Advertising can be defined as a kind of commercial mass communication intended to advance the sale of goods and services.

It can as well be viewed as a message designed by an organization or an individual to encourage members of the public to adopt a certain policy (Louw 14). From the definition, it is eminent that advertising can be viewed from various viewpoints. However, the main aim of advertising is to increase a company’s sales of goods and services.

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Advertising is a common phenomenon in the contemporary world, having started many years ago when individuals wanted to improve the image of their organizations or their life styles. In the 20th century, advertising turned out to be a reliable source of expanding the operations of an organization, as well as increasing the popularity of individuals during campaigns. Some of the media such as newspapers, TV, mails, magazines and the internet became some of the important mediums used by organizations and political leaders to convince members of the public to endorse their ideologies. Advertising has always been utilized to distribute information to consumers, even though it has both negative and positive impacts. Advertising can be used to persuade people to engage in unhealthy actions such as smoking or drinking, which are proved harmful to individual health. As globalization was witnessed in the mid 20th century, people had to advertise their goods, agendas and ideologies in order to match increasing competition in the world (Kleppner 23). During the Cold War, the two superpowers utilized advertising to convince the global public to accept their ideologies.

Advertising has grown with time meaning that it keeps on changing.

The Past

In the 1950s, the advertising industry flourished owing to the availability of communication mediums such as TV sets, radio and many others. A single sponsor mainly funded many programs in the TV and Radios.

People respected TV’s adverts after realizing that they could influence an individual’s choice of a product or idea. Consequently, the adverts that were previously considered cheap became expensive to an extent that only big corporations and prominent individuals would afford. Moreover, the lengths of adverts became shorter because there were many people wishing to advertise their goods and services via the same media. Since it was the main channel of advertising, various individuals purchased the TV sets in 1960s and 1970s in order to access important information from political leaders and businesspersons (Horkheimer 12). In 1980s, there were further developments when there were additional cable TV, which gave rise to ESPN, CNN and MTV. At this time, there were changes in the advertising industry whereby commercials turned out to be less real and fantastic (Habermas 31). Companies went ahead to convince the public to consume their products or services without considering health concerns. For instance, the Coca-Cola Company encouraged people to consume its drinks without revealing the contents.

Scholars at the time were keen to criticize the commercial adverts because people could consume substandard products only because they are advertised in the TV (Lears 54). Some believed that all products were the same, only that they are packaged differently to confuse the consumer. For instance, General Mills Company produced more than 65 different cereals. The company could advertise the products differently hence confusing the consumer to believe that the products are made differently, with different ingredients. Critics argued that commercial adverts only encouraged the public to consume goods and services according to the adverts. People believed that advertising could solve their consumption needs, which was a false perception (Achbar 21).

The Present

In the 21st century, advertising is a big business because each company and corporate organization aims at promoting its image through advertising. In 2001 for instance, $18.

6 billion were spent on TV advertising in the US alone (Cook 43). In 2002, the US agency on communication reported that $41 billion was spent on broadcast advertising (Graydon 45). This shows how advertising has grown over the years to surpass the expectations of many. Currently, other forms of advertising such as the internet are slowly overtaking traditional forms of advertising such as TV and radio advertising. This is mainly because of the change in technology whereby the consumer is believed to be using the internet frequently, as opposed to listening or watching the radio and the TV respectively. Digital signage is the main mass media owing to its capability to reach a huge number of consumers at a reduced fee.

Furthermore, the company can easily track the progress and the effectiveness of the advert. Due to technology, it is possible in the contemporary world to control the information meant for consumers easily, which would enable the sender to reach the target at a convenient time. The supermarkets are successfully using digital signage to advertise their products. Furthermore, the use of World Wide Web is overtaking the use of traditional mediums of advertising. Individuals are using social sites such as Face book and Twitter during campaigns to popularize their political parties, as well as services. The sites are effective because they attract a large audience, especially the youths who are very important in any political process.

The Future of Advertising

Niche Marketing whereby individuals would be targeting specific regions or audience, owing to increased competition and increased uncertainties in business, would characterize future advertising. Through niche marketing, advertisers would be able to reach many people because this form of advertising would be targeting only a few individuals who would be showing potential interest to consume the goods or services of a particular company. In the past, the aim of many companies was to produce goods in mass and advertise the same goods to the entire public.

This system had several shortcomings because the advertiser would not track the usage of the good or service, the profiles of customers could not be established and it consumed many resources and time. Niche marketing is more efficient because it offers advertisers with a chance to define the market clearly. This would help them to come up with adverts that suit a particular market. In other words, niche marketing aims at changing the attitude of the consumer from being reactive to becoming proactive. In future, research would determine the effectiveness of any commercial advert. For any company to attempt to advertise its goods or service, it would first conduct a pre-test research to establish its effectiveness. This would be aimed at reducing the costs because some goods and services might be advertised but their sales would not increase.

This is always considered a loss to a firm. From the above analysis, it is true that advertising has undergone various stages, depending on the development of technology. Advertising depends on technology meaning that it changes with the changes in technology.

Before the internet age, the TV was the main medium of distributing information.


From the above analysis, it can be concluded that advertising is an important aspect in human life since it contributes to improvement of living standards. Advertising is known for shaping the way people interact, as well as creating mass awareness. As far as its development is concerned, the earlier advertisement channel was mainly the television, radio and the newspaper. Currently, advertisement depends on the internet as the major channel of passing information. Unlike in the past where producers of goods and services would produce in mass and advertisement later, the current producer targets specific markets based on advertisement response. In future, advertisement is projected to improve whereby producers would employ niche marketing.

Works Cited

Achbar, Mark. Manufacturing consent: Noam Chomsky and the media: the companion book to the award-winning film by Peter Wintonick and Mark Achbar. New York: Black Rose Books, 1994. Print. Cook, Guy.

The Discourse of Advertising. London: Routledge, 2001. Print. Graydon, Shari. Made You Look – How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know. Toronto: Annick Press, 2003. Print.

Habermas, Jurgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: an Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989. Print. Horkheimer, Max. Dialectic of Enlightenment. London: Allen Lane, 1973.

Print. Kleppner, Otto. Advertising Procedure. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1966. Print. Lears, Jackson. Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America.

New York: Basic Books, 1995. Print. Louw, Eric. The Media and Cultural Production. London: Sage Publications, 2001. Print.


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