How Advertising Works: What Do We Really Know?

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How does advertising work?

Advertising is a very important tool in order to make sure a product will be sold and to make sure a company is earning money. It is also one of the most important tools in order to get customers to buy a product or want a service. Ineffective advertising can not only cost the company a lot of money but it can even have a negative influence on the image customers have on a product or brand. So how to set up an effective and positive advertisement is something that has a very high priority in every business. In order to create that positive advertising campaign you need to know what the do and don’ts are and which pitfalls need to be avoided.

I consider it very important to know what advertising exactly means and what the definition of the word advertising is. Advertising is a paid form of communicating a message by the use of various media. It is persuasive, informative, and designed to influence purchasing behavior or thought patterns. The message send in those media could than be called an advertisement. (Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, 2007) Companies spread a message and that message need to be picked up by the target audience. This audience need to be researched first in order to send a message that is understood and accepted by those who the company assumes will buy the product or service. These groups or audience can be differentiated by gender, age, cultural background, religion, social status or many more examples.

We can classify the effects that advertisement has in two categories; intermediate effects and behavioural effects. Intermediate effects are summarized into consumer beliefs and attitudes. The feeling and association people have with a certain brand or product and the attitude they have towards it. Behavioural effects are coping with the behaviour of customers. This could be purchasing behaviour and brand choice. This report will cover both of the effects that could be reached by advertising. Because advertising is a way of communicating to the customer, it is very important to understand the models designed over the last centuries. These models are communication models, in this report three models will be covered to get a clear view on how advertising works.

Schramm’s original model
In 1955 Wilbur Schramm developed the basic model of mass communication, as we know and use it these days. Before 1955 several communication experts, such as Shannon & Wever, claimed that communication was only a one-way street. A message was going from point A to B and that is where it stops. A is the sender; this sender sends a message which goes to B, the receiver. There were no distinctions made whether the receiver understood or accepted the message and therefore the sender could not be sure whether the sending of the message was effective and reached the objected goal. (see figure 1.1) Schramm said that every receiver interprets a message differently and therefore it is extremely important that the sender receives feedback in order to make sure the message is received, understood and accepted. According to the model (figure 1.2) the message is made up into a format; the message is encoded. This format can be speech or print for example by using (a combination) of appropriate words, pictures, music, symbols etc. The message is send to the receiver by a medium; newspaper, tv, radio etc. The message reaches the receiver and the receiver will decode the message into its own understanding. This is where it is of high importance that the source and the receiver understand each other. Because the receiver’s field of perception affects the decoding, the message will be understood better and clearer if the perceptions, experiences, attitudes and values of the sender and receiver overlap as much as possible. (Egan, 2007) It is not for no reason that marketing departments ask for “people with a feeling for the product” and therefore empathy with the target audience. A young,...
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