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Advertisers can use numerous media, or means, to deliver their sales messages. The principal media are newspapers, magazines, television, radio, direct mail, outdoor signs, websites, and point-of-sale or point-of-purchase advertising. Which single medium or combination of media is used depends on the product, the market area in which the company operates, the income group to which the product appeals, and other considerations.
Newspapers are the oldest advertising medium in the United States. The newspaper, with its fresh stream of news and features, stimulates a high degree of reader interest every day. Housewives often buy papers for the advertisements as much as for the editorial content. They use the retail ads as shopping guides. Classified ads provide an important service for readers who are seeking a job, an apartment or house, or a special service. Newspapers are useful for both local and national advertising.
Magazines are another important medium for advertisers. Many magazines are printed on high-quality paper, which makes it possible to run unusually attractive ads in color. Mass-circulation magazines, such as Time, Newsweek, Playboy, and Reader's Digest, reach millions of readers and are used mainly by national advertisers.
There are many consumer magazines that are highly specialized. They appeal to a wide variety of interests, such as sports, gardening, boating, dressmaking, and many others. In addition, a variety of farm, business, trade, and professional magazines are read by a limited, but stable, audience. These specialized publications offer a select market for advertisers. Medical journals, for instance, carry a large amount of advertising for new drugs and equipment.
Radio is a particularly appealing medium to advertisers because it has an audience all day long. People at home listen to the radio while they relax or clean or prepare meals. Drivers often listen to the radio on the way to or from work. Many people carry transistor radios to picnics, sports events, and other outings. Radio advertising can be used for local campaigns or as part of a national or large regional effort. Spot commercials, or brief sales messages on a local station or group of stations, are used to strengthen the advertiser's sales effort in a specific area. Network radio is used for larger campaigns. However, there has been a decline in the use of network radio advertising since the advent of television.
Television has been a major advertising medium since it first became available on a network basis in 1948. The great advantage of television advertising is that it combines the powerful selling features of the newspaper, the radio, and the motion picture.
Television advertising is costly and therefore can be used only by large enterprises. A national advertiser may regularly sponsor a network television show that is seen by millions of viewers throughout the country. In addition, advertisers may purchase spot commercials on local stations.
Point-of-sale advertising includes in-store banners, window posters, counter cards, shelf cards, tags, leaflets, and other printed matter. Much of this advertising serves as a follow-through on printed advertisements and broadcast commercials. It informs shoppers that the items they have seen or heard advertised elsewhere can be bought at a particular location. This type of advertising is especially important in self-service stores, where there are no salesmen to guide or persuade the shopper.
Direct-mail advertising includes all advertising material sent by mail to lists of prospective customers. The wide variety of material used includes form letters, catalogs, pamphlets, brochures, samples, and even attention-getting novelties. A great part of direct-mail advertising is known more specifically as mailorder advertising. The mail-order advertiser uses this technique to get orders for his products or services directly by mail, without the help of salesmen or retail stores. Companies that sell direct by mail also run advertisements, usually with an order coupon included, in magazines and newspapers.
Outdoor advertising includes all forms of advertising messages that are presented near thoroughfares or in public places, such as baseball parks. Most prominent among the variety of devices used in outdoor advertising are highway billboards and electric signs called spectaculars. Building walls are also frequently used for advertising. An outdoor advertisement must present its message in very few words so that it can be read quickly by passersby or motorists.
Other advertising media include car cards placed in public vehicles; theater programs; industrial films; book jackets; giveaways, such as calendars and blotters with the company's name on them; skywriting; and leaflets distributed by hand.
Advertising is often used to obtain leads that are followed up by either salesmen or sales literature. In such cases the ads invite readers or listeners to write to the company for more information about the product or service being offered. Experience has proved that those who respond to such ads are good prospects.