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Advertising is the promotion of goods, services, companies and ideas, most often through paid messages.

Commercial messages have been found in the ruins of Pompeii, but the first advertising agency[?] was started by Volney Palmer[?] in Philadelphia in 1843.

Unpaid advertising can provide good exposure at minimal cost. Personal recommendations ("bring a friend", "sell it by zealot"), the unleashing of memes into the wild, or achieving the feat of equating a brand with a common noun ("Hoover[?]" = "vacuum cleaner") -- these must provide the stuff of fantasy to the holder of an advertising budget.

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Advertising media Some commercial advertising media include: billboards, printed flyers[?], radio, cinema and television ads, web banners, skywriting[?], bus stop benches, magazines, newspapers, town criers[?], sides of buses[?], taxi cab doors, elastic bands on disposable diapers, the opening section of streaming audio and video, and the backs of event tickets. 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[?].

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 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 million (as of 2003).

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. E-mail advertising is another recent phenomenon. Unsolicited 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 (see mind control), and the pervasiveness of mass messages (see propaganda).

Mind share Advertising ultimately seeks to establish what is called "mind share". Mind share is the status a brand can achieve when it co-exists with deeper, more empirical categories of objects. Kleenex, for example, can distinguish itself as a type of tissue. But, because it has gained mind share amongst consumers, it is frequently used as a term to identify any tissue, even if it is from an opposing brand. One of the most successful firms to have achieved this is Hoover (as mentioned above) whose name was for a very long time synonymous with vacuum cleaner (and Dyson[?] has subsequently managed to achieve similar status, having moved into the Hoover market with a more sophisticated model of vacuum cleaner).

Mind share can be established to a greater or lesser degree depending on product and market. In Texas, for example, it is common to hear people refer to any soft drink as a Coke, regardless of whether it is actually produced by Coca-Cola or not (the more accurate term would be 'cola').

A legal risk of mind share is that the name can become so widely accepted that it becomes a generic term, and loses trademark protection. Examples include "escalator", "xerox" and "mimeograph". 'Aspirin' is a special case -- the US government[?] took the trademark away from Bayer during the first World War, not because the term was being used generically, but as "enemy property," because Bayer is a German company.

Advertising Techniques Advertisers use several recognizable techniques in order to better convince the public to buy a product. These may include:

  • Repetition: Some advertisers concentrate on making sure their product is widely recognized. To that end, they simply attempt to make the name remembered through repetition.

  • Bandwagon: By implying that the product is widely used, advertisers hope to convince potential buyers to "get on the bandwagon."

  • Testimonials: Advertisers often attempt to promote the superior quality of their product through the testimony of ordinary users, experts, or both. "Three out of four dentists recommend..." This often involves an appeal to authority.

  • Pressure: By attempting to make people choose quickly and without long consideration, some advertisers hope to make rapid sales: "Buy now, before they're all gone!"

  • Association: Advertisers often attempt to associate their product with desirable things, in order to make it seem equally desirable. The use of attractive models, picturesque landscapes, and other similar imagery is common.

A popular belief among many segments of society is that subliminal messages are commonly used in advertising, though this is seen by experts as little more than an urban legend.

See also:

List of Marketing TopicsList of Management Topics
List of Economics TopicsList of Accounting Topics
List of Finance TopicsList of Economists

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