Audience, Digital Marketing, Outdoor (Billboard), Print, Tracking, Traditional Media, TV, Website

Measuring the Impact of Digital vs. Traditional Advertising on Website Traffic

tradvsdig_mediabudgetsThere’s an old adage that says “Half of my marketing dollars are working, I just don’t know what half.”  How true is that in this digital age for most businesses that have a mix of digital and traditional advertising?

One of the million dollar questions that every business owner or marketer wants to answer is just how effective is my traditional advertising versus my digital advertising for my business?

Well, there is no silver bullet in the industry right now that answers this question with 100% percent certainty, but there are some tricks that you can use that help shed some light on how effective (or in-effective) your traditional advertising is at bringing consumers to your brand and engaging with your website.

The Concept

In order to do this experiment you’ll need to have installed Google Analytics on your website and have at least 30 days of traffic data.

Let me explain the concept, then we’ll get into the details.

ga_sourcesWhat we’re going to do is look at one month of traffic data and dive into the source information for our website visitors. Typically, you’ll have multiple sources to study but the most important ones are direct traffic and organic (search) traffic.

Direct traffic comes from users who are directly pointed to the website, meaning not through a search engine. These consumers may have bookmarked the website, typed the site address into the browser bar or visited via link from another source such as an online display ad or sponsored link.

Organic traffic is from consumers who visit your website from a search engine. This data is the real kicker, most consumer behavior data suggests that people will search for your company name even if they know your .com address.

In fact, they may even search your .com address name in Google itself. For example: searching for “” on Google and clicking the top organic link.

The Execution

This is where it get’s fun, we are able to track the types of organic keywords that consumers came in from.

We then can judge how many visits came from consumers who typed the name of your website or company, versus those that simply found your website based on a product of service keyword.

If a consumer visits your website from an organic search where they have found you using your company name, they obviously have been exposed to your brand by some other means. We’ll give credit to traditional advertising for these visits.

Organically, the visits that came from search engine where the consumer did not search for your company name we’ll attribute that to your organic optimization. We’ll  rule those numbers out of our equation.

Now, we’ll tally up the visits coming in from direct traffic and refferals.  We’ll give credit to digital advertising for these visits.

Measuring Traditional Media Impact

You can now measure the impact our traditional media has had over the past 30 days on our website traffic.

For example: if your website has 1,500 organic visits per month from search engines, and 45% of those visits came from consumers searching your company name, that equals 675 website visits. What percentage of your overall website traffic comes from consumers who already know your brand?

Now, calculate the amount of budget you spent over the past 30 days on traditional advertising. What is your cost-per-visitor?

Do the dollars you spend on traditional media justify the amount of traffic it directs to your website?
What percentage of your customers visit your website before shopping with you?

Measuring Digital Advertising Impact

You can now measure and compare your digital advertising spend vs. your traditional advertising spend on driving consumers to your website.

You’ll want to track how many website visits came from direct or referral sources. For example, any Google AdWords or targeted display campaigns, etc.

The first thing you need to do is gauge how much you, or your staff visit your own website per month and deduct that from the overall number of direct traffic visits. This will give you the most accurate number of true, digital advertising visits per month.

Now, calculate the amount of budget you spent over the past 30 days on digital advertising. What is your cost-per-visitor?

Do the dollars you spend on digital media justify the amount of traffic it directs to your website?

The Results


After your tally is complete, how do your ad dollars stack up? Would you change anything about your current media mix?


3 thoughts on “Measuring the Impact of Digital vs. Traditional Advertising on Website Traffic

  1. Reblogged this on Digital Marketing and commented:
    It is pertinent to have tools in your armory to gauge actual performance of digital and traditional advertising endeavors. Explore simple and straightforward way of evaluating outcomes of promotion activities on social media, search engine and traditional means.

  2. Pingback: The history of the Web teaches us how rapidly the web have changed in the past 15 years. | Digital Advertising and User Experience

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