In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Meaning of Advertising Media 2. Types of Advertising Media 3. Factor Considerations 4. Advertising Media in India.

Meaning of Advertising Media:

Advertising media are the devices by which and through which the advertising messages are transmitted by the advertisers to the prospective and existing customers. The message regarding the product or service is passed on to the consumers or persons concerned through the media.

In advertising, media are the facilitating functions and constitute an industry. Media are the carriers of message of an advertiser whose aim is to reach to the public so that he and his product or service may come to the knowledge of the public and in turn public may turn to him and his product or service.

Types of Advertising Media:

There are large varieties or types of advertising media or channels for advertising. And for each channel there are sub-varieties, e.g., newspaper is a channel or medium but there are varieties of newspapers printed in different languages in a country like India having 18 recognised languages. It is, thus, a difficult task to choose the media because of alternatives.


The different types or classes of advertising media together with their relative merits and demerits are discussed below:

Types of Advertising Media

1. Outdoor Advertising (Printed Media):

(A) Press:

It is one of the most important and popular media. The word Press is a collective word meaning different types of newspapers and periodicals and particularly the newspapers. Daily newspapers and week­lies have largest circulations and so are the best media for advertising for consumer goods. But all newspapers are not of equal standard or value.


The following factors are taken into consideration before making selections:

(a) The circulation;

(b) The nature of readers who read it;

(c) The nature of advertisements which are generally published;


(d) The get-up, quality of paper and printing, the number of colours used, etc. and

(e) The rates of publication of advertisements.

The merits of newspapers as media are great because of the following reasons:

(a) Through newspapers the advertisements can reach the largest number of people.


(b) The cost of advertisement is comparatively cheap.

(c) People speaking different languages can be specifically approached through different language newspapers,

(d) The advertising copy can be regularly changed for new excitements,

(e) Daily repetitions (if, of course, the budget permits) create a lasting effect.


But there are demerits too:

(a) Newspapers have purely temporary value. The newspaper of today has no value tomorrow.

(b) People very often read newspapers casually and leisu­rely and so many advertisements, unless they are very attractive, miss the attention,

(c) There is no effect unless there are repetitions which is a costly affair,


(d) The greatest drawback is that newspapers have no appeal for the illiterate people.

The periodicals or magazines or journals, are also very useful media. There are different types of periodicals according to their periodicities, e.g., quarterly, bi-monthly, monthly, fortnightly, weekly, etc. Some periodicity suit some product. Again periodicals are often of special types, e.g., science journals, sports journals, film journals, political journals, literary journals, etc.

They have different classes of readers for them and specific journals are selected for specific products. The advertisement of a specific medicine shall have best effect in medical journals. Some big firms publish their own magazines which are called “house magazines”.

The importance of periodicals is established because of the following reasons:


(a) Good periodicals are very often preserved,

(b) Periodicals are read for a number of days,

(c) Periodicals have specialisation,

(d) Periodicals are published in more varieties of languages,

(e) Same periodi­cals have world-wide circulation, e.g., ‘Time’.

But there are limitations too:


(a) Periodicals are meant for educated people.

(b) The circulations are not very high generally.

(B) Posters, Handbills, etc.:

Posters are printed and stuck on walls or specified frames like Kiosks. Kiosks are boxes fixed on lamp posts. Posters can be made very colourful and bright as well as of very big size (generally a picture is printed part by part and then pasted toge­ther).

Handbills are printed in small sizes and are distributed directly on the streets or at the gates of some institutions or play houses or other establishments. Posters are very much used at railway stations, street crossing, inside cinema halls and restaurants and such other public places.


Importance and limitations:

(a) Posters have some lasting value,

(b) They are attractive because pictures and colours are used and now-a-days shining fluorescent ink creates further attractions,

(c) But handbills have purely temporary value,

(d) It is very difficult to reach very large number of persons through handbills,

(e) Posters can be seen by large number of people.


(f) But large number of posters have to be stuck,

(g) Printing of pesters is a costly affair.

(C) Labels and Calendars, etc.:

Printing of labels on match­boxes, stamping of some messages on envelops together with the franking, i.e., use of mechanical postage stamps, and calendars are very common media now-a-days. These are good for their novelties but cannot have very wide circulation.

2. Outdoor Advertising (Non-Printed Media):

(A) Cinema:

Cinema has become a very popular and useful medium of advertising in recent times. Cinema can be used in two ways:


(i) Exhibition of slides during the interval time or prior to the show.

(ii) Short films or cartoons can be prepared with a story, consisting of generally one reel.

The importance and limitations are as follows:

(a) This is a very effective medium because it has a double effect—audiovisual, i.e., hearing and seeing in case of film reels,

(b) The Government prepares docu­mentary films for mass publicity and education,

(c) It is effective on illiterate people also.



(i) It has limited appeal and only to cinema- goers only,

(ii) People very often lock at such publicity materials casually as the mind remains occupied with the main film.

