Introduction to Mass Media/Advertising

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  1. Introduction
  2. History and the busness of advertising
  3. Target audience
  4. Planning and creating ads
  5. Communication
  6. Collaboration with other branches


Advertising is a form of communicating information, in persuasive purposes for products (goods, services and ideas) by acknowledged sponsors through numerous media. Albert Lasker, defined advertising as “salesmanship in print, driven by a reason why.” (1) Advertising is directly related to the groups of people, rather than to individuals and therefore, it is a non-personal or mass communication. Those individuals could be consumers, people who buy products or business people who would buy large quantities of products for resale in their stores. Mass communication in advertising is very important, because the whole purpose of advertising would be getting the message across to those who will purchase goods, to consumers. Advertising also helps in promoting services and ideas. In terms of the channel of communication, its purpose is to be a medium. An advertising medium is any non-personal means used to present an ad to its target audience. For example, we have radio advertising, television advertising, newspaper ads, and more. Advertising is just one type of marketing communications. Marketing communications are the various efforts and tools used to communicate with customers and prospects, including solicitation letters, newspaper ads, event sponsorship, publicity, telemarketing and many more. (2) Marketing is one of the important aspects of advertising. Marketing is an organizational function, a set of processes in which the value is created, communicated and delivered to customers, and for handling customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its shareholders. Marketing communications are various efforts and tools used to communicate with customers. They are very important for maintaining the relationship with the customers. (3) What connects advertising and marketing are 4Ps of marketing mix: Products, Pricing, Places and Promotion. The final goal of marketing is to earn a profit for the firm by consummating the exchange of products or services with those customers who need or want them. Moreover, the role of advertising is to promote - to inform, persuade, and remind groups of customers, or markets, about the need-satisfying value of the company’s goods and services. (4)

History and the business of advertising

Brief history

The history of advertising reaches to the preindustrial age. Preindustrial age indicates the beginning period of written history and approximately the start of the nineteenth century. Up to the industrial revolution, advertising and production remained primarily a local phenomenon. Items such as land, slaves, and transport (goods and services) were the one who were promoted. (5) Later, after the invention of the paper and the Gutenberg’s printing press, advertising started to develop and it became more popular. People no longer had to rely on their memories, and they had posters, handbills, and signs to remember them about certain product or service. The Industrializing age, which lasted by the end of the World War I, improved the advertising with the great social and economic changes. Specifically, Industrial Revolution provided the need and means for mass, non-local marketing, which turn led to mass advertising. People left subsistence farming and moved to the towns and the factories. (6) Mass printing eventually led to developing newspapers, which favored advertising, because now advertisers had more room to put their offers and promotions, which also favored their business. The industrial age was significant by changing the focus from the production aspect, as indicated in Industrializing age. Industrial age was a period from the end of the World War I, until the 1970s. The importance of this period in the history lays in the fact that products were branded and the promotion was greatly emphasized. Some of the products that were extremely popular were Coca-Cola, Jell-O, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, and Campbell’s soup (7). Furthermore, newspapers were not the only source where people could advertise goods and services, advertising became popular on the radio as well. Radio had a great role in promotion, because radio stations had the specific program that included advertising, so that people could know when to tune in for the program. Television also played an important role, because after the World War II, advertising grew rapidly and television reached its position as the largest advertising medium in terms of profits. As the time went by and the products became more appealing due to the promotion and the design they had, advertising emphasis shifted from the product features to brand image or personality. For example, Cadillac became the worldwide image of luxury, the consummate symbol of success (8). Beginning of the 1980 marked the postindustrial age in which demarketing became popular. Demarketing is a term coined during the energy shortage of the 1970s and 1980s when advertising was used to slow the demand for products (9). Later, due to the poor economic situation in the world, many turned to more cost-effective sales promotion alternatives, such as coupons and direct marketing. For example, By 1990, advertising had lost 25 percent of its share of the marketing budget to other forms of marketing communications (10). As technology started to develop and grow, advertising was affected by it, especially with the emergence of the Internet. Today, advertising daily occurrence that surrounds us. It is inevitable and it is everywhere, in every type of media.

