What is Advertising? Definition, History, Objectives, Techniques
Every business makes use of some form of advertising to attract customers. Advertising is an ever-present force in today’s world even though people may not be aware of its presence.
There is hardly any media that cannot be used to do some form of advertising. Check the television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet, billboard, clothes, posters, and you will see different types of advertising present.
Although advertising is by no means a new concept in the business space, many companies and advertisers do not have a wholesome understanding of the concept. In this article, you will learn about the types, history, benefits, and biggest trends in advertising.
Let’s get started.
What is Advertising?
Advertising is a marketing strategy that involves sending publicly sponsored, broadcast messages to a large audience in a bid to promote/sell a product or offer some services. It is a form of communication intended to create awareness about a brand and what it has to offer.
As similar as it looks, advertising is quite different from public relations in that the advertising committee has full control over the message sent to the public. Also, unlike personal selling, advertising is not directed to a particular individual.
One efficient way of advertising is through the mass media which includes magazines, newsletters, radio, and television. You can also advertise through direct emails. Other modern means of advertising are through online blogs, social media platforms, websites, or text messages.
Why Businesses Use Advertising
Advertising is the sure channel for proper delivery of a message to your target audience to get updated about what you have to offer. Advertisements are meant for your existing customers and prospective leads, to retain the former and gain the latter.
Businesses use advertising for different purposes and here are some of them.
1. To Reach Out to a Larger Audience
No matter how far your products and services have gone, there are still lots of people who have not heard of it. The more you upscale your advertising, the more the people that hear about it. Advertising is usually underrated because brand owners feel people are usually uninterested in what they have to offer, especially when they have an alternative product they use. But it takes one person to hear about your product and like it which will prompt them to refer your product to their loved ones.
So many people are using some products today because they have someone close to them who referred them to the products/services, that is how efficient advertising can be. Effective and efficient advertising can increase your return on investment (ROI).
2. To Remind People of the Efficiency of Your Products/Services
As funny as it might sound, some people need constant reminders on how good a product is before they can be compelled to use it. Also, constant reminders reassure your existing customers that they are using the best products. That way, you are enhancing your brand's image in public and sensitizing the masses that your products will find a solution to their needs.
Some customers buy products and neglect the manual that comes with them, thereby not discovering the full potential of the products. Your advertisements can educate them on the full functions of your products.
3. To Announce New Updates on Your Products/Services
Businesses also use advertisements to announce new updates for products and new programs for services. While the PR team works on the advertisement that goes out to the public, the development team presses further to improve the efficiency of their products and services.
So when the updates are available, the advertising team goes out to meet people and tell them about it either electronically or manually. Oftentimes, new and constant updates can be the reason why a prospective customer decides to patronize your brand. To them, the urge to always improve on your services shows how serious you are in catering to the needs of your target audience.
As an add-on, advertisements help you to secure new customers and retain existing customers, thereby increasing your customer lifetime value (CLV).
Types of Advertising
1. Print Advertising
Print advertising is a form of marketing strategy that involves the use of printed sheets like magazines, newspapers, etc. to create more awareness about your brand. It is the use of physically printed media to reach out to people on a larger scale.
For this type of adverts, contents are printed in hard copies in different forms of publications like brochures, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, bulletins, journals, etc.
Up till now, printed mediums still gain large reception because it is the favorite medium for some target audiences. These audiences like getting their information from physically printed media. Printed mediums cover a large percentage of recent information as there are mediums that give general updates while some have specific targets like fashion, sports, and more.
Under print advertising, there are two forms: display advertising and classified advertising.
- Display advertising is marketing with design elements and they are sold by size.
- Classified advertising is marketing without design elements but with words or lines instead. Classified ads are often used by private establishments and they are relatively smaller than display ads.
Advantages of Print Advertising
- You can always utilize flashy colors in your magazines to capture the attention of readers.
- Easier medium to spread to local geographical areas and places lacking access to the digital medium.
- Print mediums have die-hard followers who wake up every new day expecting fresh news from the distributor.
