Using Advertising: Advantages & Disadvantages

Instructor: David Whitsett

David has taught computer applications, computer fundamentals, computer networking, and marketing at the college level. He has a MBA in marketing.

Advertising is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used as an implement for good or not-so-good. In this lesson, we will discuss the uses of advertising for positive purposes, and highlight how ads can have harmful effects as well.

A Double-Edged Sword

When something cuts both ways, capable of having both a positive and a negative impact, it is often referred to as a 'double-edged sword'. Advertising definitely fits that description. By definition, advertising is producing information to promote the sale or create awareness of a product or a service. Sounds innocent enough, right? But what if an ad uses deception or misrepresentation, or is targeted at children who aren't old enough to know they're being manipulated?

Ads can cut both ways like this sword - a force for good or bad
Double-edged sword

A Force For Good

Advertising can serve many positive purposes. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Creating an informed consumer - Knowledge is power. Knowing what products are available, when they are offered at reduced prices, and where to find them are all valuable for consumers. For example, think of how car buying has changed since the advent of the Internet - consumers can now do research beforehand so when they walk into the dealership, they have all the necessary facts at their fingertips. They are therefore equipped to make better buying decisions.
  • Public service ads - People often learn about important health and safety concerns through public service announcements.
  • A boon to the economy - Ads stimulate demand, which creates jobs and results in higher spending for products and services. Competition between businesses can also lead to new products and innovation.
  • Benefits to society - Advertising is a form of free speech, and since advertising sometimes pushes social boundaries and promotes social change, it can also advance the concept of free speech.

The Dark Side of Advertising

Have you ever felt manipulated or deceived by an ad? Has an ad made you fearful or anxious? Let's examine how ads can have a negative effect on consumers:

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