Advertising is the business of drawing public attention to goods and services. It is an important part of a promotional mix that also includes…
Advertising is the business of drawing public attention to goods and services, performed through a variety of media. It is an important part of a overall promotional strategy. Other components of the promotional mix include publicity, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion.
In ancient times the most common form of advertising was by word of mouth; however, commercial messages and political campaign displays have been found in the ruins of Pompeii. Egyptians used papyrus to create sales messages and wall posters, while lost-and-found advertising on papyrus was common in Greece and Rome. Wall or rock painting for commercial advertising is another manifestation of an ancient media advertising form, which is present to this day in many parts of Asia, Africa, and South America. For instance, the tradition of wall paintings can be traced back to Indian rock-art paintings that goes back to 4000 BC. As printing developed in the 15th and 16th century, advertising expanded to include handbills. In the 17th century advertisements started to appear in weekly newspapers in England.
These early print ads were used mainly to promote books, which became increasingly affordable thanks to the printing press, and medicines, which were increasingly sought after as disease ravaged Europe. However, false advertising and so-called «quack» ads became a problem, which ushered in regulation of advertising content.
As the economy was expanding during the 19th century, the need for advertising grew at the same pace. In the US classified ads became popular, filling pages of newspapers with small print messages promoting all kinds of goods. The success of this advertising format led to the growth of mail-order advertising such as the Sears Catalog, at one time referred to as the «Farmer’s Bible». 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 by the 20th century, advertising agencies started to take over responsibility for the content as well.
The 1960s saw advertising transform into a modern, more scientific approach in which creativity was allowed to shine, producing unexpected messages that made advertisements more tempting to consumers’ eyes. The Volkswagen ad campaign featuring such headlines as «Think Small» and «Lemon» ushered in the era of modern advertising by promoting a «position» or «unique selling proposition» designed to associate each brand with a specific idea in the reader or viewer’s mind.
The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the introduction of cable television and particularly MTV. Pioneering the concept of the music video, MTV ushered in a new type of advertising: the consumer tunes in for the advertisement, rather than it being a byproduct or afterthought. As cable (and later satellite) television became increasingly prevalent, «specialty» channels began to emerge, and eventually entire channels, such as Home Shopping Network and ShopTV emerged.
Marketing through the Internet opened new frontiers for advertisers and led to the «dot-com» boom of the 1990s. Entire corporations operated solely on advertising revenue, offering everything from coupons to free Internet access. At the turn of the 21st century, the search engine Google revolutionized online advertising by emphasizing contextually relevant, unobtrusive ads intended to help, rather than inundate, users. This has led to a plethora of similar efforts and an increasing trend of interactive advertising.
Today, innovations as «guerrilla promotions», which involve unusual approaches such as staged encounters in public places, giveaways of products such as cars that are covered with brand messages, and interactive advertising where the viewer can respond to become part of the advertising message. This reflects an increasing trend of interactive and «embedded» ads.
Commercial advertising media can include wall paintings, billboards, street furniture components, printed flyers, radio, cinema and television ads, web banners, web popups, skywriting , bus stop benches, magazines, newspapers, town criers, sides of buses, taxicab doors and roof mounts, musical stage shows, subway platforms and trains, elastic bands on disposable diapers, stickers on apples in supermarkets, the opening section of streaming audio and video, posters, and the backs of event tickets and supermarket receipts. Any place an «identified» sponsor pays to deliver their message through a medium is advertising.
A more recent version of this is advertising in film, by having a main character use an item or other of a definite brand — an example is in the movie Minority Report, where Tom Cruise’s character Tom Anderton owns a computer with the Nokia logo clearly written in the top corner, or his watch engraved with the Bulgari logo. Another example is in I, Robot, where main character played by Will Smith mentions his Converse shoes several times, calling them «classics,» because the film is set far in the future. Cadillac chose to advertise in the movie The Matrix Reloaded, which as a result contained many scenes in which Cadillac cars were used. Similarly, product placement for Omega Watches and BMW cars featured in recent James Bond films.
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 Super Bowl football game in the US 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 $2.5 million (as of 2006).
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 and the traffic that the website receives. E-mail advertising is another recent phenomenon. Unsolicited bulk E-mail advertising is known as «spam».
Unpaid advertising (also called word of mouth advertising), can provide good exposure at minimal cost. Personal recommendations («bring a friend», «sell it»), spreading buzz, or achieving the feat of equating a brand with a common noun («Xerox» = «photocopier», «Kleenex» = tissue) — these are the pinnacles of any advertising campaign. However, some companies oppose the use of their brand name to label an object.
With the dawn of the Internet have come many new advertising opportunities. Popup, Flash, banner, advergaming, and email advertisements (the last often being a form of spam) abound.
Each year, greater sums are paid to obtain a commercial spot during the Super Bowl, the greatest football game. Companies attempt to make these commercials sufficiently entertaining that members of the public will actually want to watch them.
Another problem is people recording shows on DVR’s. These devices allow users to record the programs for later viewing enabling them to fast forward through commercials. Additionally, as more seasons or “Boxed Sets” come out of Television shows; fewer people are watching their shows on TV. However, the fact that these sets are sold, means that the company will additionally receive profits from the sales of these sets. To counter this effect, many advertisers have opted for product placement on TV shows like “Survivor”.
Another significant trend to note for the future of advertising is the growing importance of niche or targeted ads. Also brought about by the Internet and the theory of The Long Tail , advertisers will have an increasing ability to reach narrow audiences. In the past, the most efficient way to deliver a message was to cover the largest mass market audience possible. However, usage tracking, customer profiles and the growing popularity of niche content provides advertisers with audiences that are smaller but much better defined, leading to ads that are more relevant to viewers and more effective for companies marketing products. Among others, Comcast Spotlight is one such advertiser employing this method in thier video on demand menus. These advertisements are targeted to a specfic group and can be viewed by anyone wishing to find out more about a particular business or practice at any time, right from thier home. This causes the viewer to become proactive and actually choose what advertisements they want to view