Introduction to Mass Communication MCM 101
IMPACT OF ADVERTISING
Advertising objectives are the communication tasks to be accomplished with specific customers
that a company is trying to reach during a particular time frame. A company that advertises usually strives to
achieve one of four advertising objectives: trial, continuity, brand switching, and switchback. Which of the
four advertising objectives is selected usually depends on where the product is in its life cycle.
The purpose of the trial objective is to encourage customers to make an initial purchase of a new
product. Companies will typically employ creative advertising strategies in order to cut through other
competing advertisements. The reason is simple: Without that first trial of a product by customers, there
will not be any re peat purchases.
Continuity advertising is a strategy to keep current customers using a particular product. Existing
customers are targeted and are usually provided new and different information about a product that is
designed to build consumer loyalty.
Companies adopt brand switching as an objective when they want customers to switch from
competitors' brands to their brands. A common strategy is for a company to compare product price or
quality in order to convince customers to switch to its product brand.
Companies subscribe to this advertising objective when they want to get back former users of their
product brand. A company might highlight new product features, price reductions, or other important
product information in order to get former customers of its product to switchback.
Once an advertising objective has been selected, companies must then set an advertising budget for
each product. Developing such a budget can be a difficult process because brand managers want to receive
a large resource allocation to promote their products. Overall, the advertising budget should be established
so as to be congruent with overall company objectives. Before establishing an advertising budget,
companies must take into consideration other market factors, such as advertising frequency, competition
and clutter, market share, product differentiation, and stage in the product life cycle.
Advertising frequency refers to the number of times an advertisement is repeated during a given
time period to promote a product's name, message, and other important information. A larger advertising
budget is required in order to achieve a high advertising frequency: Estimates have been put forward that a
consumer needs to come in contact with an advertising message nine times before it will be remembered.
Competition and Clutter
Highly competitive product markets, such as the soft-drink industry, require higher advertising
budgets just to stay even with competitors. If a company wants to be a leader in an industry, then a
substantial advertising budget must be earmarked every year. Examples abound of companies that spend
millions of dollars on advertising in order to be key players in their respective industries (e.g., Coca Cola and
Desired market share is also an important factor in establishing an advertising budget. Increasing
market share normally requires a large advertising budget because a company's competitors counterattack
Introduction to Mass Communication MCM 101
with their own advertising blitz. Successfully increasing market share depends on advertisement quality,
competitor responses, and product demand and quality.
How customers perceive products is also important to the budget-setting process. Product
differentiation is often necessary in competitive markets where customers have a hard time differentiating
between products. For example, product differentiation might be necessary when a new laundry detergent is
advertised: Since so many brands of detergent already exist, an aggressive advertising campaign would be
required. Without this aggressive advertising, customers would not be aware of the product's availability and
how it differs from other products on the market. The advertising budget is higher in order to pay for the
Stage in the Product Life Cycle
New product offerings require considerably more advertising to make customers aware of their
existence. As a product moves through the product life cycle, fewer and fewer advertising resources are
needed because the product has become known and has developed an established buyer base. Advertising
budgets are typically highest for a particular product during the introduction stage and gradually decline as
the product matures.
Selecting the Right Advertising Approach
Once a company decides what type of specific advertising campaign it wants to use, it must decide
what approach should carry the message. A company is interested in a number of areas regarding
advertising, such as frequency, media impact, media timing, and reach.
Frequency refers to the average number of times that an average consumer is exposed to the
advertising campaign. A company usually establishes frequency goals, which can vary for each advertising
campaign. For example, a company might want to have the average consumer exposed to the message at
least six times during the advertising campaign. This number might seem high, but in a crowded and
competitive market repetition is one of the best methods to increase the product's visibility and to increase
company sales. The more exposure a company desires for its product, the more expensive the advertising
campaign. Thus, often only large companies can afford to have high-frequency advertisements during a
Media impact generally refers to how effective advertising will be through the various media outlets
(e.g., television, Internet, print). A company must decide, based on its product, the best method to
maximize consumer interest and awareness. For example, a company promoting a new laundry detergent
might fare better with television commercials rather than simple print ads because more consumers are
likely to see the television commercial. Similarly, a company such as Mercedes-Benz, which markets
expensive products, might advertise in specialty car magazines to reach a high percentage of its potential
customers. Before any money is spent on any advertising media, a thorough analysis is done of each one's
strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the cost. Once the analysis is done, the company will make the
best decision possible and embark on its advertising campaign.
