Advertising is an important element of the marketing communications mix. Put simply, advertising directs a message at large numbers of people with a single communication. It is a mass medium.

Planning for advertising

Advertising agencies and their clients plan for advertising. Any plan should address the following stages:

  • Who is the potential TARGET AUDIENCE of the advert?
  • WHAT do I wish to communicate to this target audience?
  • Why is this message so IMPORTANT to them?
  • What is the BEST MEDIUM for this message to take (see some of the possible media above)?
  • What would be the most appropriate TIMING?
  • What RESOURCES will the advertising campaign need?
  • How do we CONTROL our advertising and monitor success?

There are two key categories of advertising, namely ‘above-the-line’ and ‘below-the-line.’ The definitions owe a lot to the historical development of advertising agencies and how they charge for their services. In a nutshell, ‘above-the-line’ is any work done involving media where a commission is taken by an advertising agency, and ‘below-the-line’ is work done for a client where a standard charge replaces commission. So TV advertising is ‘above-the-line’ since an agency would book commercial time on behalf of a client, but placing an advert in a series of local newspapers is ‘below-the-line,’ because newspapers tend to apply their own costing approach where no commission is taken by the agency i.e. instead the agency charges the client a transparent fee. There are many facets and elements to advertising – too many to be covered in this short lesson. Try some of the other lessons to build your knowledge.

Advertising has a number of benefits for the advertiser. The advertiser has control over the message. The advert and its message, to an extent, would be designed to the specifications of the advertiser. So the advertiser can focus its message at a huge number of potential consumers in a single hit, at a relatively low cost per head. Advertising is quick relative to other elements of the marketing communications mix (for example personal selling, where an entire sales force would need to be briefed – or even recruited). Therefore an advertiser has the opportunity to communicate with all (or many of) its target audience simultaneously.

Advertising Media

Outdoor (Posters or transport)

New Media – Mobile devices

New Media Internet – websites and search engines

Newspapers (Local and National)






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Tim Friesner

Marketing Teacher designs and delivers online marketing courses, training and resources for marketing learners, teachers and professionals.