Advertising is a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service than competing brands or services – or if the advertising in not on behalf of a brand but for instance a public service – to change their behaviour.
Modern advertising developed with the rise of mass production in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has now developed as an essential part of influencing behaviour – across a wide spectrum of interest groups. Many advertisements are designed to generate increased consumption of those products and services through the creation and reinvention of a “brand image" . For these purposes, advertisements sometimes embed their persuasive message with factual information. Every major medium is used to deliver these messages, including television, radio, cinema, magazines, newspapers, video games, the internet, direct mail, billboards, outdoor posters and sponsorship (the list is getting longer as new media are developed).
Advertising is often placed in these media by an advertising agency acting on behalf of the client company or other organization, therefore they are acting as agents.
Organizations that frequently spend large sums of money on advertising that sells what is not, strictly speaking, a product or service include policical parties, government departments, interest groups, religious organisations, non-profit organisations and charities. However, just like brands they are competing for the consumer’s attention – if not to consume a product – to influence their behaviour. Money spent on advertising has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2007, spending on advertising has been estimated at over $150 billion (£100 bn in the United States and $385 billion worldwide (£257 bn). While there might have been a decline in the recessionary years, it is predicted that spending on advertising will exceed $450 billion (£300 bn) after 2010.
While advertising can be seen as necessary for economic growth, it is not without social costs. Unsolicited commercial email and direct mail have become prevalent.
While overall growth in the advertising industry is predicted, sectors of the industry appear to be in a mature phase with traditional media such newspaper advertising revenue falling in the US and the rise of digital media and search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
This has meant that both media owners and advertising agencies have had to take this into account and think carefully about their strategy. With the dawn of the internet came many new advertising opportunities. Popup, Flash, banner, Popunder, advergaming, and email advertisements (the last often being a form of spam) are now commonplace. Particularly since the rise of "entertaining" advertising, some people may like an advertisement enough to wish to watch it later or show a friend. In general, the advertising community has not yet made this easy, although some have used the Internet to widely distribute their ads to anyone willing to see or hear them.
Another significant trend regarding future of advertising is the growing importance of the niche market using niche or targeted ads. Also brought about by the Internet and the theory of The Long Tail, advertisers will have an increasing ability to reach specific audiences. In the past, the most efficient way to deliver a message was to blanket the largest mass market audience possible. However, usage tracking, customer profiles and the growing popularity of niche content brought about by everything from blogs to social networking sites, provide advertisers with audiences that are smaller but much better defined, leading to ads that are more relevant to viewers and more effective for companies' marketing products.
Among others, Comcast Spotlight is one such advertiser employing this method in their...
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