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Online vs Offline Advertising – All You Need to Know

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on May 30th, 2024 1:56 pm | 5-min read
Online vs. Offline Advertising | Where to Invest

Offline advertising examples typically include print advertising, radio, and television. Print is all about magazines, newspapers, billboards and, even, pamphlets. Offline advertising methods primarily consist of traditional marketing techniques including print ads, TVCs, and radio scripts.

Digital or online advertising refers to advertising on internet-based channels, including websites, mobile ads, social media platforms (Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter), search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and email marketing. The digital ad expenses across the globe are expected to reach $375 billion by 2021. Collectively they are often referred to as modern advertising.

In this article we will be looking closely at both kinds of advertising with focus on difference between online and offline advertising. The article has generous amounts of online vs offline advertising statistics to substantiate the difference between online and offline advertising.

Online vs. Offline Advertising | Where to Invest

Cost Comparison And Impact Tracking Options

  • Offline Ads
  • Offline ad campaign costs can be steep depending on the publishing house or TV channel you are working with. If we take up offline advertising examples, a full-page ad on a popular paper can cost somewhere between $2,700 and $163,000. Airing TVCs during Prime Time can cost you from $100 to $2,000 each time, depending on the airing time, duration, and the channel’s reach.

    Most offline ads lack real-time tracking options. The impression of an offline ad campaign takes time to build. The impact can be widespread depending on the channel chosen by the advertiser, but there is no way you can calculate the reach as soon as your release the prints. In fact, some of the best offline advertising ideas suffer from this very real and very tough challenge of trackability.

  • Online ads
  • On the other hand, digital ads can be more affordable than print ads because most of them don’t calculate cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), but cost-per-click (CPC). Online campaigns are easy to track, thanks to the hundreds of metrics that you can follow in real-time with PPC reporting.

    For example, in online advertising you can always calculate the click-through-rate of a sponsored ad, whether it is on Google, Facebook, or Instagram. Even advertisements on blogs come with similar tracking options that show you how many people have traveled from the hosting page to your brand’s landing page on any given day.

    Online vs. Offline Advertising | Where to Invest

    Set up Google AdWords tracking to keep tabs on your conversions. Use Google Tag Assistant to track your ROI on Google AdWords. Facebook Pixels provides a diverse array of up-to-date tracking options for all digital marketers. Head to the Ads Manager section, click on “Assets” and follow through to “Pixels.” Facebook Pixels will allow you to see what each visitor does on your site and how it influences your original campaign.

Bypassing ad blocking/skipping technology

  • Offline advertising

  • Offline advertising poses specific challenges for advertisers across the globe.

    The first problem comes from the viewer’s ability to switch channels while a commercial is airing. The second problem arises due to the consumer’s preference for streaming services, including Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and even YouTube, over traditional television. It creates a tricky situation when it is time to calculate the impressions the ad has generated.

    However, print ads in newspapers and magazines continue to generate high brand awareness and recall. People cannot employ ad-blockers as they use on their YouTube and streaming platform accounts. Print ads might be a traditional form of marketing, but it is immune from ad-blockers, unlike their digital counterparts.

  • Online advertising

  • Online advertising companies are leveraging innovative ways to prevent visitors/viewers from skipping ads. YouTube includes compulsory viewing of one or more ads depending on the duration of the video. However, it’s worth noting that some users utilize ad blockers for YouTube to bypass or skip these ads, emphasizing the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between advertisers and viewers.

    Social media sponsored ads now look similar to organic content, which social media users typically don’t skip over, upon first glance. Research shows that sponsored content on social media pages, which looks like user-generated content, garners more attention from targeted users and is one of the most popular technique opted by online advertising companies.

Tracking metrics and calculating ROI

  • Offline advertising

  • If you are airing an ad on prime-time TV, it can cost you thousands of dollars every day. You need to repeat the airing for days, if not weeks, during the peak hours to be able to calculate the returns.

