Advertising is how businesses get the public’s attention. In modern advertising, this takes many different forms, and businesses compete to create the most compelling, interesting and memorable ads. Consumers are surrounded by advertising, with some estimates placing advertising and branding exposure at thousands per day, per person. In 2015, the world spent an estimated US$592 billion on advertising.
What is advertising?
Advertising is an audio or visual form of marketing which uses paid messages to promote a service or product. It differs from public relations, as advertisers are required to pay for their placements, and the audience is typically fully aware that they are paid messages. Advertising is typically done through various forms of mass media, and the practice has been common for centuries. In recent years, advertising has become an interesting pop culture topic, with TV shows like Mad Men drawing attention to its history and roots.
What are the main forms of advertising?
- Newspaper advertising is one of the oldest forms of advertising and is still well used. This can be done as either display ads, which are throughout the publication, or classified listings in a specific section.
- Magazine advertising is done in more specialised publications which can reach specific demographics with a common interest.
- Radio advertising is widespread and can be done locally, nationally or internationally to reach the target market. Sound has limitations, but is fantastic for many types of business.
- Television advertising has incredible reach and versatility, though the costs can be inhibitive for small businesses.
- Directories include publications like the yellow pages and can be a viable form of small business advertising, especially locally.
- Direct advertising includes mail-outs, flyers and catalogues. These can be en masse or to specific lists or areas.
- Online advertising is cost-effective and highly versatile, with many innovative options and a data-driven, targeted approach.
Advertisers continue to innovate ways to reach customers, especially at times when they are most likely to make a purchasing decision. All forms of advertising are supported by marketing strategy and market research.
What are the goals of advertising?
Advertising achieves a number of key goals, predominantly focused around branding and customer acquisition:
- Building awareness: when a business is new or has not been doing much advertising, it can take some time to establish their presence in the marketplace. Once the public begins to become accustomed to the new business, the familiarity inspires credibility and trust, which is likely to lead to sales.
- Motivating action: advertising often includes a call to action which compels immediate action. It may be a sale which is ending soon or a unique opportunity with a time limit. This ensures that if a consumer is interested, they will not delay further.
- Acquiring customers from competitors: if a consumer does not know of a better option, they can’t choose it. By advertising their benefits over competitors, businesses can compel customers to make a rational choice about the value proposition being made. If the business offers more value or a lower price, it’s likely they will make a change.