability. Many of the ads you’ll see online these days are actually products that could make sense for you to purchase. The use of video online with ads is a powerful combination, one that rivals TV. With attention already shifting to search engines, social media, and the rest of the internet, the addition of video ads tells a story, an element that is familiar to the consumer.

Broadcast vs Targeted Delivery

Since traditional advertising is broadcast via mass communication, anyone can receive it. Generally, a particular type of programming will attract the same type of person.

So a particular station, channel, or program will have more of one demographic profile than another. As an example, a show about hunting will likely draw older men than young women.

Targeting with traditional advertising is based on the percentage of readers, viewers, listeners, or people within proximity of a public ad.

Using polling mechanisms such as the Nielsen ratings, the percentage of each demographic of a medium can be estimated through statistically relevant sampling.

The best that law firms who want to go the traditional advertising route can do is to broadcast their ad on a medium that has a high concentration of the demographic they wish to attract. They cast a wide net and hope to grab the attention of the subset of viewers that their offering may appeal to. But, they’re paying to show the ad to the rest of the non-target audience as well.

Contrast the broadcasting approach with the capabilities of digital advertising. Digital platforms hold personal data at the individual level. Now, those platforms protect individual personal data to the best of their abilities, but they also aggregate that data in a way that allows marketers to provide contextually relevant messaging to the individual people.

When your law firm chooses to advertise digitally, you will not know who the individuals are that are getting your messaging, but you know that they are relevant based on the filtering that is specified.

To continue with the hunting example, if we were to advertise for a hunting product on Google or Bing then we’d have our advertisement show anytime someone searched for a relevant hunting term in our relevant geographic region.

Let’s say you are a personal injury lawyer looking for car accident victims to defend. If someone searches for “car accident lawyer” and if they are in a geographic area that you support, you can have an ad shown for your personal injury law firm at the exact moment that they have the intent to find a lawyer that can fight for them after a car accident.

Amazing, right? But wait, there’s more.

Let’s say your Google or Facebook ad resonated with the person searching for a car accident lawyer and they clicked through to your website.

But they didn’t fill out a contact form. That’s ok.

With a technology called retargeting, we can show them an advertisement on Facebook, other social networks, and on relevant websites across the internet, for your personal injury services.

Retargeting reinforces the recent intent that they already expressed by going to your website.

We already know that the individual was interested enough in tree stands that they went to your website — we don’t want to let the lead go. With retargeting, which is relatively inexpensive, we can remind the consumer about what they’re missing by not buying your tree stand and why your law firm is the best in the world.

We can set a budget that will dictate how frequently they will see your ad after going to your website (ex: two times a day) and we can set how long they will see your ads for (ex: within 30 days of visiting your site). With this, you don’t have just one shot at getting the attention of a relevant consumer; you can stay in front of them.

With social media advertising, we can create text, image, and video-based ads that target consumers individually by their interests and intent.

Using various techniques, we can find individuals on Facebook who are looking for a personal injury lawyer and have sufficient income or net worth to afford the offering and show them Facebook ads that are relevant to their interests.

We can even have different ads for different demographics   because people resonate better with those who look, sound, and act like us. Within a large demographic, we can continue to segment even further. Once they click on the ad and go to your site, you can retarget them going forward.

How Reach & Engagement Are Measured

Reach is defined as how many people see or hear the media. Engagement is how many people take some sort of action such as calling, clicking, liking, or sharing what they receive from the media.

Measuring Radio

According to Nielsen, radio has the largest reach of all – 93% of adult Americans (18+) tune into AM/FM radio each week, and 243 million each month. That’s pretty amazing. Radio is the king of reach. But radio gets very low engagement.

There’s no user interface with radio, and most of listeners are in cars during their morning or evening commutes. A person has to take out their phone while driving, remember the number or website address they just hear, and call or click — while driving. Radio doesn’t have any form of direct engagement.

But radio can lead to brand awareness and boost other types of more engaging advertising.

Measuring TV

It’s actually quite difficult to figure out how many people watch TV. Neilsen provides the number of US households with TVs (about 119 million), but that doesn’t equate to people.

And TV is no longer a well-defined term that means broadcast over the airwaves or cable.

There’s “linear” TV which is effectively streamed by the broadcaster and you watch whatever is being broadcast, there’s time-delayed (ex: DVR), connected TVs (delivered via the Internet), and OTT (over the top) is effectively TV content delivered on non-TV devices like phones. TV has really gotten quite unruly.

Anyway, here’s a relevant chart from Nielsen that clearly shows TV has less reach than radio.

Engagement wise, TV is similar to radio. There’s no way to directly engage with TV.

But at least people are sitting on their couches and they have a laptop in the lap or a phone in hand and they can navigate online much easier than engaging with radio.

This is what’s referred to as “the second screen”.

Watching TV on the first screen and following up on the offering seen on TV with the phone (the second screen).

Measuring Digital Marketing

Measuring digital marketing, represented by smartphones, PC, and tablets in the above chart ,  is equally difficult to put my finger on for reach.

Neilsen says that search sites like Google reach 197M people per month, eCommerce 143M, social media 179M, video sites 143M, news sites 105M, and sports sites get 57M people.

But it is not possible to find how many unique people there are. Sometimes, like it or not, the data doesn’t yield clear answers.

But what is clear is that advertisers move to where the action is, and advertising is migrating online.

(see the above chart from AdAge that shows internet ad spend skyrocketing)

That’s because of the rich ability to target individual, just-in-time intent instead of broadcasting to the general population provided by traditional TV, radio, and print.

Engagement is very high online — it’s one giant social experiment where people rate, review, like, share, and click. If someone has an opinion, it’ll be expressed online.

Online is where all the engagement happens.

What Does All This Mean?

We’ve dumped a lot of data on you and it can be tough to make heads or tails of this, so let us clearly summarize the state of traditional and digital media.

People are fleeing from traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers) to digital media (websites, social media) through their smartphones and laptops.

Although some forms of traditional media continue to have reach in the US, their revenue stream is getting hammered as advertisers follow the vast majority of people whose time and attention has migrated to digital media.

As marketers, we know that your marketing budget would be better spent in the digital medium but is your law firm ready to move away from the legacy of traditional media and declining returns to make a name in emerging digital?

CONTACT US NOW, if you are ready to learn how to grow new cases for your firm without gimmicky bullshit. We’ll use our decades of experience to create a strategy that helps you gain a wider reach and get more cases.

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Website Design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Online Advertising, Social Media & Digital Marketing.

© 2021 Array Digital LLC

Website Design, Online Advertising, SEO, Social Media & Digital Marketing.
© 2021 Array Digital LLC