Integrating Online and Traditional Advertising: A South African Case Study

International Journal of Applied Marketing (ISSN: 1742-2612) Volume 1 Issue 1

By Janette Hanekom and Charmaine du Plessis,
University of South Africa (Unisa), South Africa

Marketers and advertisers realise the importance of the Internet as a new communication medium to acquaint more customers with an organisation’s new product(s) or service(s). They, however, also realise that traditional media have numerous advantages which will never make them obsolete. One of the objectives of advertising agencies has become to integrate their traditional and online advertising efforts in the most effective way. South Africa is no exception as South Africans are today part of the global Internet community.

Even though online advertising is still in its infancy in this country, leading South African advertising agencies now use an integrated approach to provide maximum advertising reach to their respective clients.

The purpose of this article is to provide a South African perspective by indicating how one leading and prizewinning South African advertising agency integrates its traditional and online advertising activities.


The Internet has since its emergence, along with Internet resources or applications such as the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail (E-mail) and online services, received much attention from both individuals and organisations. Organisations currently adopt and use “varying subsets of the Internet” for instance E-mail, the corporate Web site, electronic commerce (e-commerce), etc (Prescott & Van Slyke 1997:119).

The Internet has also become a popular new communication medium for various forms of marketing communications, especially advertising. As the Internet advanced, the Internet community consisting of academic institutions and government bodies never allowed any form of advertising, until a couple of years ago (Rao 1997). The Internet was not initially developed as a commercial medium, but rather a scientific, informative, factual communication medium. Over the years, the Internet became accessible to more commercially oriented users and as a result, online advertising was allowed for the first time. Primarily, organisations offered information and promotional material through textual gopher documents, mass E-mailings and the posting of messages in UseNet discussion groups pertaining to the kind of product or service offered. However, advertisers realised that the posting of unsolicited promotion material, or junk E-mail, is intrusive in nature and that it was not the most effective method for online advertising. Another alternative was to set up commercial gopher sites that provided listings of commercial products and services and search facilities to locate advertisements meeting specific criteria. However, the “blandness” of the text medium did not accomplish the desired impact (Rao 1997).

Subsequently, the concept of distributed hypermedia documents was developed. The National Centre for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in the United States of America (USA) released Mosaic, based on hypertext technology, namely the WWW. The Web now supports multimedia and anyone with a graphical user interface can browse the hyperlinks and instantly be connected to different continents. This development no doubt augmented online advertising.

Kassaye (1997) explains that online or Web advertising has the same purpose as that of advertising in traditional media, namely to inform, enhance sales and to improve the organisation’s product(s) and corporate image. Numerous literature indicates that the WWW differs from traditional media in terms of its accessibility, market size and the potential to reach masses (eg Guth & Marsh, 2000; Hahn & Stout, 1994; Herbig & Hale, 1997 & Marlow, 1999). Unlike advertising in traditional media, online advertising tends to concentrate less on a well-defined geographic area. In addition, the use of the Web for advertising purposes makes the organisation’s market global and the market segment less well-defined. The Web differs the most from traditional media in terms of interactivity, which renders the Web a unique and exciting medium with various possibilities for advertising purposes (Kassaye,1997).

Hanekom and Scriven (2002:49) point out that advertising in traditional media has various advantages which will never make these media obsolete. Advertising agencies decide how best to integrate existing media activities with online media. According to Kassaye (1997) this should occur on two levels. The first level is integration between and among Web efforts and focuses on the need to integrate and assure effective exposure to an organisation or brand. The second level accommodates online advertising efforts and all other marketing communications efforts including sales promotions, television and radio advertising and print advertising.

According to Kassaye (1997), although numerous advertisements in traditional media, for instance print, also display the organisation’s Web address (i) , organisations still have to engage in fully integrated marketing communications and need to determine how online advertising augments their traditional media efforts.

An integrated approach entails that the organisation has “an overall communication strategy” for each target market. In order to create synergy, the organisation should concentrate on the integration of the message with (a) media vehicles used (b) target market expectations, motives and needs and (c) various functions performed by the organisation, for instance public relations and sales promotions. Kassaye (1997) recommends that the Web should be used to create an integrated message strategy “that has a greater overall impact than when each vehicle with its message for the target market, is independently selected”.

i.) A content analysis of 1 249 advertisements in 20 magazines in the United States of America (USA) by the academics Pardun and Lamb (1999:93) indicates that 42 percent of these advertisements included Web addresses. By creating an advertisement in traditional media where the organisation also lists its E-mail address or location of its Web site, the organisation in reality advertises ‘twice'. This not only creates more awareness of the organisation and its products, but also facilitates contact with the consumer.

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