What is Advertising?

Persuading audiences to take action with respect to products, ideas or services.

Your Ad Here message on giant screens
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.
ADVERTISING is mass media content intended to persuade audiences of readers, viewers or listeners to take action on products, services and ideas.

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,
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.
How is advertising different from public relations?

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.

Some lingo
Some history

How important is advertising?

Texas grocery store H.E. Butt Grocery Co. (H-E-B) ad featuring Eva Longoria Parker and Norquest recyclable bags
Texas chain H.E. Butt Grocery Co. uses Eva Longoria Parker for Norquest recyclable bags in a celebrity branding image courtesy Rajiv Badlani
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.

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:

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

    Marlboro Man smoking ad in 1968
    Marlboro Man 1968 ad courtesy Smoker News World
    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.
    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.

    Professional periodicals

    Advertising Age magazine
    Advertising Age magazine »

    Adweek 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