- You can manage your budget and expenses by selecting the small space you want to use in a print medium.
Disadvantages of Print Advertising
- Print mediums are not the best medium for you to reach a global audience. The Internet is a better option here.
- Marketing your brand on a printed medium requires careful planning and time. You need to take your time to strategize or else you will not achieve your marketing goals.
- Your newspapers might not reach your targeted audience all the time and you have to deal with that.
- People tend to discard or misplace newspapers and magazines after skimming through which can make them miss out on important updates, most especially your ads.
Best Print Advertisement Examples
Kentucky Fried Chicken: FCK
Lime by Volskwagen
2. TV Advertisement
Since the invention of television in the late 1900s, advertisements on TVs have been one of the most expensive types. Different network channels charge incredibly high amounts for brands to advertise during commercial breaks between the airtime of popular events.
The Super Bowl event in the United States is one of the most-watched on television and brands make use of this opportunity to air their products for the whole world to see.
This event records over 150 million viewers every year and some people happily look forward to the products displayed on-air during commercial breaks. Some years back, the organizers of the event charged about $4 million for 60-second airtime.
There are two main forms of TV advertisements, they are virtual advertisements and infomercials.
- Virtual Advertisements: Businesses can insert them into programming with the use of computerized graphics. They are physical billboards because brands find it easier to communicate with remote target audiences. In televised sport or commercial events, virtual billboards can be inserted in a space where there is no physical billboard.
- Infomercial: Another type of TV advertisement is the infomercial. It is a combination of ‘information and commercial'. Infomercials are the long-form of a TV commercial that takes about five minutes or even longer. The main aim of an infomercial is to sensitize your audience about your brand and also cause them to take action simultaneously providing the toll-free numbers to call to make purchases. Infomercials are commonly used by beauty and skin-care brands. After telling you the function of the product, they will display some numbers for you to contact immediately and order yours. Also, they share their online testimonials for people to see.
Advantages of TV Advertisement
- Captures the attention of viewers 90% of the time
- Combines both audio and visuals which aid in better understanding
- TV Ads reach large audiences
- Commands different emotions such as happiness and curiosity
Disadvantages of TV Advertisement
- Production involves a lot of effort and time
- The cost of airing your commercials are quite expensive in most networking channels
- Editing your ad due to a change or new update is difficult and costly
- You need consistent airtime before you can convert lots of customers
Best TV Advertisement Examples
Apple – “1984” Super Bowl Commercial
Samsung – Grad Pool Party
Wendy’s – “Where’s the Beef?”
3. Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is a type of advertising that involves media platforms, and the internet at large. It is a form of promotion done on the internet by using the world wide web (www) to market your brand and attract your target audiences.
Ads servers deliver different adverts from time to time and examples of digital ads are the ones that appear on web pages, banner ads, social media, emails, and different advertising networks.
- Social Media Ads: There are sponsorship ads on social media like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more. While scrolling through these apps, you come across some marketing messages that might include visuals, telling you about a product/service that you might need. Some of these ads are not intrusive while some pop up on your screen unannounced and disrupt your navigation. Podcasters also run ads on social media where they share links and tell you to listen, share your opinions, and leave a rating.
- YouTube Ads: YouTube is another social media where businesses run ads for their brands. Before you can watch a video on YouTube, 5-10 seconds of ads pop up which the app compels you to watch if you want to progress to watch the video you clicked. Some people have gotten some of the products they currently use from these ads. Although it can be annoying to be forced to watch something you do not want, it is a form of marketing that works for businesses.
- Native Ads: This is a newer form of digital ads and it improves user experience on websites by being less meddlesome.
- Email marketing: Email marketing is another form of digital advertising where individuals and businesses share links for you to subscribe to their emailing list while they drop any updates concerning their products/services.
Other types of digital advertising are referral marketing, SEO, affiliate marketing, and more.
