What is Advertising?
Persuading audiences to take action with respect to products, ideas or services.
ADVERTISING is mass media content intended to persuade audiences of readers, viewers or listeners to take action on products, services and ideas.
Giant 6x3 video screen ad display courtesy of East Texas Marketing Solutions (ETMS) where the professionals have more than 20 years combined experience in marketing, sales promotion and advertising, Target, Diversify, Enhance.
The idea is to drive consumer behavior in a particular way in regard to a product, service or concept.
Definition of advertising
There is not a single generally accepted definition of advertising.
Instead, there are several ways to define it. In summary:Advertising is the paid, impersonal, one-way marketing of persuasive information from an identified sponsor disseminated through channels of mass communication to promote the adoption of goods, services or ideas.Any mass medium can deliver advertising. Some random examples:newspapers, magazines, radio and television broadcasts, films, stage shows, websites,How is advertising different from public relations?
billboards, posters, wall paintings, town criers, human billboards, flyers, rack cards,
the back of event tickets, elastic bands on disposable diapers, bathroom stall doors,
cars, taxicabs, buses, trains, subway platforms, bus stop benches, street furniture,
airplanes, in-flight seat-back trays, overhead bins, passenger screens, skywriting,
shopping carts, stickers on fruit in supermarkets, supermarket receipts, coffee cups,
mobile phone screens, opening billboards in streaming audio and video.
One simple answer is the advertiser has full control of the message all the way to the audience while the public relations professional has control only until the message is released to media gatekeepers who make decisions about whether to pass it on to the audience and in what form.
Truck ad courtesy of Toxel
- Advertisers want to generate increased consumption of their commercial products and services.
- Advertising messages are media content paid for by sponsors.
- Sponsors finance the production of advertisements and buy space for them in print media or online, or time for them to be broadcast in radio or television programs.
- An advertisement is a paid announcement. For example, a persuasive message selling a product.
- Advertisements are placed in traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio and outdoor signs, and in new media such as websites, text messages and social media. Placing is the buying of specific space in print and online or time on the air. Placement is where the ad is positioned in a medium.
- Branding involves the frequent repetition of a product's name or image in an attempt to have the desirable qualities of that product stick in the minds of consumers.
- An Infomercial is a long television commercial of five minutes to an hour in length designed to create an immediate impulse purchase.
- An advertising agency is a service business that helps client businesses sell goods and services by producing and placing advertisements.
- A client is a customer who buys and receives services, help and advice from an advertising professional. Ad agency clients include businesses and corporations, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, government agencies and others.
- Non-commercial advertisers, such as charities, political parties, interest groups, religious organizations, governmental agencies and other non-profits, also use advertising to sell their causes and services.
- Non-profit or not-for-profit organizations are agencies, institutions or organizations that are not commercially motivated and have no interest in profit. They rely sometimes on paid advertising and most heavily on free messaging, such as a public service announcements, which are not considered to be advertising.
- Free media is persuasive information produced by advertising and public relations professionals for publicity purposes and placed in mass media at no cost to the originator. Such PR messaging is not advertising. While there may be production costs, the advertising or public relations professional and the client do not pay a fee for placement of their publicity information in media.
- An integrated media campaign combines paid advertising with free media. These also are referred to as integrated marketing communications.
- Newspaper and magazine advertising return money for space on their pages. An ad placement can cost from a few dollars for a small display ad in a newspaper up to more than $100,000 for a full page 4-color ad in a magazine. That doesn't include the cost of producing the ad.
- Radio and television advertising return money for time on their air. An ad placement can cost from a few dollars for a few seconds on the air at a local radio station up to nearly $3 million for 30 seconds in the Super Bowl telecast. That doesn't include the cost of producing the ad.
- Online advertising sells products and services at websites with banner ads, contextual ads, email marketing, spam, social networking couponing, etc. Couponing is the collection of coupons from websites to buy brand-name products at low cost. Banner ads on a website could cost $25 a month or less and up to several hundred dollars a month depending on the traffic passing through the site. Traffic is the number of visitors in a period time and the number of pages on the site they visit.
- Classified ads are small messages in newspapers, magazines and online grouped together under content listings. Generally, they are the most inexpensive way to advertise.
- In-store advertising appears beside product displays and at check-out lines to catch a shopper's eye and promote a purchase.
- Billboard advertising is outdoor advertising on large signs that can be seen at a distance.
- Global advertising refers to a worldwide advertising campaign to build a brand internationally while speaking with one voice.
- Copy is the text printed or words spoken in an advertisement. Copywriting is the creating and arranging of words for an advertisement.
- Artwork includes the Illustrations, photographs, paintings, drawings, graphs and other non-text artistic works prepared for an advertisement.
- An ad layout is a rough draft or sketch that shows the general arrangement and appearance plan for a finished advertisement.
