Paying people to hold signs is one of the oldest forms of advertising, as with this Human directional pictured above
Commercial advertising media can include wall paintings, billboards (outdoor advertising), street furniture components, printed flyers, radio, cinema and television ads, web banners, web popups, skywriting, bus stop benches, magazines, newspapers, town criers, sides of buses, taxicab doors and roof mounts, musical stage shows, subway platforms and trains, elastic bands on disposable diapers, stickers on apples in supermarkets, the opening section of streaming audio and video, and the backs of event tickets and supermarket receipts. Any place an “identified” sponsor pays to deliver their message through a medium is advertising.
Covert advertising embedded in other entertainment media is known as product placement. A more recent version of this is advertising in film, by having a main character use an item or other of a definite brand – an example is in the movie Minority Report, where Tom Cruise’s character Tom Anderton owns a computer with the Nokia logo clearly written in the top corner, or his watch engraved with the Bulgari logo. Another example of advertising in film is in I, Robot, where main character played by Will Smith mentions his Converse shoes several times, calling them “classics,” because the film is set far in the future.
The TV commercial is generally considered the most effective mass-market advertising format and this is reflected by the high prices TV networks charge for commercial airtime during popular TV events. The annual Super Bowl football game in the United States is known as much for its commercial advertisements as for the game itself, and the average cost of a single thirty-second TV spot during this game has reached $2.5 million (as of 2006).
Virtual advertisements may be inserted into regular television programming through computer graphics. It is typically inserted into otherwise blank backdrops or used to replace local billboards that are not relevant to the remote broadcast audience. More controversially, virtual billboards may be inserted into the background where none existing in real-life. Virtual product placement is also possible.
Increasingly, other mediums such as those discussed below are overtaking television due to a shift towards consumer’s usage of the Internet as well as devices such as TiVo.
Advertising on the World Wide Web is a recent phenomenon. Prices of Web-based advertising space are dependent on the “relevance” of the surrounding web content and the traffic that the website receives.
E-mail advertising is another recent phenomenon. Unsolicited bulk E-mail advertising is known as “spam”.
Some companies have proposed to place messages or corporate logos on the side of booster rockets and the International Space Station. Controversy exists on the effectiveness of subliminal advertising, and the pervasiveness of mass messages.
A DBAG Class 101 with UNICEF ads at Ingolstadt main railway station
Unpaid advertising (also called word of mouth advertising), can provide good exposure at minimal cost. Personal recommendations (“bring a friend”, “sell it by zealot”), spreading buzz, or achieving the feat of equating a brand with a common noun (“Xerox” = “photocopier”, “Kleenex” = tissue, “Vaseline” = petroleum jelly, “Kotex” = tampons, “Maxi pads” = sanitary napkins, “Scotch Tape” = Clear Tape, “Band-aid” = bandage, “Visine” = eye drops, “Q-tips” = cotton swabs, “Rollerblades” = inline skates) — these must provide the stuff of fantasy to the holder of an advertising budget.
The most common method for measuring the impact of mass media advertising is the use of the rating point (rp) or the more accurate target rating point (trp). These two measures refer to the percentage of the universe of the existing base of audience members that can be reached by the use of each media outlet in a particular moment in time. The difference between the two is that the rating point refers to the percentage to the entire universe while the target rating point refers to the percentage to a particular segment or target. This becomes very useful when focusing advertising efforts on a particular group of people. For example, think of an advertising campaign targeting a female audience aged 25 to 45. While the overall rating of a TV show might be well over 10 rating points it might very well happen that the same show in the same moment of time is generating only 2.5 trps (being the target: women 25-45). This would mean that while the show has a large universe of viewers it is not necessarily reaching a large universe of women in the ages of 25 to 45 making it a less desirable location to place an ad for an advertiser looking for this particular demographic.
A bus with an advertisement for GAP in Singapore. Buses and other vehicles are popular mediums for advertisers.