Another major consideration for any company engaging in an advertising campaign is when to run
the advertisements. For example, some companies run ads during the holidays to promote season-specific
products. The other major consideration for a company is whether it wants to employ a continuous or
pulsing pattern of advertisements. Continuous refers to advertisements that are run on a scheduled basis for
a given time period. The advantage of this tactic is that an advertising campaign can run longer and might
provide more exposure over time. For example, a company could run an advertising campaign for a
particular product that lasts years with the hope of keeping the product in the minds of customers. Pulsing
indicates that advertisements will be scheduled in a disproportionate manner within a given time frame.
Thus, a company could run thirty-two television commercials over a three-or six-month period to promote
Introduction to Mass Communication MCM 101
the specific product is wants to sell. The advantage with the pulsing strategy is twofold. The company could
spend less money on advertising over a shorter time period but still gain the same recognition because the
advertising campaign is more intense.
Reach refers to the percentage of customers in the target market who are exposed to the advertising
campaign for a given time period. A company might have a goal of reaching at least 80 percent of its target
audience during a given time frame. The goal is to be as close to 100 percent as possible, because the more
the target audience is exposed to the message, the higher the chance of future sales.
The impact of advertising has been a matter of considerable debate and many different claims have been
made in different contexts. During debates about the banning of cigarette advertising, a common claim
from cigarette manufacturers was that cigarette advertising does not encourage people to smoke who would
not otherwise. The (eventually successful) opponents of advertising, on the other hand, claim that
advertising does in fact increase consumption.
According to many media sources, the past experience and state of mind of the person subjected to
advertising may determine the impact that advertising has. Children under the age of four may be unable to
distinguish advertising from other television programs, whilst the ability to determine the truthfulness of the
message may not be developed until the age of 8.
Public perception of the medium
As advertising and marketing efforts become increasingly ubiquitous in modern Western societies,
the industry has come under criticism of culture jamming which criticizes the media and consumerism using
advertising's own techniques. The industry is accused of being one of the engines powering a convoluted
economic mass production system which promotes consumption. Recognizing the social impact of
advertising, Media-watch-uk, a British special interest group, works to educate consumers about how they
can register their concerns with advertisers and regulators. It has developed educational materials for use in
schools. The award-winning book, Made You Look How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know, by
former Media-watch (a feminist organisation founded by Ann Simonton not linked to media-watch-uk)
president Shari Graydon, provides context for these issues for young readers.
Public interest groups are increasingly suggesting that access to the mental space targeted by
advertisers should be taxed, in that at the present moment that space is being freely taken advantage of by
advertisers with no compensation paid to the members of the public who are thus being intruded upon.
This kind of tax would act to reduce what is now increasingly seen as a public nuisance.
Efforts to that end are gathering momentum, with Arkansas and Maine considering bills to implement such taxation. Florida
enacted such a tax in 1987 but was forced to repeal it after six months, as a result of a concerted effort by national commercial
interests, which withdrew planned conventions, causing major losses to the tourism industry, and cancelled advertising, causing a
loss of 12 million dollars to the broadcast industry alone.
Negative effects on communication media
An extensively documented effect is the control and vetoing of free information by the advertisers.
Any negative information on a company or its products or operations often results in pressures from the
company to withdraw such information lines, threatening to cut their ads. This behavior makes the editors
of the media self-censor content that might upset their ad payers. The bigger both companies are, the bigger
their relation gets, maximizing control over single information.
Advertisers may try to minimize information about or from consumer groups, or consumer controlled
purchasing initiatives or consumer controlled quality information systems.
Another indirect effect of advertising is to modify the very nature of the communication media where it is
shown. Media that get most of their revenues from publicity try to make their medium a good place for
Introduction to Mass Communication MCM 101
communicating ads before anything else. The clearest example is television, where this means trying to
make the public stay for a long time and in a mental state that encourages spectators not to switch the
channel through the ads. Programs that are low in mental stimulus and require light concentration and are
varied are best for long sitting times. These make for much easier emotional jumps to ads, which can
become more entertaining than regular shows. A simple way to understand the objectives in television
programming is to compare contents from channels paid and chosen by the viewer with channels that get
their income mainly from advertisements.
With the dawn of the Internet have come many new advertising opportunities. Pop-up, Flash,
banner, adver-gaming, and email advertisements (the last often being a form of spam) abound.
Each year, greater sums are paid to obtain a commercial spot during super sporting events like cricket and
football championships. 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 DVRs (ex. TiVo). 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 (prize during
Particularly since the rise of "entertaining" advertising, some people may like an advert enough that they
wish to watch it later or show a friend. In general, the advertising community has not yet made this easy,
although some have used the Internet to widely distribute their adverts to anyone wishing to see or hear
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