    Or, you need to include your landing page URL, coupon codes or QR codes in your offline ad to track views. The same is true for both newsprint ads and radio scripts. Unless these ads have run for a couple of weeks, calculating the return-on-investment (ROI) is almost impossible.

    That means you may end up spending a fortune on an offline advertising campaign that has nominal ROI. You have no chances of making changes in the content or choosing a new channel/medium since you have no way to judge the impression it is creating overnight.

  • Online advertising

  • Online advertising has an inherent flexibility that enables you to monitor the CPC and PPC ads. When you notice that your Google AdWords is not generating enough views, you can work on a new keyword strategy, body copy, or images for your campaign.

    Online advertising is characterized by a certain agility and customizability which ensure minimal wastage of resources and time. Arranging for the new advertisement to go online takes on a couple of minutes as compared to hours or days for TV or radio in case of offline advertising. So, a good online advertising agency can start a new PPC campaign for you today, and still meet your deadline, which is next to impossible for offline ads.

Release and distribution of ads

  • Offline advertising

  • TVCs, radio scripts, and newspaper advertisements can feel restrictive. In the first two instances, you will need to pick a particular time for airing the ad. On the other hand, newspapers come out daily, and magazines can be weekly, fortnightly, or monthly! The time-bound nature of offline ads restricts their impressions on the target viewers/readers.

  • Online vs. Offline Advertising | Where to Invest

  • Online advertising

  • Online ads can “air” 24/7. Think about it! When you go online in the afternoon, you get to see an ad on your Facebook or Instagram wall from an XYZ Company. When you go online again at night, the ML algorithm is likely to show you the same or at least similar ads on the same platform. That is the real advantage of online ads and a good online advertising agency can help you exploit this to your maximum advantage. You get an almost unlimited uptime for your ads throughout the day and night for a fraction of the cost of offline advertising.

Targeting particular segments of the consumer-base

  • Offline advertising

  • When was the last time you read the newspaper? Even if it was today morning, think of the millions of others who have read the same publication. Do you think each person
    who reads a newspaper and sees a particular ad has the same interest in brands or products?

    Newspaper ads, magazine ads, TVCs and, even, radio spots, or other offline advertising methods might seem most effective because they reach thousands or even millions at a go. Still, there is no guarantee that a majority of them reach their target audience. Reports show that the impact of traditional advertising has become very low due to the lack of an advertiser’s ability to target the right users.

  • Online advertising

  • Thanks to the advent of online advertising tools, even if you don’t want to build your audience from scratch, you can leverage groups on social media to “broadcast” your message. Facebook allows brands to reach target audiences similar to their customer base by allowing the marketing team to import their CRM (customer relationship management) platform on the site.

    Similarly, LinkedIn allows marketers to target specific audience groups by filtering them via company name and size, industry, connections, followers, job title, job function, seniority, and experience. On the other hand, Instagram is the best platform for attracting Gen Z and millennial consumers. Over 64% of the site’s users are between 18 and 29 years of age, making it easier to target them.

    One important aspect that should not be overlooked by a marketer is retargeting and the better online advertising companies can help you set up some great retargeting campaign. This involves exposing an already interested audience to relevant ads or products increasing the chances of conversion.


In this debate about online advertising vs offline advertising, it is easy to see why online advertising and digital marketing have gained rapid popularity, and offline advertising is slowly edging closer to retirement. However, it is safe to say that print ads are still quite far from stepping down. To date, Google and Facebook reserve the largest market share of sponsored content. Most small businesses enjoy an ROI of $3 for $1.60 spent on Google AdWords.

In spite of the multiple differences between online and offline advertising, each has its own advantages and challenges. So, it’s not exactly a question of choosing one out of the two. Instead, focus on distributing your budget over different channels of offline advertising and online advertising, while keeping their inherent advantages and disadvantages in mind.

The other end of the spectrum is putting up ads on your digital properties like mobile apps and garnering sizeable revenue. Appy Jump is a brilliant monetization platform by serving ads. Go ahead and give it a try now!

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Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie

App Builder

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