The business

The four distinct groups in advertising business are advertisers, agencies, suppliers and the media. Advertisers are companies that advertise by sponsoring for themselves and their products. Advertising agencies are organizations that organize advertising plans, and other promotional tools for advertisers. Suppliers are people and organizations that assist both advertisers and agencies in the preparation of advertising materials, such as photography, illustration, printing, and production. Departmental system is department of agencies based on function: account services, creative services, marketing services, and administration. (11) (12) Local advertising is sometimes called retail advertising, and it is important because most consumer sales are made locally. Local advertisers typically are dealers and local franchisees of national companies, stores that sell a variety of branded merchandise, specialty business and services, and governmental and nonprofit organizations. Product advertising is advertising that promotes goods and services. Sale advertising is advertising intended to encourage the movement of specific merchandise or increasing store traffic by emphasizing on reduced prices. Moreover, institutional advertising is advertising that obtains favorable attention for the business as a whole and classified advertising is finding a recruitment of new employees, offering services, selling, or leasing new and used merchandise (13). These types of advertising tasks are making the whole business, and they are the essence of how the advertising business should be. In addition, integrated marketing communications are important as well in building and reinforcing mutually profitable relationships with employees, customers and other stakeholders and the general public. Moving from the local advertising, there is also regional and national advertising. The difference between those two are such that the regional advertising is limited for one part of the country, whereas national advertising covers several geographical regions. Lastly, transnational advertisers advertise across different systems, environments and languages. (14)

Target audience


“Market segmentation involves viewing a heterogeneous market as a number of smaller homogenous markets, in response to differing preferences, attributable to the desires of consumers for more precise satisfaction of their varying wants.” (15) It usually involves two steps: identifying groups of people and combining these groups into larger market segments. In terms of identifying groups of people, several groups help differentiate each section from another. So, for example, behavioristic segmentation is the segmentation of markets by grouping consumers by their purchase behavior. Demographic segmentation is populations’ statistical characteristics such sex, age, ethnicity, education, occupation, income or other measurable factors. Volume segmentation analyses the buying intensity of consumers. Geographic segmentation is segmenting markets by geographic regions based on the shared characteristics, needs, or wants of people within a region (16).


The communication plays important role in advertising because it is a tool by which advertising gets to be communicated by. According to the Shannon and Weaver’s model, the model consists of related parts, which are Information source, Transmitter, Channel, Receiver, and Destination. An information source produces a message. The transmitter encodes the message into signals. The channel is the medium, which encodes a message and sends to a receiver. A receiver decodes the message from the signal, and a destination is where the message arrives. Except these parts of the model, sometimes the feedback is also included. Feedback is the message that recognizes or responds to an initial message. (17) If the message gets to be misunderstood, the advertisement could send a wrong message, and thus, the whole advertising plan could fall into problems, so it is important for those who are working in advertising companies to have a sense of what message they will be sending to the public. What helps to advertisers in today’s world is the interactive media. Interactive media, such as internet and interactive television permits consumers to give feedback on the same channel used by the original sender. (18)

Planning and Creating ads

One of the most important tasks in advertising is planning on implementing advertisement material and reaching the audience. The American Marketing Association’s (AMA) definition of marketing research [which is related to advertising planning] emphasizes its role in linking marketing managers to information about their customers: “Marketing research is the function which links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information – information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve our understanding of marketing as a process.” (19) Advertising research uncovers the information needed for making advertising decisions. It is the systematic gathering and analysis of information to help develop and evaluate advertising strategies, ads, and entire campaigns. (20) Advertising strategy consists of creative strategy, media strategy, product concept, target audience, media alternative and possible message elements. Advertisers need to be creative in order to attract consumers; therefore, their ads need to be composed to appeal consumers. Creative strategy is a written statement that is creative team’s guidance for writing and producing ad. In terms of the media strategy, advertisers need to be aware of where do their consumers usually go to check the information. Is it television, or internet or newspaper? Then, they need to decide where they will publish the ads. Product concept is important because consumers want to know the qualities of their brands, so they can develop (potentially) a brand loyalty. Advertisers also need to know what the target audience for a specific brand is. The major purpose is to develop a rich profile of the brand’s target audience. So when it comes to doing a research, usually what companies tend to do is pretesting. Pretesting is the testing the effectiveness of an advertisement for gaps or flaws in message content before recommending it to clients often conducted through focus groups. After pretesting, usually what advertisers do is posttesting. Posttesting is the testing of the effectiveness of the advertisement after it has been run. (21)

There are five basic steps in the research process:

  1. Situation analysis and problem definition
  2. Informal research
  3. Construction of research objectives
  4. Formal research
  5. Interpretation and reporting of findings

