Advertising Definition

Advertising is defined by AMA as follows:

“Advertising means any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor.”

In this brief article, I am going to answer the question, “What is Advertising?”.

The article is also going to cover objectives and types of advertising. After reading the article, I hope you will have a better idea of advertising.
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Let’s explore the basics of advertising. Are you ready?

Advertising is an important but an expensive element of marketing communication, often put in the category of promotion. Today, advertising is changing fast due to the the disruptive digital technologies.

Traditional vs digital Advertising

The traditional advertising really took off with the arrival of a radio and television. Prior to that businesses would advertise in newspapers and magazines.

The model was very simple then. The news and magazines publications had the readers, and the businesses wanted to sell the readers their services. So they advertised with them in print , on radio or TV.

However, the advent of digital technologies has shifted the focus to digital advertising. Traditional advertising is facing a sharp decline in their ad revenues now. Responding to the changing scenario, the traditional media outlets have been changing their business model as well. For example, most of the newspaper are now running their own websites and sell advertising spaces online.  

What are the Types of Advertising?

These are the major types of advertising:

  • Print advertising
  • Billboard Advertising
  • Radio and TV Advertising
  • Display banner

According to Bearden et. al. (2007, chapter 17, p. 397-398) advertising can be classified as

  • Corporate image advertising
  • Corporate advocacy advertising
  • Public service advertising
  • Classified advertising
  • Direct- response advertising
  • Business-to-business advertising
  • Cooperative advertising

In their book, Kerin (2007, chapter 16, p. 354-355 ) have listed two broad types of advertising:

1: Product Advertisements which has three forms:

  • Pioneer Advertising (informational, in early stage of product)
  • Competitive Advertising (persuasive, also comparative to convince buyers)
  • Reminder Advertising (also reinforcement to assure)

2: Institutional Advertisements and it includes:

  • Advocacy advertising ( about a cause, or company statement on an issue)
  • Pioneering institutional Advertising (informing about a company.What it can do)
  • Competitive institutional Advertising
  • Reminder Institutional Advertising

 What are the Advertising objectives?

Image Source.

After reading about the types of advertising, you can guess the objectives of advertising now.

For the entrepreneur, advertising can have 3 main objectives:

  • 1: Raise Awareness
  • 2: Convince buyers to buy your product
  • 3: Remind the target marketing of your product or service.

Advertising is supposed to attract us towards a product or service by providing important information or creating positive feelings. But the attention is supposed to get the consumers develop positive attitude towards a brand. Once the positive impression develops, the advertiser hopes that consumer would end up buying the product or service. (Percy & Elliot, 2007)

Now, think about ads you have seen online or on TV, and try to guess their objectives. By the way, you cannot always know the real objectives of an advertiser until you have read their marketing plan. However, you can guess what broad direction they are taking with an advertising message.

How does Advertising Help you Create  Brand Positioning?

Every brand faces a difficult challenge of building its own, but unique, brand knowledge. A brand knowledge cannot be created overnight. It is a time-consuming process. Most entrepreneurs are often too busy and they often fail to understand the purpose of branding. This is how often the branding process gets hurt, especially in a small business.

A brand has to win a marketing battle at least on two major fronts:

a). Point of Parity (when you match the competition in terms of product/service)

b). Point of Difference (when you beat the competition in terms of product/service through differentiation)

It is a lot easier to create a point of parity in the factory than do the same in the market. The market already offers similar product coming from the competition. It makes it hard for a new brand to either achieve parity or create a difference.

Additional Thoughts about advertising

Advertising is simply a propaganda on behalf of a business. I know the statement sounds crude but this how it used to be perceived in the early 20th century. As the word propaganda carries a lot of negative connotations, therefore, it had to be dropped. 

Today, almost no one can escape advertising and it is even forced upon us in so many ways. A lot of people must hate adverts because they just disrupt their favorite TV program or sports shows etc.

As a result, we are becoming efficient at avoiding or skipping ads. Even, if the ad is forced upon us, we just shut our minds. Do you recall how someone in the family would start talking when commercial breaks would disrupt a favorite family show?

Questions for the wondering mind:

Is advertising the same old propaganda?

Isn’t advertising mostly a waste of money today?

Why do millennial kids hate advertising?

How to reach the millennial kids if they hate advertising?


Percy, L., Elliot, R. (2009). Strategic Advertising Management. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bearden, W. O., Ingram, T.N., LaForge, R.W. (2007). Marketing Principles and Perspective (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill
Kerin, R. A., Hartley, S.W., Rudelius, W. ( 2007). Marketing: the core (2nd ed.). New York, McGraw-Hill Irwin