(i) Advertising can reach mass markets, with great geographic spread very quickly. It is therefore known as the mass communication element of the communication mix. Due to this cost-per-contact is very low.
(ii) Can communicate the unique benefits of the product and its differential advantage over competitors.
(iii) Can influence attitudes and create interest and desire for a product.
(iv) It positions the brand at the desired slot in the consumers mind.
(v) Confers “legitimacy” on a product. There was a time when consumers believed that if a product was being advertised, then it was probably a legitimate product worth considering.
(vi) Can convey emotional benefits of the brand.
(vii) Can combat competitive claims, correct false impressions and misinformation.
(viii) Can build up inquiries for the product.
The limitations of advertising are:
(i) It is a monologue or a one way communication between company and customer. Despite the several methods used to measure advertising effectiveness, much of the real effect of advertising is long term. Target markets need to be repeatedly exposed to the advertising, for it to take effect.
(ii) Although cost-per-contact may be low, absolute ad spends required are very high, just for the message to be noticed. This is essentially due to the media and competitive clutter.
(iii) Advertising is seen as interfering with the consumers viewing, reading or listening experience, hence consumers tend to “zap” the advertising. There are devices today that enable consumers record their favorite TV shows minus the advertising. Whilst advertising can influence wants, it cannot change deeply rooted values and attitudes.
Major types of advertising
The firm’s communication objectives determine the type of advertising it uses.
1. Corporate institutional advertising promotes the company as a whole intended to establish, change or maintain company’s identity. It does not especially ask the target audience to do anything, but to be informed and maintain a favorable attitude towards the company and its products.
2. Product advertising on the other hand not only informs, but seeks to promote the benefit of using firm’s products.
3. Pioneering advertising is used at the introduction stage of the life cycle, when the company is aiming to create a primary demand for the product concept. Companies need explain the product concept, and establish the utility of the product. Consumers need to learn in-depth information about the product and need to see the product being demonstrated.
4. Competitive advertising is most appropriate during the growth stage of the life cycle, when a firm is trying to build demand for their brands. Advertising at this stage stresses differences between brands, so as to build brand preference. Comparative advertising directly or indirectly compares two or more competitive brands on specific attributes. Latter growth and maturity stages of the life cycles sees intense competition amongst players, and companies often resort to comparative advertising to directly attack a competitor. However companies need to be very careful about comparative advertising for two reasons. One, that it can attract a law suit from a competitor for unfair practices. Secondly, it actually provides the competitor a fair amount of mileage at no cost to the competitor.