In the analysis of the situation and defining the problem, companies often use marketing information system, which helps them generate and continuously follow the flow of information for use in making marketing decisions. In informal research, one learns about the market, the competition, and the business environment so that one can better define a problem. The data from the research is divided into two groups: primary and secondary data. Primary data is a research information gained directly from the marketplace. Secondary data is the information that has been previously collected or published. (22) Research objectives include the research on the market share, customers and competition. Conducting the formal research consists of formal, qualitative and quantitative research. Formal research occurs when a company wants to gather primary data directly from the marketplace about the problem. Qualitative research conducts usually conducts a general impression of the market, the consumer or the product, whereas qualitative research conducts surveys and numbers. The report of the findings usually involves having tables, graphs and statistics, so that the problem can be both explanatory and measurable, so that the ones who are doing the research know what they are dealing with. The challenging as well as fun part is creating advertisements. Creative strategy is the guidance to the team for writing and producing the advertisement. It is a simple written statement of the most important issues to consider in the development of an ad or campaign. It identifies the benefits to the presented to consumers, but it does not cover execution. How the benefits will presented is the creative team’s job (23). A creator may be a person/company who crafts original content with the purpose of selling advertisement or content to an advertiser. The idea is that a large number of ads created for an advertiser can help persuade the future advertiser and that they are a profitable and creative way of making their own brands. (24) When creating print advertisements, the most important is design. Design is how the art director, graphic artist, or a graphic designer chooses and structures the artistic elements of an ad. Furthermore, layouts are very important, because they arrange all the format elements of an ad: visual, headline, subheads, body copy, slogan, seal, logo and signature. Moreover, layout helps in developing the nonverbal and symbolic components of an ad. (25) The design process has several components, thumbnail sketches, rough layout, dummy and comprehensive layout. Thumbnail sketch is a very small, rough, rapidly produced drawing that the artist uses to visualize layout approaches without wasting time on details; they are very basic. Rough layout is the layout of an actual ad. A dummy is the handheld look and feel of brochures, multipage materials, or point-of-purchase displays. Comprehensive layout is a facsimile of finished ad with copy set in type and pasted into position along with proposed illustrations. (26) The work of the copywriter and art director is always subject to approval. The larger agency and the larger the client, the more formidable this process becomes. After creating ads, they have to be produced and sent through various forms of media. These tasks are usually the responsibility of the print production manager, or for electronic media, a producer. The job of this manager is keeping the project going smoothly, taking care of the budget, while continuing the necessary level of quality through every step of the invention process. Production managers and producers implement the four tasks of management: planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. The costs of making the ad have to be within the planned budget. (27) For the production process to run efficiently, everyone concerned must understand the procedure. The later errors are discovered, the more expensive is to fix them. Advertisements are present in all forms of the media. In terms of radio, radio spots are among quickest, simplest, and least expensive ads to produce. Spots are also known as radio commercials. Digital media channels of communication apply to telecommunication, television and computer technologies. It is in the interest of the advertisers to reach the mass audience. Television production, for example, consists of three segments, which are preproduction, production and postproduction. Preproduction is all the work prior to the actual day of filming. Production is the day when the commercial is filmed or videotaped. Postproduction is the all the work done after shooting to edit and finish commercial. Digital media production process is a hybrid of other processes that were stated. It is the most expensive one as well.(28)


“Advertising considerations began to influence greatly on the operations of media, particularly their orientation to content and programming, and the organization of audiences in terms of social, spatial, and temporal qualities. (29)” When it comes to select the media, advertisers are basically looking for two things: the number of people exposed to their advertisements, and how often it occurs. Print media, since it was the first media ever used for advertising, is still today very important, even though the digital media is far popular. Print advertising can be an important for the media mix, which is the combination of media types that work together to most effectively deliver an advertiser’s message. (30) The most of the advertisements that we see are in magazines, such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health and so on. It sure benefits the advertising business, but those ads are also expensive and they do not come so often, such as television advertisements or radio advertisements do. Magazines are usually separated into categories of content geography and size. Content magazines are usually consumer magazines, farm magazines and business magazines. Essentially, consumer magazines are magazines that are purchased for entertainment, information or both, and edited for consumers who buy products for their own personal consumption. Farm publications are for farmers and their families or to companies that manufacture or sell agricultural equipment, supplies, and services. Business magazines, by far the largest category, target business readers. They include trade publications for retailers, wholesalers, and other distributors (31). In terms of geography, magazines are divided as local, regional and national. Local city magazines are magazines by most major U.S. cities that have typical readership that is upscale, professional people interested in local arts, fashion, and business. Regional publications are targeted to a specific area of the country, such as the West or the South. National magazines are magazines that are distributed throughout a country. (32) The electronic media refers to the television, radio and internet. The companies that measure the program audiences of TV and radio stations for advertises are rating services. Rating services and media planners use many terms to define a station’s audience, penetration and efficiency. They are very important to advertisers, because of the successfulness of their business, as well as the money. The process of buying a TV time can be lengthy and, depending on the number of stations that are bought. What usually advertisers do is calculate the cost per rating point and cost per thousand for each program. The equation is cost divided by rating. That is how advertisers usually know if they are getting the desired outcome of the possible target audience. In addition, the growth of social media as improved advertising much more over the past decade. Advertisements on the Facebook and other social media are inevitable and it is hard to avoid them. (33)

