Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Business/Industry insights

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing involves the promotion of brands to engage potential customers through the internet and various digital communication channels.

Digital marketing materials come in various forms, including display advertisements, online videos, search engine optimization, social media posts and sponsored ads.

According to recent data published by Statista, digital ad spending is projected to reach $740 billion USD in 2024. This not only underscores the steady rise of digital marketing but also emphasizes that the industry is thriving with opportunities.

Professionals providing digital marketing services can anticipate reasonable compensation for their expertise. According to 1,000 reports in January 2024, the average digital marketing salary in Canada stands at $57,000.

What is traditional marketing?

In comparison to digital marketing, traditional marketing pertains to an approach that utilizes offline media to connect with the audience.

Traditional marketing services encompass techniques predating digital marketing, such as physical mail, print advertisements, billboards, radio broadcasting, cold calling and more.

Digital marketing vs. traditional marketing: their distinguishing features

Keeping the current expansion of digital marketing in mind, it is fair to assume that digital ad technique is speedily taking over television ad-based traditional advertising technologies.

But before you jump to any conclusion, we would suggest you look through the following pointers to better understand the difference between the two, in terms of their growth and prominence.

First, traditional media is typically distributed and accessed through print, television and radio while digital media is distributed through social media, email and search engines.

When compared to traditional methods, digital media is incredibly cost-effective in that one will pay less to get advertisements distributed and acquire new customers.

Another difference is that in traditional marketing, it is more difficult for professionals to track how viewers interact with advertisements running on television or print. Whereas digital marketers can directly address messages, email and comments on their social media channels and website.

What are the pros and cons of digital marketing?

As technology advances, it's essential to synchronize with online marketing channels and their potential to drive global progress. Let's explore the advantages and disadvantages of digital marketing. Here are the key pros and cons:


  • Digital marketing offers increased opportunities for engagement. Platforms like social media allow you to directly observe your audience's opinions on your brand and marketing endeavours. Positive interactions such as shares, likes, and favourable comments serve as indicators of effective marketing strategies
  • Digital marketing also allows users to easily measure campaigns. In contrast to traditional marketing, digital marketing tracking provides intricate details, offering clear insights for refining future marketing endeavours
  • This form of modern marketing also facilitates precise targeting. With the capability to specifically target a specific user like a 29-year-old male writer who enjoys watching sports and drinking coffee, the potential to create precisely tailored content is readily apparent in digital marketing


  • Digital marketing advertisements may be perceived as intrusive. Imagine scrolling through your Facebook feed, seeking updates from old school friends, only to encounter a sponsored ad related to a health concern you researched the night before. Such experiences can lead to active disapproval of the brand employing these targeted tactics
  • Digital marketing campaigns all have the potential to create a lacklustre impact. Google ads, banners, promotional emails or social media ads, all possess a transient nature. Being intangible, they can be easily overlooked, disappearing from the viewer's screen if they continue scrolling or move to the next page
  • The consistent evolution of digital marketing requires continuous learning. Each channel, whether it's search engine marketing or social media, demands specialized expertise for optimal results. While this may seem daunting, starting with a grassroots social media marketing strategy can serve as an excellent foundation. Explore our digital marketing strategy guide for inspiration

What are the pros and cons of traditional marketing?

There are many advantages and disadvantages of traditional marketing. Here are the key pros and cons to note when looking to create an ad or a marketing campaign:


  • There is more memorability to traditional marketing in that encountering something in person, as opposed to on a phone screen, increases the likelihood of retention. The excitement surrounding anticipated events like the Super Bowl ads or an impressive window display tends to linger in your memory more than an Instagram ad that you might scroll past in mere seconds
  • Traditional marketing is effective and straightforward as a visually striking billboard or an attention-grabbing TV commercial is a routine aspect of many people's daily experiences. They are easily comprehensible and often provide entertainment
  • There is a lasting impact of traditional marketing in that having an advertisement in The New York Times ensures its visibility until the magazine is recycled, making it ideal for enthusiastic collectors


  • Traditional marketing is often expensive so affording a four-page spread in Vogue might be challenging for an up-and-coming brand. Many traditional marketing avenues come with a substantial price tag
  • It is more challenging to gauge campaign effectiveness in traditional marketing. Although there are methods to measure traditional marketing campaigns, such as brand trackers, they lack the depth and sophistication of tools available for digital marketing
  • Traditional marketing offers no direct consumer engagement. In contrast to digital marketing, traditional methods leave you relatively uninformed about your audience's response to your marketing endeavours as there are no efficient forms of feedback or interaction

In the comparison of traditional marketing to digital marketing, it is evident that digital marketing has elevated advertising strategies, enabling a younger and broader audience to comprehend content and share their perspectives simultaneously.

Discover the Digital Marketing with Co-op program at the Canadian College of Technology and Business (CCTB) to hone your skills in empathizing with your audience and becoming an outstanding marketer!

Submit your applications today and move closer to crafting strategic marketing plans that resonate most with your audience's thoughts.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Some examples of traditional marketing are physical mail, print advertisements, billboards, radio broadcasting, cold calling and more.

Traditional marketing is not as effective anymore in the ad industry because it is often expensive to adopt, its effectiveness is difficult to measure and it does not offer a direct connection to consumers for feedback and engagement.

Some examples of digital marketing materials include display advertisements, online videos, search engine optimization, social media posts and sponsored ads.

20 September, 2021

More News & Blogs

Back to blog

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the territories on which CCTB and its campus are situated are the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We thank them for having cared for this land since time immemorial, honour their graciousness to the students who seek knowledge here, and iterate our dedication to valuing the ongoing contributions of Indigenous peoples and communities.