Advertising is the paid promotion of goods, services, companies and ideas, by an identified sponsor. Marketers see advertising as part of an overall promotional strategy. Other components of the promotional mix include publicity, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion.
History of Advertising
In ancient times the most common form of advertising was by word of mouth. However, commercial messages were found in the ruins of Pompeii. As printing developed in the 15th and 16th century, the first steps towards modern advertising were taken. In the 17th century advertisements started to appear in weekly newspapers in England, and a century later advertising had become a popular thing.
As the economy was expanding during the 19th century, the need for advertising grew at the same pace. In 1843 the first advertising agency was established by Volney Palmer in Philadelphia. At first the agencies were just brokers for ad space in newspapers, but in the 20th century, advertising agencies started to take over responsibility for the content as well.
Some commercial advertising media include: billboards, printed flyers, radio, cinema and television ads, web banners, skywriting, bus stop benches, magazines, newspapers, town criers, sides of buses, taxicab doors and roof mounts, elastic bands on disposable diapers, stickers on apples in supermarkets, the opening section of streaming audio and video, and the backs of event tickets. Any place an “identified” sponsor pays to deliver their message through a medium is advertising. Covert advertising embedded in other entertainment media is known as product placement.
The TV commercial is generally considered the most effective mass-market advertising format and this is reflected by the high prices TV networks charge for commercial airtime during popular TV events. The annual US Super Bowl football game is known as much for its commercial advertisements as for the game itself, and the average cost of a single thirty-second TV spot during this game has reached $2.3 million (as of 2004).
Advertising on the World Wide Web is a recent phenomenon. Prices of Web-based advertising space are dependent on the “relevance” of the surrounding Web content. E-mail advertising is another recent phenomenon. Unsolicited E-mail advertising is known as “spam”.
Some companies have proposed to place messages or corporate logos on the side of booster rockets and the International Space Station. Controversy exists on the effectiveness of subliminal advertising (see mind control), and the pervasiveness of mass messages (see propaganda).
Unpaid advertising (also called word of mouth advertising), can provide good exposure at minimal cost. Personal recommendations (“bring a friend”, “sell it by zealot”), the unleashing of memes into the wild, or achieving the feat of equating a brand with a common noun (“Hoover” = “vacuum cleaner”) — these must provide the stuff of fantasy to the holder of an advertising budget.
The purpose of advertising is to stimulate demand for a product, service, or idea. Other factors influencing demand are price and substitutability. A major way advertising may stimulate demand is to create a brand franchise for a product. Kleenex, for example, can distinguish itself as a type of tissue. But, because it has successfully attained a brand franchise among consumers, it is frequently used as a generic term. One of the most successful firms to have achieved a brand franchise is Hoover, whose name was for a very long time synonymous with vacuum cleaner (and Dyson has subsequently managed to achieve similar status, having moved into the Hoover market with a more sophisticated model of vacuum cleaner).
A brand franchise can be established to a greater or lesser degree depending on product and market. In Texas, for example, it is common to hear people refer to anysoft drink as a Coke, regardless of whether it is actually produced by Coca-Cola or not (the more accurate term would be ‘cola’).
A legal risk of the brand franchise is that the name can become so widely accepted that it becomes a generic term, and loses trademark protection. Examples include “escalator”, “aspirin” and “mimeograph”.
Other objectives include short or long term increases in sales, market share, awareness, product information, and image improvement.
Advertisers use several recognizable techniques in order to better convince the public to buy a product. These may include:
- Repetition: Some advertisers concentrate on making sure their product is widely recognized. To that end, they simply attempt to make the name remembered through repetition.
- Bandwagon: By implying that the product is widely used, advertisers hope to convince potential buyers to “get on the bandwagon.”
- Testimonials: Advertisers often attempt to promote the superior quality of their product through the testimony of ordinary users, experts, or both. “Three out of four dentists recommend…” This approach often involves an appeal to authority.
- Pressure: By attempting to make people choose quickly and without long consideration, some advertisers hope to make rapid sales: “Buy now, before they’re all gone!”
- Association: Advertisers often attempt to associate their product with desirable things, in order to make it seem equally desirable. The use of attractive models, picturesque landscapes, and other similar imagery is common. “Buzzwords” with desired associations are also used.
- Advertising slogans
A popular belief among many segments of society is that subliminal messages are commonly used in advertising, though this is seen by experts as little more than an urban legend.