There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the death of print media. We can see evidence of this with the rise of digital media and the decline of traditional media in terms of news sources. People would rather go online, for free, than subscribe to a magazine or newspaper, in addition to ditching other forms of media, as well. Makes sense, but what does this mean for the advertising world? If people are leaving print media for online and social media, it must make more sense to move your advertising dollars to the web, right? For me, the answer is an emphatic, “YES.”

Let’s start with something that we can all understand; money. Print advertising can be very expensive, and you can’t really be sure that your dollars are being put to good use.  Let’s say that a magazine has a maximum readership of 30,000, and it costs you $1,500 to run a half-page ad for one month. In a best-case scenario, the maximum amount of people that your $1,500 ad could reach is 30,000. Want a full-page ad? That’ll cost you $2,500, but here’s the kicker: you’ve just spent an extra grand, with little to no guarantee that your ad is ever going to reach anything close to 30,000 people. After the issue of the magazine with your ad goes on sale, can you tell how many impressions you got from your ad? Not unless you personally call all of the subscribers and ask, which would be a bit of a pain, to put it nicely.

In terms of money spent wisely, online advertising wins, hands-down. First and foremost, you set your budget, not Facebook, Google, LinkedIn or whichever site you choose to advertise with. Want to spend $10? No problem. Want to spend $3,000? Go right ahead! An important distinction between online and print advertising is that you only pay for the individual clicks that your ads get, nothing more and nothing less. If you set your budget at $3,000, but only get $500 worth of clicks, you only pay $500. If you run a print ad for $3,000 but only 50 people see it, you’re out $3,000, and you may not have turned any of those people into new customers. Online: 1, Print: 0.

Now, let’s talk about customization and track-ability; we’ll use Facebook as an example. Before my Facebook ad campaign begins, I can set my budget, my target audience and the length of my campaign. I can tailor my ad for any audience on Facebook based on pages and interests that they like, age, gender and location, right down to the zip code. What types of hobbies do the 50 people that saw your magazine ad enjoy? Your guess is as good as mine. Online: 2, Print: 0. 

We already know that after your $3,000 print ad gets published, there is no realistic way for you to track its performance. The same does not hold true for my hypothetical Facebook campaign. During my campaign, I can see how many impressions, clicks, actions and page “Likes” each of my ads have generated down to the minute, and I can continuously edit any aspect of my ads (headline, copy, image) throughout the campaign. After my campaign has ended, I can view every important statistic known to the advertising world, and base my next campaign around these statistics. Online: 3, Print: 0.

If there is one important point that I’d like you to take away from this, it’s that data drives smart advertising. Online advertising has it, and print media simply doesn’t. Your audience is on Facebook and they’re interested in you and your business – all you have to do is get in front of them. Why not do it in the most cost-effective way possible?