Advantages of Digital Marketing
- A medium that allows effective reach to global target audiences
- There are numerous customers for every type of business
- Easily get opinions about your service directly from their online reviews and recommendations
- Track results and feedbacks from target audiences
Disadvantages of Digital Marketing
- Little mistakes can cost you losing lots of customers
- A complicated form of advertising because you have competitors and you need to do extra work to rank higher in search results
- Rival businesses are extremely many
Best Digital Marketing Examples
Volkswagen’s The No Show Room
Apple’s Pandemic-Era Work-from-Home Thing
4. SMS Marketing
SMS marketing is the art of advertising yourself and your brand through text messages. It is either you are trying to reach out to a larger audience or you are updating your existing customers on necessary updates.
Businesses use SMS to notify their customers about special offers and promotional campaigns that are time-sensitive and available for exclusive people. Other things that can be communicated are time-bound offers, flash sales, alerts, coupons for purchases.
SMS marketing is a common type of advertising and there are ways in which businesses should go about it to achieve the expected results.
- Request Permission: You need to request permission from your target audiences, that is you need to inform them of your intentions before you start buzzing their phone with messages. Only expected messages are happily received and checked.
- Draw the Plan: After permission has been granted, the next thing is to monitor the timing of your messages, that is draw a plan on what time you will send the broadcast. The timing is very important because you need to know the time a large percentage of your target audience opens their inbox to check urgent messages.
- Brand ID: Add your brand ID for your audiences to know who the message is coming from. Be consistent with your broadcast and improve on your response time whenever you send messages that involve replies from you.
SMS marketing is very effective because lots of people now use smartphones and they also spend hours doing one or two on their phones. It is a form of advertising that serves as an alternative for internet-connected mediums. You can run ads on SMS without using cellular data or Wi-Fi and that makes it a universal medium of marketing.
Advantages of SMS Marketing
- High open, clicks, and conversion rate
- Relatively more effective than email marketing
- Easy accessibility to customers
- Mobile-friendly option
- Quick responses
Disadvantages of SMS Marketing
- Character limit when collating messages
- Restricted contents
- People's swiftness in sending three or four digit-code messages to the trash.
Best SMS Marketing Examples
5. Digital Signage
Digital signage, also known as electronic signage or e-signage, is the virtual replacement for physical billboards. It involves the use of projections, LED, electronic papers, LCD, and more to display images, videos, eatery menus, web pages, daily forecast data, and targeted texts.
You can find digital signage in places like stadiums, museums, hotels, large retail stores, restaurants, supermarts, mega malls, transport systems, and public places. Individuals and brands use them for outdoor advertising, marketing, and exhibitions.
They are also called electronic displays because they are centrally controlled and easily accessible for the display of a brand's image through texts, static and dynamic visuals, and animations to the target audiences. There are different ways people use digital signage depending on the location.
Here are some of the places that digital signage is common and their functions:
- Shopping Malls: The major uses of digital signage in shopping malls and supermarkets are to indicate direction and to differentiate sections of items. Interactive displays help people who go shopping to quickly get to the section they want to purchase their favorite brands. If you are a first-timer in a mall, you need these displays to find your way real quick. Also, signage in malls interacts with customers on urgent information. It might be to evacuate the premises or to take note of a sudden change in display.
- Restaurants: In eateries and local restaurants, digital signage is primarily used to display a general welcome greeting to visitors and to display the various prices of the delicacies they have. So if you come into a restaurant, you do not have to request the price of what you want, all you need to do is to make your order. If the price of a full meal has changed, the display will notify the customers. Also, if there are time-bound offers, customers will read them clearly on displays.
Advantages of Digital Signage
- Cost effective
- A flexible means of advertising as you can easily change ads in your digital signage software
- You do not need a large space to erect
- More appealing to the modern-day culture
Disadvantages of Digital Signage
- Requires the hands of an expert for control and management
- Often costly to install
Best Digital Signage Examples
Coca Cola’s Digital Sign Board
The Dubai Aquarium Video Wall
Microsoft’s Digital Signage Video Wall, New York
6. Mobile Advertising
Mobile advertising is another form of advertising that is on the rise globally. It is the use of mobile gadgets like smartphones, iPads, and tablets to market your brand to your online target audiences.
