9 Important Characteristics of Effective Advertising

Advertising is a mix of three elements. Advertising must be crafted to be effective in stimulating consumer response and to do that art is necessary to captivate the audience of the advertisement. And it is a science because it is rule-based. There appears to be a lot of controversies on science versus art debate.

People who think advertising is an art say that the basic purpose of advertising is persuasion and “persuasion is not a science, but an art” But the other school led by Hopkins has more appeal to managers, sets up advertising as something that can be controllable, capable of rationalization and objective management, and ultimately freed from risk. Hopkins understood that the promise of rules, control, and elimination of risk appeal more to most managers than any other creative platform.

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Philip Kotler and a large band of academia also think that it is rational in its assumptions about human behaviour and strongly positivist in its epistemology. It involves both efficiency and effectiveness: Efficiency refers to the ratio of benefits from advertising to its cost; Effectiveness refers to the achievement of goals.

4. Advertising is Non-personal:

The various media are the non-personal channels of communication that people have invented and used and continue to use. These include newspapers, magazines, radio, television, billboards, transit cards, sandwich boards, skywriting, posters, anything that aids communicating in a non-personal way, ideas from one person or group to another person or group.

They do not include people talking to each other: first, talking is personal and advertising is non-personal; and second, there is no way to use people talking to each other for advertising-word-of-mouth is not an advertising medium, since you can’t control what is said. (The best you could do is start a rumour, which will undoubtedly distort the message in the telling, and it is more the province of the PR department).

However, the increased use of facebook, blogs, and twitter has converted advertising from monologue to dialogue. Most of the big firms have made use of them to talk with the consumers. Consumers give their feedback.

5. Identified Sponsor:

The source of advertising is known. Identified sponsors mean who- so-ever is putting out the ad tells the audience who they are. There are two reasons for this: first, it’s a legal requirement, and second, it makes a good sense.

Legally, a sponsor must identify herself as the sponsor of an ad. This prevents the audience from getting a misleading idea about the ad or its contents. For example, many ads that appear in newspapers look like news articles: same typeface, appearance, use of columns, etc. If the ad is not identified as such, the audience could perceive it as news about a product, rather than an attempt to persuade the audience to buy it.

For example, an article that looks like a news article discusses a weight-loss plan. In a journalistic style it talks about the safety, efficacy, and reasonable price of the product. A reasonable person might perceive the “article” as having been written by a reporter who had investigated weight-loss programmes and decided to objectively discuss this particular one. Such a perception is misleading, and illegal. Since it is an ad, somewhere on it there must appear the word “advertisement” to ensure the audience does not think it is an objective reporting of news.

Second, it makes good sense for a sponsor to identify herself in the ad. If the sponsor doesn’t, it is possible for the audience to believe the ad is for a competitor’s product, thus wasting all the time, creativity and money that went into making and placing the ad.

The advertising information which comes from a company, organisation or association, also contains the company’s logo, address, and telephone, e-mail, etc., which are identified as part of the message. Anybody or everybody cannot come out with an advertised message. It should come from a publicly functioning and registered body. Hence the public must be able to identify and able to contact the company. In fact the whole idea of advertising is to establish contact between the advertiser and the prospective consumer. This contact is the desired end of an advertiser.

6. Persuasive:

“Persuasive”stands to reason as part of the definition of advertising. The basic purpose of advertising is to identify and differentiate one product from another in order to persuade the consumer to buy that product in preference to another. The purpose of this book is to discuss some basic elements of persuasion

7. Paid for:

“Paid for” is pretty straightforward. If an ad is created and placed in the media, the costs of creation and time or space in the media must be paid for. This is a major area in which advertising departs from public relations.

PR seeks to place information about companies and/or products in the media without having to pay for the time or space. PR creates news releases and sends them to news media in hopes they will be run. Often PR departments produce events that will be covered by the news media and thus receive space or time. There is no guarantee that the media will run any of the PR material.

Advertising doesn’t have that problem. If time or space is bought in the media, the ads (as long as they follow the guidelines set down for good taste, legal products and services, etc.) will appear. The drawback is that ads are clearly designed to extol the virtues of products and companies, and any ad is perceived by consumers as at least partly puffery. PR pieces are usually not so perceived.

8. Controlled:

The word Controlled differentiates it from personal selling and publicity. A door-to-door salesperson or a reporter who takes personal interest in giving publicity to a product of service may at times indulge in an uncontrolled exercise of his imagination. But advertisers cannot say anything in an uncontrolled manner. Advertisers have to decide about all aspects of their advertisement in terms of what and how much the public should know about a product or service.

Another form of controlling aspect is that the mass mediated advertising message has a certain length and format. It cannot take unlimited space or time. And since both advertisers and advertising agencies are formal organizations, their personnel follow accepted rules and regulations in their operations and mutual dealings. Representatives from both the organizations meet several times and arrive at decisions regarding the duration, length, and frequency. This is another aspect of controlling.

9. Mass Media:

There is involvement of Mass Media in advertising. Mass communication is different from communication as it occurs between large, heterogeneous and anonymous group of people (although we know of the qualities of target audience). Mass mediated messages are not only rapid but transient and ‘non-personal’. Several messages from different sources bombard the senses of the receivers every hour. That is why advertisers want to create unforgettable and easily memorable messages so that at least a part of the message is absorbed by the potentials, the message must catch the attention, create interest and desire and motivate to act.