- Slogans are memorable phrases used in advertising campaigns. The ad agency N.W. Ayer & Son coined some of the best known advertising slogans in history:
- When it rains it pours Morton Salt, 1912
- I'd walk a mile for a Camel R.J. Reynolds, 1921
- A diamond is forever De Beers, 1947
- Reach out and touch someone AT&T, 1979
- Be all you can be United States Army, 1981
Ancient times. Egyptians wrote sales messages on papyrus wall posters. Political campaign ads were on the walls of Pompeii. Rudimentary commercial advertising existed in Greece, Rome, Arabia, Asia, Africa and South America.
1949 Ford ad courtesy of The Henry Ford
The Middle Ages. Most people were unable to read, but images of clothing, shoes, horse shoes or bags of flour on signs pointed out the tailor, cobbler, blacksmith or miller.
17th century. As reading spread, advertising was printed on handbills. Advertisements promoting medicines and books were printed in weekly newspapers.
19th century Advertising grew as the relative wealth of nations expanded. Advertising developed with the rise of mass production from the late 19th century.
In 1836 in France, the newspaper La Presse printed paid advertising on its pages. Because of the money it received for advertising, the paper was able to lower the price it charged readers for a copy. That let it extend its readership which increased its profitability.
The beginnings of an advertising agency was conceived by Volney B. Palmer in Philadelphia. In 1842, he bought quantities of space in newspapers at a discounted rate, then resold the space at higher rates to advertisers. Palmer was only a space broker – the ad copy, artwork and layout were prepared by the company that had something to advertise.
The first true advertising agency was N.W. Ayer & Son in Philadelphia in 1869. Ayer planned, created and placed complete advertising campaigns for its customers.
20th century. Advertising became a profession with agencies as the focal point of creative planning.
Women were responsible for purchasing for most households, so agencies recognized their insight in the creative process. That led advertising to become a business career choice for women.
The first American advertisement to use a sexual sales appeal, created by J. Walter Thompson Co. for Woodbury Soap, depicted a couple with the message The skin you love to touch.
The top 100 advertising campaigns of all time »
Advertising arrived on the air with radio in the 1920s and the practice of sponsoring programs became popular. With the coming of television in the 1940s, the networks sold ad time on the air to sponsors.
Cable television wired the country from the 1980s and satellite TV emerged from the 1990s. They brought new advertising opportunities on the expanded number of channels.
Marketing on Internet websites opened new frontiers for advertisers from the mid-1990s.
21st century. Advertising continues in all mass media including newspapers, magazines, radio, television, billboards, classified advertising in print and online, in-store advertising and websites.
Recent emphases and innovations include:
- Viral marketing uses social networks to increase brand awareness. The technique includes creation and placement of videos, ebooks, interactive flash games, text messages, etc. If a message the marketer is picked up by a social medium, its message will be received my millions.
- Niche marketing is advertising targeted to people in specific demographic categories with specific needs and wants.
- Product placement places the brand-name of a product or service in front of an audience without a traditional advertisement. For instance, if you are watching a movie and you see a character drinking a Coke while using a Macintosh computer, rather than generic products, those are the result of product placements.
- Celebrity branding uses a celebrity to endorse a product or service. It works because people pay attention to celebrities, copying their hairstyles or their clothing styles and admiring them for what they do. Examples are George Foreman commercials in which he sells a grill or Britney Spears selling perfumes. There also are celebrity voice-overs. Some celebrities have distinct, recognizable voices which they lend through celebrity branding to a product or service.
- Email advertising is the unsolicited sending of bulk emails, sometimes called spam.
- Shock advertising disturbs the audience and offends people. It ranges beyond the usually acceptable advertisement to make a strong point. Some shocking ads have suggestive sexual content and nudity. It's intended to help people remember an ad.
- Interactive advertising uses online media to drive consumers toward products, brands, services, political groups, etc., by asking them to respond immediately on-screen to an ad.
- Embedded ads are marketing messages placed inside non-advertising products such as video games or news articles to steer readers to branded goods or services.
- Crowdsourcing outsources tasks to an undefined group of people in a community through an open call. Those people most fit to solve problems, perform tasks and contribute are gathered together to create the best solution.
- Guerrilla marketing follows unusual approaches such as staged encounters in public places, giveaways of products such as cars that are covered with brand messages, and interactive advertising where the viewer can respond to become part of the advertising message.
- Meta-advertising is advertising for another advertisement. For instance, an advertiser will advertise for viewers to watch an ad for a new product.
- Contextual advertising emphasizes contextually relevant, unobtrusive ads on a website intended to help users. This has fed the increasing trend toward interactive advertising. Many websites, including the search engine Google, present contextual ads.
- Consumer voting through text messages and other innovations of social networks such as Facebook.
Advertising Resource Center »
The largest advertising agency conglomerates in the world, known in the advertising, public relations and marketing professions as The Big Four, are Interpublic, Omnicom, Publicis and WPP.
How important is advertising?