This form of advertisement can be either through text ads via SMS or post ads via social media platforms. It can also be in the form of virtual banners on websites. In some developed countries, app installation ads generate some percent of advertising revenue.
You can also market your business with your mobiles using the Demand Side Platform where you buy impressions on an Ad exchange. Mobile advertising might be misinterpreted as online advertising but its reach is far higher than that of online advertising.
On mobiles, business marketers use SMS, MMS, and other online channels to advertise themselves.
There are different types of mobile ads:
- Click-to-call Ads: For this type of ad, clicking the button dials a number, often toll-free numbers directly.
- Click-to-message Ads: clicking the expected button redirects you to an SMS application to text the marketer or the person in charge.
- Click-to-download Ads: this type of ad redirects you to Google Play Store, Apple Store, or Xbox store depending on the OS version of your mobile phone.
Advantages of Mobile Advertising
- Reaches lots of people any time of the day
- Very effective even with minimal contents
- Allows for immediate response or re-directory to action pages
- The data is easily shareable across different media
Disadvantages of Mobile Advertising
- You are susceptible to online hate remarks from people.
- You need to avoid errors in sharing messages because the whole world sees it once you publish.
- Wrong assumptions about your brand can be made when you don't communicate clearly.
Best Mobile Advertising Examples
Piece of the Pie Rewards – Domino’s
Burn That Ad – Burger King
The Protection Ad – Nivea Sun
7. Radio Advertising
Radio adverts are done when a broadcast is made in radio stations and it is aired through the transmission of radio waves from the transmitter to the antenna, and finally to the recipient's device. Just like TV commercials, airtime is bought at different radio stations to air your adverts.
The frequency at which your ads will be aired depends on the amount of airtime you bought. Although radio is restricted to sound (no visuals), businesses that use this medium find it as an effective advertising medium for fast-business growth.
Radio can be found on air, and even online. Apart from physical radio devices, radio applications are found on mobile phones and tablets. So if you do not have a radio, you can still tune in to your favorite station wherever you are, either in transit or at work.
Also, some large malls air radio programs within the building and shoppers can catch one or two adverts that promote what they have been looking for online. Fueling stations also do the same and both motorists and commuters enjoy it.
Research has it that radio garners about 240 million monthly listeners in the US, i.e. more than 90% of the country's population. When television came around, people thought the restriction in radio advertising would scrap the device but the fact is that radio still has favorite listeners. The money paid for airtime is relatively cheaper than for TV commercials.
Advantages of Radio Advertising
- It is cost-efficient
- You can picture the image of what you hear on air
- It is a flexible means of marketing
- Wide reach
Disadvantages of Radio Advertising
- No visual airtime
- Difficult to retain customer's attention
- Frequency issues
Best Radio Advertising Examples
Geico Radio Computer Virus Ad Campaign
Pizza Hut- World Cup Ad Campaign
The Earphone Bully Campaign
8. Product Placements
Covert advertising is a subset of product placements where a product of a brand or the brand itself is marketed in an entertainment show, a movie, or a TV series. Some movie fanatics develop an interest in one actor/actress in every movie they watch. This actor/actress will somehow influence their lifestyle to the extent where they purchase the same set of a fashion brand as the celebrity.
Brand owners use this opportunity to request movie directors to dress their lead role characters with their products. There have been cases of designer brands making record sales after their brand product was used by a lead role character in an anticipated movie.
A very good example is the American action-oriented media franchise titled “Fast and Furious.” Different cars used in the movie suddenly became the favorites of the movie fans probably because the cars were driven by their favorite character.
Examples of brands that have been used in blockbuster movies are Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce, Adidas, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, and more. Another real-life instance is Will Smith, a popular actor, and producer, constantly referring to his Converse sneakers in a science-fiction movie titled “I, Robot.”