Collaboration with other branches

It is not unknown that advertising tends to collaborate with other branches such as media, marketing and public relations. In terms of media, advertisers are well known with the term media planning. Media planning is a process of conceiving, analyzing, and selecting channels of communication that will direct advertising messages to the right people in the right place at the right time. Media objectives are key terms for what advertisers should look for. Audience objectives are types of people the advertiser wants to reach. Message-distribution objectives define where, when and how often advertising should appear. In this sense, the term reach is very important. Reach is the total number of different people exposed, at least once, to a medium during a given period of time (34). Also, media strategy is divided in five factors, which are markets, money, media, mechanics and methodology. Markets are different targets of a media plan: trade and consumer audiences, global, national, or regional audiences. Media includes all communication vehicles available to a marketer. Mechanics are what the advertising is transferred through, television, radio, etc. Methodology element is the overall strategy of selecting and scheduling media vehicles to achieve the desired message.(35) Beyond the media, marketing is very important for advertising. Direct marketing, according to the Direct Marketing Association, “an interactive process of addressable communication that uses one or more advertising media to effect, at any location, a measurable sale, lead, retail purchase, or charitable donation, with this activity analyzed on a database for the development of ongoing mutually beneficial relationships between marketers and customers, prospects, or donors. Along with mass advertising, direct marketing allows organizations to inform potential customers, create brand awareness, or spur immediate purchase behavior. In addition, direct marketing enjoys certain advantages over mass advertising such as measurability, accountability, efficiency, and higher return on investment.” Direct marketing has components, such as direct sales, which are divided into direct sales, with representatives selling products to customers directly, and telemarketing, by selling products over the telephone. Direct – response advertising is a type of advertising where the customer provides a feedback to a marketer. (36) “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.” Bernays (37) Public relations refers to management function that focuses on the relationships and communications that individuals and organizations have with the society in reaching the mutual benefits. Since both of them are very similar, the difference between advertising and the public relations is that advertising is selling something (a product or idea), whereas public relations is just promoting a product or idea. The job of public relations within the advertising is to maintain the reputation of the organization, and balance the organization’s agenda and their business with the publicity. (38)

- Advertising is form of communicating information, in persuasive purposes for products (goods, services, and ideas) by acknowledged sponsors through numerous media.

- Marketing communications are various efforts and tools used to communicate with customers.

- Product advertising is advertising that promotes goods and services.

- Sale advertising is advertising intended to encourage the movement of specific merchandise or increasing store traffic by emphasizing on reduced prices.

- Institutional advertising is advertising that obtains favorable attention for the business as a whole.

- Classified advertising is finding and recruitment of new employees, offering services, or selling or leasing new and used merchandise.

- Departmental system is department of ad agencies based on function: account services, creative services, marketing services, and administration.

- Behavioristic segmentation is the segmentation of markets by grouping consumers by their purchase behavior.

- Demographic segmentation is population’s statistical characteristics such as sex, age, ethnicity, education, occupation, income, or other measurable factors.

- Channel is the medium which encodes a message and sends to a receiver.

- feedback is message that recognizes or responds to an initial message.

- Interactive media is the media that allows consumers to give feedback on the same channel used by the original message sender. Examples: Internet.

- Advertising research is the systematic collecting and analysis of information to develop or evaluate advertising strategies, ads and commercials, and media campaigns.

- Creative strategy is a written statement that is creative team’s guidance for writing and producing an ad.

- Media mix is the mixture of various media types that work together to deliver an advertiser’s message.

- Media planning directs advertising messages to the right people in the right place at the right time.

- Direct marketing is a type of marketing in which companies build their own record of customers and use a variety of media to communicate with them directly such as through ads and catalogs.

- Public Relations is the management/communication practice of maintaining the information and relationships between an organization and the public for the purpose of creating mutual goodwill.


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