The State of Traditional Media in Detroit Today (2021)

Quick Read

Traditional media is where advertising first began. Before the internet and social media, the way someone would hear about your businesses was typically from an ad in the newspaper or they would hear it on the radio. Today, digital media has taken over in many aspects, but it is important to not look over your traditional marketing strategies to fully succeed as a business, especially if you need to build a brand.

Traditional media is divided in to four main categories:

  • Television
  • Print
  • Outdoor
  • Radio

There are strengths and weaknesses for all of these so it is important to understand which type of media is best for your business as each business will need a different marketing strategy to reach their target audience.

Traditional Media vs. Digital Media

As digital marketing becomes more prevalent, it brings up the debate of whether traditional media is still beneficial to implement in your marketing strategies. Though digital media has certainly gained more traction over the years and seems to be reaching consumers more, this is not necessarily always the case.

First, it is important to distinguish between the two medias. Traditional media is what most people think of when it comes to advertising. This includes, television, print, outdoor, and radio. Especially considering print, traditional marketing has been around since the beginning. Digital media, however, is newer, having been developed because of the internet. This media includes things like social media, emails, content marketing and search engine optimization, or SEO.

What we are seeing is that consumers in 2021 are using both marketing channels equally. The behavior is being coined as the “second screening” effect. Someone who is watching TV these days, is most likely also scrolling on their phone, or some may read the newspaper and research about the topic more online after. This behavior is important to consider and shows that traditional media still plays a key role in marketing tactics.


Television ads are somewhat costly but are of benefit the most when you are trying to reach a broad but targeted audience over any other type of media. The outreach that TV has is one of the reasons it still plays a huge factor in many businesses’ marketing techniques.

In the United States, television ranks as the second most profitable advertising medium behind the internet. In total, it accounts for roughly 25% of total U.S. media ad revenue.

Broadcast: Broadcast is the most common form of TV in the United States. These channels use public airwaves so it is available to any TV that can access a broadcast transmitter.

The biggest advantage this type of medium has is its outreach. Broadcast TV has one of the largest national outreaches which allows you to target bigger shares of your target audience. Another plus is with so many people watching you have a higher chance to gain brand recognition. A disadvantage of this medium is the cost. TV commercials have a high production cost on top of the cost of placing a buy for a TV spot.

In 2021, the average cost in the Metro Detroit area for a :30 second spot can average around $600-$2,500 in non-prime day parts.

Cable: Cable TV differs from broadcast in that it allows you to target a local audience. When you place an ad for cable it is being advertised to those in your selected area.

This medium is a great option for small businesses who only want to target their local market. Another advantage is that cable TV ads are going to be cheaper overall if you want to target a specific area than broadcast ads. If you are a larger company looking to target more than one area though, a smaller, more narrow audience may not be ideal.

In 2021, the average cost in the Metro Detroit area can be as little as $50 per spot.

OTT: OTT or “Over the Top” is TV content that is provided by high-speed internet rather than cable or satellite. This can include streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max. There are more than 140 discounts available to Detroit advertisers.

This form of advertising can help you to target those under 30 who typically choose these types of services over broadcast or cable, which can be a big pro for many businesses. Costs for OTT are also typically lower than if you were to go with traditional TV marketing. The biggest issue people run into with OTT advertising is not being able to track engagement or how well your ad is doing.

In 2021, the average cost for an ad on OTT can be around $25-$40 CPM. CPM stand for cost per 1,000 impressions.


Print ads are one of the oldest forms of advertising which has stood the test of time, and for good reason. Newspaper, magazines and direct mail allows you to target a wide age of range groups and proves to be effective in at least getting recognition for your brand, as well as a strong and immediate call to action.

Newspaper: Newspaper ads are one of the most basic options in traditional media.

Many still choose to utilize newspaper ads because it can give you reach to a local audience and in some cases a particular group with certain interests depending on the newspaper. In newspapers, you can also go into greater details about your product or service which is another advantage. People choose not to buy ads in the newspaper a lot of times though because of the quality of the ad when printed and typically only reaching an older audience.

In 2021, the average cost for a newspaper ad in the Detroit Free Press is around $727.

Magazines: Magazines are similar to newspapers but provide their own unique benefits that newspapers cannot provide.

