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Classification of advertising

Technological advancement has redefined the channels through which advertisers reach their audience but the concept remains the same. Whether it is through the internet or mainstream offline media, advertising is still a paid form of non-personal communication of goods and services to the audience through a medium by an identified sponsor. This process happens in different ways or categories which is what we are looking at here by discussing classification of advertising.

Advertising could be viewed from different perspectives or classes. Arens and Bovee (1994) cited in Nwabueze (2006) identify four basic criteria upon which advertising classification could be premised – target audience, geographic area, medium, and purpose.

Target audience-oriented classification

This entails approaching advertising based on those that the advert messages are aimed -target audience. It could be consumer advertising where the advert message is targeted at people that purchase the product for personal use. It could also be business advertising where the advert message is aimed at manufacturers of different kinds, trade and professional groups. While the bulk of advert in the mass media are consumer advertising, majority of business advertising is contained in specialized publications such as trade, professional, industrial and other business publications.

Under the category of business advertising exists industrial advertising aimed at those who purchase industrial goods or influence such action; trade advertising used to activate, stimulate or improve sales of a product through creation of more sales outlets or stock more of a product; professional advertising targeted at people in particular professions such as lawyers, doctors, journalists, teachers etc. in order to encourage them to use the products or recommend their usage, among other reasons.


Geographic area-oriented classification

This is based on an advertiser’s trading environment or location of majority of the advertiser’s target audience members. The type of advertising here could be local, regional, national or international advertising. The message content of the advert is structured such that it will appeal to people in a given neighborhood or city. The medium adopted for such advert has to be commonly available and accessible to the audience in the target locality. For example, Glo a telecommunication service provider localizes adverts on billboards using local languages in specific geographic areas.

Where the advert is aimed at people in the east, west or any region, regional advertising technique is adopted. If the audience could be found in any part of the country or the product is meant for consumers of various cultures or in various parts of the country, national advertising is adopted. Where foreign audience or foreign markets are the target, international advertising is adopted. In each case, the advertiser uses elements that would facilitate creation of an advert message which would make meaningful impact on the target audience.


Medium-oriented classification

This consists of classification of advertising based on the channel through which it is passed across to the audience. The medium being referred to here has to be paid for. It could be print advertising – use of newspapers, magazines and other print media; broadcast advertising – use of radio, and television; out-of-home advertising – use of outdoor media (bill boards, posters, spectaculars), and transit media (taxis, buses); direct mail advertising – use of electronic or surface mail to send advert messages to target audience members. The target audience is always considered in the choice of medium or combination of media used in advertising. Nwosu and Nkamnebe (2006) write that advertising without a target audience in mind is like a ship without destination, and that most of the time and money spent on such advertisements are wasted. Considering the audience before media selection facilitates achievement of advertising objectives.

Purpose-oriented classification

The objective for which an advert message is packaged could be the basis for classification of advertising. The purpose or objective could be to promote an entire organization by building the advert message around an organization’s mission or philosophy – corporate advertising or institutional advertising. The advertiser’s objective could be to promote a product with the intention of making profit – commercial advertising – or to seek philanthropic support for non-profit organizations – non-commercial advertising.

Advertising has also been classified in terms of expected consumer response (Rapp and Collins cited in Arens andBovee, 1994, p. 12). In this category, the promotional communication process could be action or awareness advertising. Action advertising basically aims at bringing about immediate response from the audience while awareness advertising is done with the intention of making the audience aware of the benefits of a new product and exposing the audience to a message that could stimulate interest and willingness to purchase a product.

Bitner (1989, p.213) cited in Nwabueze (2006) categorizes advertising as follows: standard advertising which is the most common type of advertising aimed at creating in the consumer the desire for a product or service, for a fee paid by the advertiser; public service advertising which is done at media cost to build support for non-profit causes and organizations such as humanitarian organizations, fund drive for disaster victims, public enlightenment campaigns etc; counter-advertising which could be done to reverse a false claim made in a specific advert message or simply stop the spread of a deceptive product or advert message; advocacy advertising often sponsored by organizations as a social responsibility to the society. This type of advertising is used in raising awareness on conditions or product usage that may negatively affect consumers or public welfare, or simply calling for adoption of a specific course of action in the interest of the public. Examples are adverts warning against dangers of excessive smoking, promoting the need to drive safely, or warning that condom usage is not hundred percent safe against HIV; image advertising used by organizations to promote their image by emphasizing their works in the society; municipal and state advertising used to promote a city, community or an entire state as a place to relax, live, enjoy life, work or have investments.

(Source: Basics of Advertising, second edition, 2020; written by Nwabueze, C.) Get this book at universitybooksng. com


About Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a writer with passion for cutting-edge news

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