Advantages of Product Placements
- Allows for content creation
- Increases profit margins for movie producers/directors
- Increases the reach for brands that have not gone global.
- Makes movies interesting when people can relate to their favorite brands.
Disadvantages of Product Placements
- Can render the plot of the movie unrelatable
- Movies that promote brands are always costly
- Creates rivalry between competitive brands
Best Product Placement Examples
McDonald’s – Mac And Me
Krispy Kreme – Power Rangers
Heineken – James Bond
Nike – Back to the Future
9. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a common type of advertising that is growing bigger each day. We have people that feed on influencing, that is. They spend their days and nights marketing different products for brand owners.
An influencer's income is always tied to the internet because that is where he or she promotes other people's products. This form of advertising has proven to be one of the best ways to advertise your business. People fall in love with brands just because of the pure love they have for the brand PR manager.
There are two types of influencers: micro-influencers and macro-influencers. The different types of influencers depend on their ‘following' on different media accounts and the influence they have on people's thoughts and references.
Micro-influencers usually have between 200k-700k followers while macro-influencers have 800k to millions of followers.
Influencing is also at different stages; some people influence mainly for local brands while some others do international. Influencer marketing is a hot cake at the moment because influencers earn a lot from it. Macro-influencers earn more than micro-influencers because of the further reach they have due to their large following.
The universal use of the internet and the current use of social media make influencer marketing very effective. Celebrity endorsement is also similar to influencer marketing. In this case, online celebrities help brands endorse their products.
Examples of the best influencer marketing platforms for brands and influencers include AspireIQ, Upfluence, Traackr, CreatorIQ, and Heepsy.
Advantages of Influencer Marketing
- Freedom to choose influencers based on marketing budget
- Ability to leverage the influence people have on online fans
- A way of gaining credibility from customers
- Expands your reach
Disadvantages of Influencer Marketing
- Cases of choosing the wrong influencers to work with
- Uncertainty of results
- Not being able to afford macro-influencers who can effectively market your products
Best Influencer Marketing Examples
Baggit – #PlayTheLifeGame
Stella Artois – #1Chalice5Years
10. Cinema Advertisement
Cinema advertising is another common form of advertising where businesses have the opportunity to pass their message to a large seated and focused audience during a commercial break between the airing of their favorite movie.
This form of advertising helps businesses to display their ads on a large screen and with the help of loud sound systems. In cinema advertising, your message is gotten by hundreds of people at once unlike when you hit the streets approaching each person one after the other.
Cinema advertising is always entertaining because it is interactive and it does not compete with other ads, unlike YouTube ads. You can easily capture your audience's attention when using cinemas to market your brand. It is proven that cinema advertising has one of the highest engagement rates due to attention grabbed from multiple consumers at the same time.
However, cinema advertising experienced a downside in the pandemic era. The pandemic caused outdoor places like cinemas and film houses to be temporarily shut. In the year 2020, business owners had to employ other means of advertising pending the time that cinemas will be open once again for people to come and watch their favorite movie.
The temporal shutdown reduced the revenue gotten from cinema advertising. Fortunately, the pandemic has reduced its spread and cinemas can now open although with health-related safety precautions. Blockbuster movies are premiering in cinemas again which is good news for brands who use this type of advertising.
Advantages of Cinema Advertising
- Less competition and more airtime
- Ability to grab the attention of focused audiences
- Effective impact due to large display and audible sound
- Ability to reach out to multiple persons at once
Disadvantages of Cinema Advertising
- Costly form of advertising
- Cases of indifference from the audience
- Limited reach compared to mobile or internet advertising
Best Cinema Advertising Examples
Sony Bravia ‘Balls’
Diet Coke ‘Break’
The History of Advertising and Advertisements
The history of advertising and advertisements is as old and rich as human civilization. Advertising and advertisements have changed and evolved over the years from their beginnings where physical ads ruled to today’s era when virtual ads rule.
