I didn’t get a chance to comment on the post at the time (and the comments are now disabled for that article), but I did have some thoughts that I thought might be worth sharing.
I agree that online-only campaigning may not be as effective as a mixed media campaign. Certainly there is only so much that can happen online, and the more channels that you can leverage to reach people where they’re at (I use these words carefully – if your target audience is mostly online, why spend money on offline activities?).
I do, however, think online campaigning is one of the most effective – in terms of cost and reach – of all the media. This is especially true if you can successfully “flip the funnel” and get other people to help you do the work.
It would be great if we could all afford magazine spreads, a solid PR strategy, TV ads etc., but all of those cost a lot of money with unclear benefits IMO – most of the time anyway. As I was saying to a colleague the other day, more traditional advertising is geared towards brand building and positioning within the market – and it’s much harder to track a direct ROI on it.
That said, I’m a big believer in integrated campaigns – especially those that combine online and offline actions. Even low-cost opportunities, such as events etc. can really help lift an online action. The Participate Online study I think demonstrates this too – people often get active around a specific event.