The word advertising comes from the Latin “ad vertere” and means to turn the mind towards. To persuade. Advertising is defined as “a paid, mediated form of communication from an identifiable source, designed to persuade the receiver to take some action, now or in the future.”
If we look at this definition, we see that advertising has four parts to it that separate it from other kinds of marketing communication such as publicity or sales promotions. Firstly, advertising is:
It costs money to advertise. Australia’s largest advertisers such as Coles or the Federal Government regularly spend over $150 million on advertising every year. This makes advertising different to publicity, for example, where press releases are sent to the media in the hope that they may be published. With publicity there is no cost, but advertisers pay set rates to advertise on different programs at different times of the day. The cost of an ad on the Superbowl in the US is about the most expensive space of all, about $1 million for 30 seconds.
Mediated form of communication
Rather than the person-to-person communication that takes place when you have a conversation with your friends, the communication of advertising is mediated by technology. This might be television, in the case of a TV ad, or it might be the internet in the case of a banner ad. Once we used to say that advertising only used mass media such as television or newspaper or outdoor. But now advertising takes place across all communication channels, including the internet, mobile phones, shopping dockets even toilet paper.
From an identifiable sponsor
There wouldn’t be much point to advertising the product or service unless you knew where to buy it or who to contact to ask more questions. The whole objective of advertising is to get your product, service or idea noticed. Sometimes we will see teaser ads, which catch our interest but don’t tell us what the product is. But all is generally revealed in a follow up ad, which does identify the sponsor.
Designed to persuade or encourage action in the short or long term
Advertising is not just a form of entertainment or an interesting piece of cinematography. It isn’t like a poem or a piece of editorial that we put into the public domain in the hope that someone might read it. Advertising has to communicate. It begins with an advertising problem (such as no one knows about our product) from which objectives are developed (to increate target market awareness of our product by 50% in a six month period). Then the advertising is created to achieve these objectives – to get people to act by noticing our product, by increasing usage of our product, by visiting our website, or by using SMS to enter a competition. At the end of the campaign (at the end of 6 months in the case of our earlier objective), we can measure the action to see whether the campaign has been successful (that is, how many of our target market are aware of our product).