Magazine allow you to target markets with specific interests from fashion to gardening to golf. Since most magazines print in color also, your ad will have higher production than a newspaper. One disadvantage though, is that magazines typically have a long lead time so you may not be able to advertise limited sales or marketing campaigns.

In 2021, the average cost for a magazine ad in Hour Detroit can average $4,930 for a full page ad.

Direct Mail: Direct mail includes a multitude of things such as: postcards, marriage mail, inserts and anything you get in the mail that is advertising a product or business.

According to Inkit, 90% of direct mail gets opened compared to 20-30% with emails. For brand recognition and getting your message across, direct mail is more effective than email marketing. On the other hand, some may just find direct mail as junk mail and simply throw it out without even opening it.

In 2021, the average cost in the Metro Detroit area for direct mail is around $1 per piece but can be lower depending on factors like type of cardstock, printing, and volume discounts.


Outdoor includes any type of advertisement you may see when you are outside or driving in your car. Things like billboards and transit advertisements will always be relevant as long as people have places to go. Choosing to use this type of advertising in the area you are trying to market to can have its benefits.

Billboards: Billboards are the large advertisements that you see on the side of the highway and can give you a high reach and frequency of people seeing your ad.

A billboard is great for advertising to a lot of people since there is a constant flow of people driving by. Also, since your ad is large, it is hard for people to ignore. Since it is on the side of the road though, your message has to be short.

In 2021, the average cost for a billboard in the Metro Detroit area can cost anywhere from $300-$5,000 depending on the size, typically about $4,000 per week for CBA.

Transit: These are the ads that you see wrapped on the sides of buses or cars and can lead to high exposure from drivers on the road.

As mentioned, transit advertising allows you to have high exposure since it is constantly being shown to drivers on the road. This also has a relatively low cost and give you the opportunity for colorful, creative advertisements. Some disadvantages with this though, similar to billboards, is that your message must be short, and you cannot guarantee what audience will see your ad.

In 2021, the average cost to advertise on a bus in the metro Detroit area ranges from $306-over $150,000 depending on how long the ad will run and how large the ad is.

Bus Shelters: Ads on bus shelters gives you the ability to be seen by both those waiting for the bus and those passing by.

These types of ads also give you a large frequency from both those waiting and those walking by. Since you have people who are waiting, this also allows you to write longer message that you may not be able to with other mediums. If the area you would like to advertise does not utilize a lot of public transport though, this may not be a viable option for you.

In 2021, the average cost for a bus shelter in the Metro Detroit area can be anywhere from $241-$21,012 depending on how long you would like the ad to be up and how big it is.

Airport: These ads can be anything from banners to lighted plastic signs all seen throughout airports.

Again a big advantage of this comes down to high frequency and reach, as with most outdoor advertising. Here, you can reach a broad audience. Looking at the current state of flying in 2021 though, we have seen a huge drop in those flying since there are many restrictions that have been put in place from the pandemic which could be a disadvantage.

In 2021, the average cost in most airports for a Backlit Diorama in gate/terminal and baggage claim can range from $3,500-$9,900 per display for a 4-week period.


AM and FM radio in 2021 may be seen as not a great marketing channel, in some cases this may be true, but it really depends on who you are trying to reach. This form of advertising targets more of an older audience, but many still choose traditional radio over streaming platforms like Pandora or Spotify.

Many choose to advertise through radio still because it is a relatively cheap media to utilize compared to others. The production cost for this is also much lower since it only requires a script, and many times is read by a radio show host. A disadvantage for radio would be the lack of visuals and you can’t really go into detail about what you are trying to convey.

In 2021, the average cost for a radio spot in the Metro Detroit area can range from as little as $25 during off hours to $750 or more for peak hours for a :60 second ad.

Our Recommendations

If you are trying to devise a marketing plan for your business you need to establish who you are trying to reach and decide which mediums are going to be best for the biggest outreach and return on investment (ROI). Using traditional media as a channel to bring people to your social media, website, and digital media can optimize your reach. So you would preferably want to use both digital marketing and traditional marketing in your media plan.

Overall, more people tend to trust in traditional ads over digital since anyone can post digital campaigns. Traditional can establish brand recognition and trust in your brand. Some traditional media also still has a higher ROI than digital, so it is important to take a look at what will reap the most benefits for your business.