(iii) Some people do not like to waste time and avoid the advertisements as they have come to cinema purely for entertainment.

(E) Exhibitions and Fairs:

Holding of exhibitions and fairs are very powerful and well-organised media for publicity in recent times. Exhibitions are purely commercial or educative while a fair is a wider term which means exhibition of products and in addition there is scope for sales and also for other entertainments.

Exhibitions and fairs are generally organised by some trade associations or specialised institutes or by the Government itself, or by Government agencies like export promotion councils.

Occasionally international or world fairs are organised either by a country inviting others or by international organisations. Special exhibitions may be held in connection with sore special conference.

The importance and limitations of such media are:

(a) Exhibi­tions and fairs have direct appeal to the potential buyers as the products are exhibited. Even heavy machines are exhibited at special fairs,

(b) The buyers and sellers can meet and hold discussions in the conferences held along with the exhibition and fairs. This is more common at international exhibitions and fairs.


(i) Holding of exhibitions and fairs need tremendous organisational work,

(ii) Huge capital is necessary to organise large- size arid purposeful exhibitions and fairs though there is scope of income from letting out stalls,

(c) The success depends on proper timing and proper selection of site.

(F) Hoardings:

Advertisement is commonly done by making structures to hold some big display boards made of durable materials on which paintings are made for advertising with pictures, slogans, cartoons etc. Some good sites are selected on broad streets or crossings or by the side of railway lines. Various kinds of colourful lights like neon-signs or fluorescent lights, either fixed or moving, are used to draw attention during nights.

The importance and limitations:

These are very effective in local areas and often enhance the goodwill of the firms. But their scope is very limited.

(G) Radio and Television:

Perhaps the most popular media for indoor publicity are the radio and the television. There are world-wide network of radio and television systems through which publicity is carried out. The Government utilises these mass media for publicity and education. Generally, radio and television are directly controlled by the Government.

The importance and limitations are:

(a) These have perhaps the greatest individual approach value.

(b) These media, particularly the radio, can be highly effective even in remote areas as transistors are used which do not need any electricity,

(c) People can hear the radio while doing other work. This is more applicable to workers in factories and the housewives,

(d) These are effective on the illiterate buyers too.


(i) Such publicity is comparatively expensive,

(ii) T.V. is till now too costly for ordinary people in countries like India,

(iii) The effectiveness largely depends on the development of the systems by the Government.

(H) Point of sale publicity:

Generally, the publicity is carr­ied out by different media away from the selling points. But there are some points of sale publicity methods, e.g., Window display. Manufacturers, wholesalers and most retailers organise showrooms with delightful and colourful decorations with showcases where products are exhibited (window display). Signboards with colourful lights, neon-signs, etc. attract people in the night time.

The importance and limitations are:

(a) Once people are attrac­ted by window display there will be immediate effect.

(b) There are endless novelties in the art of window display using mannequins (full human size dolls) and even living show-girls (as found in Western countries). But window display has purely local appeal and is effective only when a showroom has good frontage.

3. Indoor Advertising:

(I) Direct mailing:

Catalogues, price-lists, bulletins, folders, circulars, etc., are sent to ‘customers or potential customers directly by post at some regular intervals. Manufacturers and wholesalers and even big retailers like departmental stores send such materials and in case of manufacturers the materials can be sent either to actual consumers or to dealers or to wholesalers and by big wholesalers to retailers.

A mailing list has to be carefully prepared and regularly updated with necessary changes. Sometimes some ‘special offers’ with special discounts or gifts are offered by way of sales promotion if orders are placed within a speci­fied date.

A mailing list is prepared by consulting different trade direc­tories, telephone directory, civil list (i.e., the list of Government ser­vants), etc. Direct mailing is very useful for Mail Order business.

The importance of direct mailing can be realised because of the following advantages:

(a) There is a direct approach to the selected buyers with more effective and direct appeal.

(b) It is less costly than press advertisements.

(c) The readers can read materials leisurely.

(d) It supplements general advertisement.

(e) The products can be described more clearly and adequately and with pictures,

(f) It develops a personal touch with the potential buyers which has a great psychological impact.

But direct mailing has the following limitations:

(a) By this method only a limited number of buyers can be approached.

(b) It is not possible to use direct mailing for all kinds of products.

(c) It is difficult to prepare the mailing list correctly and exhaustively and to keep it updated with necessary changes caused by death, retirement, removal etc.

(d) The method is not really economic and often leads to heavy expenses.

Factor Considerations in Selecting the Best Adverti­sing Media:

Perhaps it is more important to select the media or channels through which the message will be communicated. Media selection is a specia­list’s job and advertising agencies are experts in these directions.

The choice of suitable media depends on three basic factors as listed below:

1. The nature of product or services:

Whether the products relate to the consumers or producers or industries, and whether the services are meant for transmitting a social message.

