Online advertising versus print advertising. In my line of work, I get asked this question a lot. Which is better, online advertising or print advertising?The answer is two-fold. One, it depends. Two, they’re both important if you are serious about marketing your business. I’m big on the “360 degree” comprehensive marketing plan that utilizes many different touch points. Think about your ideal customers right now. It is likely, no matter what industry your business sits in, that they are fragmented, don’t have a lot of time, use a lot of different communication methods (email, phone, Instant Messenger, mail, etc.), and use a lot of different methods to consume content and information (iPad, BlackBerry, Magazines, Search Engines, etc.) Because of this, a marketer has to use a lot of different tactics as part of their marketing strategy.But sometimes, there are clear advantages to focusing your time in online advertising versus print advertising. I came up with a list of ten advantages, and I will present four of them here for you. (My next post will take the reverse approach and provide the advantages for print advertising versus online advertising.) In no particular order:1) SpeedI have been around print advertising all of my life, and the one word I could use to describe it is “slow”. It takes time to create a print advertisement to fit specifications. It takes time to provide the files. It takes time for the publication to go to print or for the mailing package to get produced. It takes time for the postal service to do its job. Then, it takes time to see results which are sometimes measured in weeks! Contrast all of this with the online advertising process. It takes time to create the advertisement, sure. But everything after that can basically be measured in hours, not days, weeks or months. Once you have created the ad, you can have the ads running on a website or in a search engine within minutes, have the ad appear within a few more minutes, and have data on your ads a few hours later. That’s fast.2) ScaleMost print publications, or direct mailings, have a pretty finite amount of reach or circulation. In other words, you’re able to reach only people associated with that print advertising effort. To get any sort of multiplier effect in order for more people to see or react to your advertisements, you have to repeat the process noted above over and over again or buy more ads. In the online advertising world, achieving scale becomes easier due to a lot of factors including but not limited to word of mouth, viral marketing, technology, and exposing your advertisements to a lot more people. Sheer numbers are easier to achieve online.3) TargetingIt is quite simply just plain easier to target your best prospects or customers online versus through print. Take search engines for example. You can target advertisements solely to people who enter search terms related to your product or service, thereby qualifying them and getting exposed to people who have a high probability of being interested in what you have to offer. Another form of targeting easier to do online is geographic targeting, which goes with “Scale” above. Many businesses only want to reach people in a certain geographic area of the country, and it is infinitely easier to do this online versus offline. You can advertise on the web ensuring only people in a certain zip code, city, state or region see that ad. In short, there’s no “waste” which occurs in paying for ads that appear to people who aren’t relevant to your business because they don’t fit a basic geographic criteria.4) CostProbably the easiest one, because I think it is common knowledge that 1) most forms of online advertising are cheaper on a dollar to dollar basis than print advertising and 2) taking into account everything you can do listed above, the value and upside of online advertising is much greater than in print.Now, this doesn’t mean that the sky is completely falling for print advertising. But the factors above are some of the reasons why the online advertising industry is growing (and is forecast to grow for the foreseeable future), while the print advertising industry is seeing difficulty (and is forecast to continue to see difficulty). Even still, there are some tremendous opportunities that are unique to print advertising which I will talk about next time. I always recommend a comprehensive approach to marketing, which includes a print component, but especially if you’re in the early stages of forming a business or are looking to transition from an offline ad strategy to an online ad strategy, you will want to focus online and take note of what I list above.