Some countries in the African continent used papyrus to design posters and sales messages. They use it to pass a message across to a large number of people at the same time. Rocks and wall paintings were another common means of commercial advertising then. Even till now, some countries in Asia and South America still adopt that method of advertising.
In China, the most primitive type of advertising is the oral one, where people use wind instruments like bamboo flutes to sell basic needs. The use of calligraphic boards and inked sheets were common then. If you have seen ancient Asian movies, you will notice the rampant use of calligraphic signboards to pass messages.
In European cities and towns, a large percentage of the population could not read so instead of writing the services they offer, they replace them with images. For example, a cobbler can display the image of a boot; a blacksmith can use the image of a diamond, etc.
Later on, in the 18th century, advertisements were shown in England's weekly newspapers. These types of advertisements were used to promote books and journals. Printing presses started operating and print advertisements became affordable.
Print advertisements and campaigns became more prominent in the 19th century. People were able to develop strong brand images to create a sense of belonging in the market industry.
Grocery products started branding their products and they saw a great rise in reception from target audiences. Advertisements caused global reach for some confectionery brands and they made sales in over 150 countries.
Advertising continued increasing across different countries like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and more. The supply of products increased by a significant percentage due to the global need from consumers.
Later on, businesses were able to trigger certain emotions from audiences with the content they put out. That is, advertisements can fuel your desire to buy a product or request a service.
At some point in the 20th century, advertising became one of the major career fields for women. Businesses use the leverage of their personality to showcase the efficiency of products like skincare kits, soaps, and hair care, and it turned out well.
Radios were introduced in the 1920s, commercial TVs came in the 1950s while cable TVs came in the 1980s. The internet was introduced in the 1990s.
Now, businesses have utilized the invention of radios, TVs, and the internet to globalize their market and increase their product reach. When they upgrade their products, they upgrade their marketing and advertising skills to capture the minds of their intended target audience.
AI-programmed advertising is already here and people do not have to do a lot manually before advertising their brands. Subsequent years will bring us improved advertising means.
Biggest Advertising Trends
1. Mobile Advertising
Mobile advertising is a type of advertising where brand owners and establishments use mobile gadgets to promote their products and services. It is gradually becoming a trendy form of advertisement in recent years.
This type of advertising became even more popular in recent times thanks to COVID-19 when people had no option than to remain indoors for a long time. In the quest for earning a living, businesses began using mobile advertising more to reach their customers.
Mobile advertising is advantageous for brands because people usually stay glued to their phones most hours of the day. Knowing this, businesses bring their brands to people's screens. With this new trend, there are chances this type of advertising will become people's first choice in subsequent years.
Social media platforms have amazing features that help you to advertise your products. People post pictures and short videos of their products on Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. When done right, businesses can amass large numbers of views from fans and random online viewers.
Some applications also have filters and editing tools to assist in beautifying your post and passing your message across very well.
Alds that pop up when you are playing your favorite mobile game or watching a video is getting bigger. You are compelled to watch the ads if you still want to keep on enjoying your game or video and in that way, you see the products and services that you might need.
2. Custom Advertising
This is a type of advertising where you customize ads to communicate to specific target audiences. It is also called personalized advertising because you are sending a customized ad to a particular person.
In recent years, brands that offer multiple services have been emerging and it has been difficult to post a general ad because your target audiences do not require the same services from you.
However, with the help of custom advertising, brands have been able to design customized ads based on the needs of their target audiences. Customers find personalized marketing more attractive than generic ones.
3. AI-programmed Advertising
Advertising with the help of AI programs has become one of the biggest advertising trends. Technology becomes more incredible every year and people are going for options that automate virtually all life processes.
The tech space has been able to design AI programs that automate ads purchases and it allows brand owners to direct their Ads to specific target audiences. Also, the number of channels used to promote products and services increases every day. Even social media applications have started updating their app's user interface to help businesses in brand promotion.
The increase in the number of marketing channels makes it difficult for businesses to manage ads. Automatic AI programs fill up the space of manual ads management. Ads have become easy to manage because of scheduled time and targeting signals.