Advertising is a message that tries to sell something. Companies advertise everything from cars to candy. Advertising is also used to change people's ideas. For example, an ad (advertisement) could try to make voters choose a certain candidate for president. Ads appear almost everywhere you look. You find them on the radio and on TV, in magazines, shop windows and on T shirts. They show up inside elevators, on school buses and even in schools. About 600 billion dollars are spent on advertising around the world every year.

Advertising techniques

Advertising does two main jobs. It tells people about something, like a product or a service and it also works to make people want to buy the product or service.

Ads (advertisements) do their jobs in many different ways. Many printed ads have headlines or boldly printed words that make people stop and read them. The headline may promise something that the reader wants, like a good price. Other headlines may carry the announcement of a new product.

Some ads use slogans that are used over and over again .They are easy to remember and often use a catchy phrase. Sometimes slogans are not related to the product.

In many ads a famous person talks about a product and tells why they use it. This person may be an actor, a model or a well-known athlete. Or they may just be an average user of a product.

Ads also compare a product with another one of the same type. The ad points out why a product is better.

Some ads feature cartoon or product characters. They may appear in an ad over a long time. The characters become well known and people identify them with a product.

Repetition is one of the most basic techniques used in the advertising business. Advertisers broadcast their commercials several times a day for days or weeks to get the message across. When people see an ad more often they may be more likely to accept the message and want the product.

Advertising media

Advertising gets to people through different forms of communication. Newspapers, magazines and direct mail belong to print media. TV, radio and the Internet are among the most important electronic media.


Almost half of a newspaper is made up of ads. Local papers have ads of local companies, but nationwide newspapers also advertise products that are sold all over the country. Most papers are published daily so new ads, like products on sale or movie openings can be placed every day. Newspapers sell advertising space in all sections of their paper. In most cases ads of products will be put in the section they are related to.

Display ads are big ads that can take up from a few cm to a full page. They have illustrations, headlines and lots of information on a certain field.

Classified ads appear in a separate section of a newspaper. Most of them only have a few lines and list homes, cars for sale, furniture or other things that private people want to sell or buy.


Magazines mostly appear all over the country and are used by national advertisers. In contrast to newspapers they are read when people have more time. They are kept for a few weeks or even months. Better printing quality and colour ads are among the advantages of magazines.

Many special magazines are made for groups of people. The ads that appear there are especially for these groups. A computer magazine, for instance, may have many ads related to computers, printers or scanners.

Direct mail

Direct mail consists of leaflets, brochures, catalogs or letters, that are mailed directly to people. Mail-order companies profit from this kind of advertising. Some mailing lists send information to all the people others only have special lists according to the jobs that people have or their age or income. Direct mail costs a lot of money, but advertising companies can be sure that they will reach the people.


Local advertisers place about 70 per cent of advertising on the radio. An advantage of radio is that people listen to programs while doing other things. In some cases radios are on the whole day. Commercials last about 30 seconds. Radio stations are more specialized in what they broadcast. One radio station offers pop music and has a younger listening audience; the other may broadcast classical music with older listeners. The ads can be chosen according to the group of people who listen.

Outdoor signs

Large colourful outdoor signs can easily catch the attention of by-passers. But these ads must be short and simple because viewers see them only for a few seconds.

The main signs are posters, billboards and electronic displays. Billboards are owned by local companies that rent them to advertisers. Sometimes ads are painted on buildings. Electronic billboards have large displays where ads change very quickly. They are the most expensive kind of outdoor signs.


Television combines sound and moving images. It is one of the most expensive forms of advertising, but on the other hand it reaches a very wide audience. Advertisers buy time from TV stations to broadcast their commercials. This time is cheaper at times when fewer people watch TV, as in the early morning hours and gets very expensive during prime time evening shows. Sometimes advertisers pay a lot of money to get their ads on TV during special programmes, like the Olympic Games or the Super Bowl.

Infomercials have become very popular in the last few years. They are normal TV shows that focus on the sales of certain products. Details on how to buy the product (telephone numbers etc.) are repeated many times during the programme.

Some TV stations also sell advertisers product placements. For example a brand of pizza can a car can appear in a scene of a TV show.


Internet advertising is becoming more and more important. Especially young people spend less time watching TV and more time on the Internet. The Internet has the advantage of being available to people around the world at all times.

Ads range from banners to pop-ups. Companies that spend a lot of money on advertising often create their own Internet site for a certain product. Web users are often asked to fill out a form that asks them about their daily routines, where they live, how old they are, how much they earn etc. Companies use this information to find out what kind of people visit their websites. Sometimes ads are sent via email. Because a lot of unwanted emails (spam) are sent throughout the world many people don't like this.

Production of ads

Most companies hire special advertising firms that specialize in making ads.

The first step in making ads is to learn about the product and understand who uses it.

Information is gathered from customers. Market research takes a look at the customers' buying habits and conduct sample surveys. Researchers also try to find out how customers rate various brands of products.

Research also tries to find out why customers buy a product. For example, advertisers may find out that people buy a certain car because they want to impress their friends or show that they have a lot of money. The age, sex and social status of a consumer may also be important. They also try to find out where and when a product is sold best. Snowboards for example can probably be sold better during the winter time and in skiing resorts. It is also important to determine which kind of media is best to advertise the product.

People in the creative department develop ideas and themes. They prepare photos or images if an ad is to appear in newspapers or magazines as well as jingles and slogans if it appears on radio or TV.

When the ad is ready it goes to the media organization where it is run.


Governments have made laws that protect consumers from misleading advertising. There are also laws that ban certain kinds of advertising. Tobacco advertising, for example, is not allowed on TV in the USA and in many European countries. Some rules are directed at children's ads where the use of violence or dangerous activity is often not allowed.