The amount of advertising placements and the profitability of media in the United States rise and fall with the popularity of different media and the condition of the economy. Today, advertising flourishes in new media and social media while it dwindles in traditional media.
Texas chain H.E. Butt Grocery Co. uses Eva Longoria Parker for Norquest recyclable bags in a celebrity branding image courtesy Rajiv Badlani
The share of advertising spending relative to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) has changed little across large changes in media.
For example, in the U.S. in 1925, the main advertising media were newspapers, magazines, signs on streetcars and outdoor posters. Advertising spending as a share of GDP was about 2.9 percent.
By 1998, television and radio had become major advertising media. Nonetheless, advertising spending was about 2.4 percent of GDP.
In 2010, spending on advertising was estimated at more than $300 billion in the United States and $500 billion worldwide. Source: Wikpedia
What do ads look like?
Advertisements include text, audio, video, photography and graphic designs.
An effective ad has:
- Smart placement where it will be seen by your target audience.
- A compelling headline, which is the most important technical aspect of your ad. A powerful headline suggests benefits, news, how-to or something curious. Readers scan headlines. If yours doesn't grab attention, your ad won't be read.
- Eye-catching graphics are a means of getting your audience to read your ad. An attractive graphic and a strong headline will pull a reader or viewer into your ad.
- A focus on the objective with all the elements of your ad working to persuade consumers to fulfill your one main objective. Having multiple objectives will confuse people and then they will do nothing.
- An irresistible offer including valuable bonuses and risk-free, easy-pay terms. If your offer seems too good to be true, give a plausible explanation for your low price. Help purchasers reconcile your offer in their minds so it makes sense and is believable.
- A risk-free offer using testimonials and a strong guarantee. Include facts and statistics. Consumers are skeptical, so make your ad credible and risk-free.
- People don't like to be guinea pigs, so testimonials from real people are powerful. Pictures of the endorser will double the effectiveness of your testimonial.
- Provide as strong a guaranteed as absolutely possible. Remember that guarantees are exercised infrequently.
- People take comfort from positive, scientific proof, so use facts and statistics from reliable sources.
- A unique competitive advantage tells your prospects why they should do business with you. Often your unique competitive advantage is the best benefit you can offer so consider including it in your headline or prominent place in the ad.
- Selling benefits that your prospects care about. Ultimately, people want to gain pleasure or avoid pain, so tell them how your product or service will help them gain pleasure or avoid pain. They care about what your product or service will do for them personally. Studies show people respond better to the fear of loss (pain) then they do to the promise of gain (pleasure).
- Advertorial style makes your ad look like a news story, which will give it credibility. Advertorials have compelling headlines, lots of informative, interesting text, quotes and graphics. People are tired of in-your-face ads and prefer this soft sell today.
- A call to action that is explicit and clear, so your customer knows exactly what to do.
- A sense of urgency to overcome naturally laziness and procrastination. Lend a sense of scarcity so the customer will act immediately. Limit the quantity of the product available or the length of time it is available.
- A simple way to respond urges people buy on impulse rather than logic. Make it easy to do business with you. Because some people like to telephone, others like to the Internet, and others will only fax their order, it's important to offer multiple ways to be contacted.
- Accountability means don't waste your ad dollars. Track your ads to see which are pulling better than others.
Criticism of advertising
Advertising has social costs:
Unsolicited e-mail spam is a major nuisance and a financial burden on internet service providers
Advertising is invading public spaces including schools where some call it child exploitation, green vistas where pollution is an unintended consequence, and politics where some say it fosters dishonesty and ethical issues.
Advertising exerts psychological pressure on consumers, which could be harmful. For example, appealing to fear of losing loved ones or feelings of inadequacy.
Criticism of advertising - Wikipedia »
Regulation of advertising
Advertisers, advertising agencies and the media agree on a code of advertising standards that they attempt to uphold. It intends to ensure that advertisements are truthful, legal and decent.
Marlboro Man 1968 ad courtesy Smoker News World
American Marketing Association ethics code » Better Business Bureau advertising code »
List of advertising and media industry associations » American Association of Advertising Agencies »
There have been government rules intended to protect the public interest by regulating the content of advertising. For instance, the banning of tobacco advertising on television.
A guide to advertising law » An advertising regulation FAQ »
Some communities believe outdoor advertising is a blight. There have been attempts to ban billboard advertising in the open countryside. Some cities have tried to control the growth of outdoor advertising displays including signs on businesses.
There is vigorous debate on whether advertising to children should be regulated. This debate was exacerbated by a 2004 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which suggested fast food advertising to children was important in the rise of childhood obesity.
Advertising Age magazine
Advertising Age magazine »
Adweek magazine »
Marketing and advertising trade magazines
Marketing and advertising magazines list »
Resources for Courses »
© 2013 Dr. Anthony Curtis, Mass Communication Dept., University of North Carolina at Pembroke email home page