Purpose - The purpose of this study is threefold: To compare many old and new media channels in terms of a range of attributes such as perceived intrusiveness, reliability, trustworthiness, convenience, and entertainment value. To compare the perceived relative effectiveness of alternative communication channels in terms of how a marketing proposition is evaluated by recipients and thus to establish whether some channels are better than others for achieving engagement and persuasion. To additionally survey the senders of marketing communications, to examine potential differences between how senders think recipients perceive each channel and what recipients actually perceive. Moreover, it is proposed that the survey be conducted in both consumer and business markets. Design/methodology/approach - First, in a survey, the channels are compared from the perspective of both receivers and senders of marketing communications and additionally from that of consumer and business markets. Second, by means of experimentally generated scenarios, the paper assesses the relative effectiveness of the 11 channels in eliciting responses to two typical B-to-C and two B-to-B promotion offers. Findings - The paper finds that, although e-mail is well established and widely used, the traditional channels of television, radio, newspapers and direct mail retain their historically favored attributes of trust and reliability of information that make them still preferred by consumer recipients of marketing communications, even by tech savvy younger consumers who use e-mail and SMS extensively. Business receivers are more accepting of e-mail marketing communications than are consumers but, like consumers, they are more likely to act on a marketing offer if it comes through traditional mass media or mail channels. Originality/value - The paper enables marketing managers to assess the relative benefits of a number of marketing communication channels.