Types of Advertising Media Tutorial

As we noted in Managing the Advertising Campaign tutorial, selection of the media outlet through which an ad will be presented has important implications for the success of a promotion. Each outlet possesses unique characteristics though not all outlet are equally effective for all advertisers.  Thus, choosing the right media can be a time consuming process requiring the marketer to balance the pros and cons of each option.

While just a few years ago marketers needed to be aware of only a few media outlets, today’s marketers must be well-versed in a wide range of media options. The reason for the growing number of media outlets lies with advances in communication technology, in particular, the Internet.  In this tutorial we provide an overview of the following advertising media:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Print Publications
  • Internet
  • Direct Mail
  • Signage
  • Product Placement
  • Mobile Devices
  • Sponsorships
  • Other Media Outlets

As we discussed in the Advertising Trends section in the Advertising tutorial, the number of media outlets will continue to grow as new technologies emerge.  Thus, marketers are well advised to continually monitor changes occurring within each media outlet.

Image by Jim Linwood

Television advertising offers the benefit of reaching large numbers in a single exposure. Yet because it is a mass medium capable of being seen by nearly anyone, television lacks the ability to deliver an advertisement to highly targeted customers compared to other media outlets. Television networks are attempting to improve their targeting efforts. In particular, networks operating in the pay-to-access arena, such as those with channels on cable and satellite television, are introducing more narrowly themed programming (i.e., TV shows geared to specific interest groups) designed to appeal to selective audiences. However, television remains an option that is best for products that targeted to a broad market.

The geographic scope of television advertising ranges from advertising within a localized geographic area using fee-based services, such as cable and fiber optic services, to national coverage using broadcast programming.

Television advertising, once viewed as the pillar of advertising media outlets, is facing numerous challenges from alternative media (e.g., Internet) and the invasion of technology devices, such as digital video recorders (see more in the Advertising Trends section in the Advertising) tutorial, that have empowered customers to be more selective on the advertisements they view. Additionally, television lacks effective response tracking which has led many marketers to investigate other media that offer stronger tracking options.

Print publications such as magazines, newspapers and Special Issue publications offer advertising opportunities at all geographic levels.

Magazines, especially those that target specific niche or specialized interest areas, are more narrowly targeted compared to broadcast media. Additionally, magazines offer the option of allowing marketers to present their message using high quality imagery (e.g., full color) and can also offer touch and scent experiences (e.g., perfume).

Newspapers have also incorporated color advertisements, though their main advantage rests with their ability to target local markets.

Special Issue publications can offer very selective targeting since these often focus on an extremely narrow topics (e.g., auto buying guide, tour guides, college and university ratings, etc.).

Promotion through radio has been a viable advertising option for over 80 years. Radio advertising is mostly local to the broadcast range of a radio station, however, at least three options exist that offer national and potentially international coverage. First, in many countries there are radio networks that use many geographically distinct stations to broadcast simultaneously. In the United States such networks as Disney (children’s programming) and ESPN (sports programming) broadcast nationally either through a group of company-owned stations or through a syndication arrangement (i.e., business agreement) with partner stations. Second, within the last few years the emergence of radio programming delivered via satellite has become an option for national advertising. Finally, the potential for national and international advertising may become more attractive as radio stations allow their signals to be broadcast over the Internet.

In many ways radio suffers the same problems as television, namely, a mass medium that is not highly targeted and offers little opportunity to track responses. But unlike television, radio presents the additional disadvantage of limiting advertisers to audio-only advertising. For some products advertising without visual support is not effective.

The fastest growing media outlet for advertising is the Internet. Compared to spending in other media, the rate of spending for Internet advertising is experiencing tremendous growth and in the U.S. trails only newspaper and television advertising in terms of total spending. Internet advertising’s influence continues to expand and each year more major marketers shift a larger portion of their promotional budget to this medium. Two key reasons for this shift rest with the Internet’s ability to: 1) narrowly target an advertising message and, 2) track user response to the advertiser’s message.

The Internet offers many advertising options with messages delivered through websites, social media or by email.

  • Website Advertising- Advertising tied to a user’s visit to a website accounts for the largest spending on Internet advertising. For marketers, website advertising offers many options in terms of:
    • Creative Types – Internet advertising allows for a large variety of creative types including text-only, image-only, multimedia (e.g., video) and advanced interactive (e.g., advertisement in the form of online games).
    • Size – In addition to a large number of creative types, Internet advertisements can be delivered in a number of different sizes (measured in screen pixels) ranging from full screen to small square ads that are only a few pixels in size. The most popular Internet ad sizes include banner ads (468 x 60 pixels), leaderboard (728 x 90 pixels) and skyscraper (160 x 600 pixels).
    • Placement – The delivery of an Internet advertisement can occur in many ways including fixed placement in a certain website location (e.g., top of page), processed placement where the ad is delivered based on user characteristics (e.g., entry of words in a search box, recognition of user via Internet tracking cookies), or on a separate webpage where the user may not see the ad until they leave a site or close their browser (e.g., pop-under).
    • Delivery – When it comes to placing advertisements on websites marketers can, in some cases, negotiate with websites directly to place an ad on the site or marketers can place ads via a third-party advertising network, which has agreements to place ads on a large number of partner websites.
  • Social Media Advertising - Similar to advertising on websites, ad placement can also be directed to social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.  While such sites offer the same website advertising options as mentioned above, they go a step further by offering placement options that visually can appear as being similar to user-created information.  For instance, the ad may have a visual design that looks the same as a user-created message on Twitter.  However, to differentiate these ads from user-created information, social media ads are often contain a "sponsored by" label indicating the message is provided by an advertiser.
  • Email Advertising – Using email to deliver an advertisement affords marketers the advantage of low distribution cost and potentially high reach. In situations where the marketer possesses a highly targeted list, response rates to email advertisements may be quite high. This is especially true if those on the list have agreed to receive email, a process known as “opt-in” marketing. Email advertisement can take the form of a regular email message or be presented within the context of more detailed content, such as an electronic newsletter. Delivery to a user’s email address can be viewed as either plain text or can look more like a website using web coding (i.e., HTML). However, as most people are aware, there is significant downside to email advertising due to highly publicized issues related to abuse (i.e., spam).