Different Types of Advertising Methods and Media

Major Media Tactics Used in Modern Advertising to Reach Consumers

Times Square
Times Square. Getty Images

Advertising has evolved into a vastly complex form of communication, with literally thousands of different ways for a business to get a message to the consumer. Today's advertiser has a vast array of choices at his or her disposal. The Internet alone provides many of these, with the advent of branded viral videos, banners, advertorials, sponsored websites, branded chat rooms and so much more.

Here's what is currently available for your media arsenal:

 

Online Advertising (aka Digital)

If you see an advertisement via the Internet (World Wide Web), then it is classified as online advertising. In fact, there are ads on this very page, and most other websites you visit, as they are the primary revenue driver for the Internet. Another avenue of online advertising is "Native Advertising," which is the digital variation of the old print advertorials. And, sponsored content is growing by leaps and bounds. From ads on Facebook and SnapChat, to partnerships with Buzzfeed and Reddit, the fastest, easiest way to reach millions of potential customers is online. 
 

Cell Phone & Mobile Advertising

A relatively new form of advertising compared to the others, but one that's dominating the media mix, uses cell phones, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and other portable electronic devices with Internet connectivity. Current trends in mobile advertising involve major use of social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.

Right now, this is the toughest nut to crack. This kind of advertising is not only disruptive, but can leave the customers with a lot of ill will. If you do it, do it right. For a while, native advertising was a good way to get into the feed, but even that has come under scrutiny for being deceptive.

 
 

Print Advertising

Once a huge driver of sales, print is taking a back seat to the many digital forms of advertising now available to marketers. However, if there is one thing that's certain about advertising, it's that being different is good. And when consumers tire of digital ads, a return to printed pieces, and the tactile feeling and permanence they provide, is definitely on the cards. Typically, print can be split into three sub-categories:

  1. Periodical Advertising
    If it's in a magazine, a newspaper, or anything else that comes out at regular intervals, then it's periodical advertising (aka a print ad). For decades, print ads were the gold standard for advertisers and their clients. To grab the center spread of a big magazine, or the back cover of a newspaper, meant millions of people were seeing the message. 

  2. Brochures, Leaflets, Flyers, Handouts and Point of Sale Advertising
    Although some of these can be placed within the pages of newspapers and magazines, they are treated as a separate entity (usually because they have less chance of being seen). From something that sits on a counter or customer service desk, to a glossy car brochure, this is a more intimate, and long-form, way of engaging the consumer. Use this when you have more information than you can cram into a print ad. 

  1. Direct Mail Advertising
    Either of the techniques mentioned above can be incorporated into direct mail. It simply means that your printed pieces are mailed direct to the consumer. This is a technique that has been, and continues to be, abused by inferior marketing agencies that have turned the craft into "junk mail." Done right, direct mail can be a fantastic way to engage the customer, if it is creative and intelligently conceived and executed. Do not count it out. 

 

Guerrilla Advertising

Also known as ambient media, guerrilla advertising (or marketing) has become prominent over the last 20 years.

It is a broadly used term for anything unconventional, and usually invites the consumer to participate or interact with the piece in some way. Location is important, as is timing. The driving forces behind guerrilla advertising or marketing are creative ideas and innovation, not a large budget. Quite often, you will ask for forgiveness rather than permission with these campaigns, and they will spread via word of mouth and social media.
 

Broadcast Advertising

A mass-market form of communication including television and radio, broadcast advertising has, until recently, been the most dominant way to reach a large number of consumers. Broadcast advertising has really taken a beating over the last few years, especially with the rise of DVRs and "ad skipping" technology. However, it is still a popular way to reach millions of people, especially when the Super Bowl comes around. 
 

Outdoor Advertising

Also known as out-of-home (OOH) advertising, this is a broad term that describes any type of advertising that reaches the consumer when he or she is outside of the home. You will know it as billboards, bus shelter posters, fly posters, and even those big digital boards in Times Square. 
 

Public Service Advertising

Unlike traditional commercials, Public Service Advertisements (PSA) are primarily designed to inform and educate rather than sell a product or service. PSAs traditionally appear on TV and radio, but are also being heavily promoted online these days. 
 

Product Placement Advertising

In a nutshell, product placement is the promotion of branded goods and services within the context of a show or movie, rather than as an explicit advertisement. If you have ever seen a movie and wondered "wow, they sure are driving a lot of Ford cars in this scene," or "does everyone in this TV show drink Pepsi?" then you are noticing product placement. It's a way that these films and shows get funding, and is a great way for advertisers to reach a targeted demographic.