2. The nature of potential buyers:

This requires an analysis and un­derstanding of the likes, dislikes, preferences, habits, attitudes and socio-economic status of the buyers.

3. The budget and cost factors:

This requires the consideration of the cost of the media in relation to: the amount of funds available for advertising; and the circulation of the media. While a large manufacturer can allocate large funds for advertising in the T.V., a medium or small firm having limited funds for advertising has to choose newspapers.

Further, the advertiser should also try to ascertain a relationship between the cost of the medium selected and the circulation thereof in order to gauge the ‘cost per contact’.

In addition to the above factors, the advertiser should keep in mind the criteria of:

(i) The number of persons influenced,

(ii) The class of persons influenced,

(iii) The conditions under which the persons are influenced,

(iv) The nature of competition, and

(v) The type of advertising message.

According to Maheswari, Tripathy, and Verma, the central idea of adver­tisement must not be lost sight of while making a choice of a medium. They suggest consideration of the factors of pride, comfort, beauty, health, economy, etc., in the selection of particular medium.

Advertising Media in India:

In India illiteracy and rural background of people are barriers to effective advertising media selection unlike advanced countries. Even then, outdoor advertising placards or sign- beards, cinema slides and radio broadcasting play significant role.

In recent years, of course, television has become an important medium for advertisements of products as well as social or political messages not only in the cities and towns but also in the rural areas.

While selecting a particular newspaper or a magazine, one has to consi­der its readership, cost, usage, frequency, popularity and language. In India, since literacy is low, regional vernacular newspapers and magazines are usually selected which are popular among lower middle class.

Further, popular English newspapers such as Hindu, Indian Express, Deccan Herald, Hindustan Times are also extensively used media. The ‘Sunday’ issues are given preference by the advertisers since the reader will have leisure to read than more seriously.

Again, magazines such as Business India, Busi­ness Standard, Business World are meant for business executives and profe­ssionals and high status seeking people. Much more than cost, the overall impact, frequency, and target audience are important.

Selection of advertising media is a difficult task in India since there is no definite information. Hence many markets depend on their own experience, judgement, demographic characteristics and geographic location.

Sometimes the companies switch back and forth among the media because of change of advertising copy and want to emphasize the quality of products. But in recent years, advertising agencies suggest T.V. as it is a visual display of new look products.

Media coverage is an important point because it refers to the range of audience. Of late, the advertising agencies emphasize ‘media schedule’ i.e., how to run advertising in each media for the duration of campaign. They also advise that advertising should be based on the study of ‘generic vs. selective demand’ of products.

The first one refers to the sale of total product category and the second refers to the sale of company’s own brand. Often advertising aims at both because unless the first one is taken care of, the second does not succeed.

For example, if a textile company wants to advertise its fine suiting’s it must show how well-dressed a young man wall look like. How he would look on special occasions? Here, ‘a fine suit’ is a generic product and ‘a well-dressed young man’ is selective advertising.

To cite another example, Glaxo Company advertises “Complan” beverage emphasizing:

(i) Generic features of the product i.e. the need for nutritive food value to compensate loss of energy of a person and

(ii) Selective campaign i.e. how Camplan would fulfill this need better than others.

Some Indian companies consider ‘opinion leaders’ whose opinion is considered very important in persuading prospective consumers to buy the product.

Thus, Godrej and Hindustan Lever use the testimonial of ‘film stars’ who use the soap of a particular quality to emphasize the popularity of that quality. Newspapers and magazines are chosen by them as the media because the products can be made appealing to young men and women in this way.

One advertising specialist opines that there is a close relationship between technology and life style. In the early ’70s, print industry i.e. ‘press’ was the dominant advertising medium supported by radio and/or cinema. In absence of any viable alternative medium, consumers were involved with the ‘press’.

With the advent of the ‘magazine’ boom, consumers had more choice and so also advertisers, but it had limited impact as it was catering to more or less homogeneous groups of people dictated by language, style and content. The real challenge in the media planning came in 1984 when the ‘Television’ flung open its doors.

The advertisers were quick to take advantage as the consumers exercised a clear preference for this medium. The ‘radio’, while the forerunner as a medium, did not have the same impact. Cinema viewership began to drop sharply and the radio listenership began moving to T.V. viewing.

In other words, the consumer product advertising has moved away from ‘press’ to T.V. Being a truly mass medium, the T.V. draws viewership from all strata of society.

The use of T.V. for advertisements is fundamentally dictated by consumer preferences for it and the creative possibilities that it allows.

A table is presented below indicating the urban coverage’s in percentages for each of the media of press, T.V., cinema, and radio:

Urban Coverage

During the period of five years (1986 to 1990), there had been some major shifts in the choice of advertising media for several groups of pro­ducts in India. The block diagrams for three product groups are shown below to highlight the media shifts, from press to T.V.

The consumers boom in the ’90s has been attributed primarily to TV. This also implies that TV has better pulling power than press for brands.