Selecting Media: Exposure, Clutter and Tracking

Length of Exposure

Some products require customers be exposed to just a little bit of information in order to build customer interest. For example, the features and benefits of a new snack food can be explained in a short period of time using television or radio commercials. However, complicated products need to present more information for customers to fully understand the product. Consequently, advertisers of these products will seek media formats that allot more time to deliver the message.

Media outlets vary in how much exposure they offer to their audience. Magazines and other publications provide opportunities for longer exposure times since these media types can be retained by the audience (i.e., keep old print magazines) or are otherwise accessible (i.e., access previous issues online) by the audience, while exposure on television and radio are generally limited to the time the ad was broadcast.

Advertising Clutter

In order to increase revenue, media outlets often include a large number of ads within a certain time, space, or location. For instance, television programs may contain many ads inserted during the scheduled run-time of a program, including many presented as 15-second or shorter commercials. A large number of advertisements delivered through a growing number of different media outlets (e.g., smartphones, electronic billboards, etc.) create an environment of advertising clutter, which makes it difficult for those in the targeted market to recognize and remember particular advertisements.

To break through the clutter advertisers may be required to increase the frequency of their advertising efforts (i.e., run more ads). Yet greater advertising frequency increases advertising expense. Alternatively, advertisers may seek opportunities that offer less clutter, where an ad has a better chance of standing out from others. This can be seen with certain news and information websites where online videos are provided. The videos may feature a five-minute story but contain only a single 30-second advertisement. Additionally, some marketers also address clutter by placing ads in venues where placement has not been common, including such public spaces as school buses, parking meters and public restrooms.

Response Tracking

As we noted in the Advertising Tutorial, marketers are embracing new technologies that make it easier to track audience response to advertisements. Newer media developed using internet and mobile network technologies offer effective methods for tracking audience response compared to traditional media. But newer media are not alone in providing response tracking. Other advertising outlets, such as advertising by mail and television infomercial programming (i.e., long-form commercials), also provide useful measures of audience reaction.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Advertising

Advantages of Advertising

There are a number of reasons marketers are attracted to advertising as a method for promoting their products. These advantages include:

  • Quickly Reach a Large Audience – Advertising not only has the potential to reach a sizeable audience, it can do so in a very short period of time (e.g., TV ad watched by millions of potential customers)
  • Helps in Gaining Product Distribution – For consumer goods marketers, the inclusion of advertising within a marketing plan may be a convincing factor in gaining the support of resellers (e.g., wholesalers, retailers).
  • Provides Effective Targeting and Tracking – Newer approaches to advertising offer marketers highly effective methods for targeting customers and also tracking their response.
  • May Reach Customers at Different Times – With the rise of social media and video sharing sites (e.g, YouTube), advertisements are not restricted to being delivered through a single media outlet (e.g., TV ad only) or only at a specific time (e.g., single showing of ad during a television program). This is because customers can still be exposed to an ad even though it is not in the media outlet where it was originally presented.
  • Effective When Addressing Certain Issues – Advertising is often the best promotional method for responding to serious or sensitive issues, such as addressing a major catastrophe.
Disadvantages of Advertising

While advertising is often hailed as the best way to promote a product, it does come with several negative issues. These disadvantages include:

  • Can Be Highly Expensive – Some forms of advertising are extremely expensive to create and distribute; consequently, these may not be a viable option for many businesses, especially smaller marketers.
  • Number of Exposures Needed to Reach Customers is Increasing – Due to the large number of advertisements customers experience every day, the number of exposures to an advertiser’s message (i.e., see or hear an ad) that are needed before the message is fully comprehended by the target market appears to be increasing.
  • Often Requires Hiring Creative People – To be effective with advertising often requires creative skills that may not be the forte of many smaller marketers, thus requiring they spend money hiring or outsourcing the creative process if they want to produce effective advertisements.
  • Increase in Customer Avoidance to Ads – Because of the constant onslaught of advertising across numerous outlets, many customers have taken a negative view and intentionally try to avoid exposure to ads (e.g., use a digital video recorder to skip ads).
  • Potential Environmental Issues – Some forms of advertising have raised environmental concerns (e.g., ads on car windshields become loose increasing trash found in public spaces).
  • Increase in People Sharing Dislike of Ads – People exposed to ads they dislike are more likely to share their displeasure with a larger group (e.g., on social media).