The difference is as obvious as a pimple on the end of a teenagers nose the same day school photos are being taken, so the real question becomes how are they doing the same thing but different. After all, they are both doing the same thing (disseminating a message) and they are both supposed to be targeted to a specific group, so where does one do it one way whilst another does it another. Here are a few thoughts on the idea.
There is not a massive difference in this area because it all depends upon the scale of your advertising. If you put a small poster in a corner shop window then maybe around twenty people will see it, and the same may be true if you spent a similar amount on affiliate advertising.
Again, if you were to post big billboards on the highway then it will cost you a lot of money for a lot of people to see it. On the other hand, if you were to launch a large advertising campaign on the Internet then it may cost you just as much and roughly the same amount of people may see it.
It is possible to get a large reaction from a particularly effective viral marketing campaign online, but there have been viral marketing campaigns in the regular media when information is purposely held from people in order to get them talking about it. Nobody can claim that viral marketing is more effective on the Internet because thousands of viral marketing attempts are made every day and most of them come to nothing.
One may argue that it is cheaper to create a viral marketing campaign online, but that does not mean it will be more successful than one offline, nor is the rule always solid. It can cost a lot of money to get a viral campaign going online, especially when the company spends money making a follow up advert on YouTube.
Examples of offline and online viral marketing
For example, the company that produced V-Energy had to spend a lot of money to make their online and offline viral marketing work. They eventually created an advert that ran on social media that cost them a lot of money. The viral campaign was a big success with the bit hitter coming when they put a cone on the Auckland SkyTower, but the amount they spent online to get the required response (and also to create the YouTube advert) was quite a bit.
There was a very successful offline viral campaign revolving around crazy frog, and that was built around a mobile phone ring tone. The money they spent creating the offline viral campaign was very little, so it is fair to say that not all online viral campaigns are cheaper.
Immediacy is deceptive in this area
Some say that advertising online is more immediate in that within seconds people may be seeing the adverts and reacting to the adverts, however the same is true of offline adverts. A poster on a billboard next to a highway has a high degree of immediacy, as does an advert on TV during the Super Bowl.
Again it all depends upon the medium you choose, the manner of your message, your type of message and the amount you are willing to spend on getting the message out there.
In many cases an online advertising campaign is easier to track than an offline one. This is not always the case, For example, with junk mail you may have forms that are posted back that have codes on them, or you may give different people different discount codes. But, in general it is easier to track an online campaign over an offline campaign.
This is one area where there is a difference. A person needs a device in order to get online and people who do not have that device or have no will to go online will ever see the adverts on there. The people who watch TV more than they go on their desktop computer are more likely to respond to a TV advert.
It is far easier to sell to children and technophobes via the radio, print media or TV than it is online. The crossover is not very good however, because a person who often goes on the Internet may also watch a lot of TV, listen to a lot of radio, and see print media and advertising copy across public areas. So even though the audience is divided a little, it is not an unbridgeable divide.