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What is Advertising? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Definition of Advertising
  • 0:53 Common Advertising…
  • 2:43 Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education Administration.

The greatest product or service in the world won't make money unless consumers know it exists. In this lesson, you'll learn the definition of advertising, common advertising media, and read some examples of effective advertising.

Definition of Advertising

Advertising is the action of calling public attention to something, especially by paid announcements. Note that the definition uses the term 'action of' and doesn't specify that advertising is limited to print media, television, Internet, or any other specific medium. While it does place an emphasis on 'paid announcements,' it isn't a requirement. Finally, it only says that attention is called to something, not specifically good attention. Anyone that has turned on the TV during election season knows advertising can be negative.

Many business-specific definitions of advertising add that advertising is non-personal. This distinction is sometimes important because of the role face-to-face sales play in many businesses. A sales force is often considered a marketing strategy, not an advertising strategy.

Common Advertising Media and Examples

Any medium that can take a message from an organization to a potential consumer can be used for advertising. Of course, the most popular media are television, radio, the Internet and print, such as newspaper, magazines, etc. Television is popular because of its large reach, but it is also costly. The 2012 Super Bowl was watched by over 111 million people, and companies that wanted a 30-second commercial during that game paid an average of $3.5 million.

Print and radio advertising can be considerably cheaper than television, but they reach much fewer people. The Internet is becoming a very popular advertising medium, not only because the cost is reasonable, but because the reach cannot only be large, but it can also be very specific. Search engines like Google and social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are able to use data about their users to place advertisements in front of them that are most likely to be of interest to the user. The company then pays Google, Facebook or LinkedIn a fee each time someone clicks on the advertisement.

While television, print, radio and the Internet are the most common forms of advertising, they aren't the only way companies can bring attention to their products and services. Sponsorships are agreements where a company pays an individual or organization to promote its products and services. When a professional golfer wears a company's logo on her shirt during a major tournament, she's being sponsored by that company. Even the cars driven by many sports figures and celebrities are based on sponsorship deals.

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