Advertising is a paid form of persuasive communication that uses mass and interactive media to reach broad audiences in order to connect an identified sponsor with buyers (a target audience), provide information about products (goods, services, and ideas), and interpret the product features in terms of the customer’s needs and wants.
This definition has a number of elements and the definition is changing because of new technology, media shifts, and cultural changes.
•Advertising is usually paid for by the advertiser who has a product to sell, although some forms of advertising, such as public service announcements (PSAs), use donated space and time.
•Not only is the message paid for, but the sponsor is identified.
•Although advertising began as one-way communication, digital media has introduced new forms of two-way and multiple-way brand-related communication.
•Advertising generally reaches a broad audience of potential consumers, either as a mass audience or smaller targeted groups. However, direct response advertising, especially those practices that involve digital communication, has the ability to address individual members of the audience. So some advertising can deliver one-to-one communication to a large group of people.
•In traditional advertising, the message is conveyed through many different kinds of mass media, which are largely non-personal messages. This non-personal characteristic, however, is changing with the introduction of more interactive types of media. A great deal of emphasis is now placed on word-of-mouth, which is now defined as personal communication through new media forms rather than “scripted messages in a paid format,” according to agency CEO Richard Edelman.
•Most advertising has a defined strategy and seeks to inform consumers and make them aware of a brand, company, or organization. In many cases, it also tries to persuade or influence consumers to do something. Persuasion may also involve emotional messages.
Is Advertising the Only Tool in the Promotional Toolkit?
•It’s not the only tool, although it may be the biggest. In the United States, advertising is a $30 billion industry. Advertising is often seen as the driving force in marketing communication because it commands the largest budget, as well as the largest number of agencies and professionals. Tables 1.1 and 1.2 give some indication of the size and scope of the advertising industry.
•Advertising’s original purpose was to sell something, but over the years, other promotional tools with different sets of strengths have developed to help meet that objective. They include publicity or public relations, direct-response advertising, and sales promotion. These tools are also used to identify, inform, and persuade. The proper name for this bundle of tools is marketing communication (marcom), an umbrella term that refers to all forms of communication about a brand that appear in a variety of media.
•In addition to marketing communication, advertising also has a role in the functioning of the economy and society. This is illustrated in the ‘1984” commercial that launched the Apple Macintosh. As you read about this commercial in the Matter of Practice feature in this chapter, note how it demonstrated all four functions – marketing, communication, social and economic.
Marketing and Communication Roles
•In its marketing and communication roles, advertising transforms a product into a distinctive brand by creating an image and personality that goes beyond straightforward product features. As advertising showcases brands, it also creates consumer demand and makes statements that reflect social issues and trends.
Economic and Societal Roles
•Advertising flourishes in societies that enjoy economic abundance, in which supply exceeds demand. In such societies, advertising extends beyond...