Advertising’s Role in Contemporary Society

What role does advertising play in the contemporary society? Also explain its advantages and disadvantages.

Advertising’s Role in Contemporary Society:

Advertising is paid publicity. It is a commercial message that offers a product or a service for sale. It is controlled and paid for, by the initiator, at the rates set by the medium used. Advertising may appear in any of the standard medium, such as newspaper, magazine, radio, TV, bill board, or handbill. Usually the name of the product, its description and price is highlighted in the advertisement. In the last few years, the influence of advertisements has grown to this noticeable extent that any medium of communication nowadays is replete with advertising.

We people belong to a global village where everyone known about others and the news of latest happenings spread throughout the world within short span of time. So the innate desire of the man to get socialized now takes place through the modern technological aids like computer, internet, dish, cable, radio etc. through which awareness and knowledge is gained. All of our daily aspects of life – education, work, health, entertainment to relationships, travel etc all require information and direction which is now available through media where every common person checks TV, newspapers for updates, or uses internet. So this all clutter has a silent impact on the society e.g. it is a known fact that on an average scale, a child is exposed to about 40K ads a year.

Advertising by its very nature receives wide exposure. Furthermore, it presumably has an effect on what people buy and thus on their activities. The key issues are values and lifestyles are to be encouraged as healthy, which to be avoided, and what relative impact or influence advertising has on them. The issues like (1) relationship of advertising to materialism, (2) role that advertising has played in creating harmful stereotypes of women and ethnic minorities, and (3) possible contribution of advertising in promoting harmful product; have been seen.

People are giving an undue importance to material interests. There is a corresponding lessening of importance to non-material interests such as love, freedom and intellectual pursuits. The accusation that advertising have contributed to the role stereo typing of women and ethnic minorities has been supported by several studies. In 729 advertisements, appearing in 1970, the authors concluded that the ads reflected the stereotype that women do not do important things and are dependent on men. And in addition, there is a national concern with the problems of alcohol and cigarettes. Local legislatures have increased taxes to around 45% of total alcohol sales and toughened drunk-driving laws. Happy hours have been banned in several states.

However besides these silent impacts, the practical benefits of advertising are:-

Economy: Generation of new jobs – higher incomes, comfortable and humane way of living.

Culture: Contributes positively in decisions about media content for betterment in society.

Politics: Significant contribution for informing people about candidates and the party etc.

Moral and religion: Faith messages etc.


Advantages and Disadvantages:

  • The advertisement informs the consumer about qualities and price of goods and this makes purchasing easy for the consumers.
  • As the prices are already advertised, the consumers cannot be over charged.
  • By regular advertisement, the manufacturer can sell the goods directly to the consumers without depending on middlemen this eliminates the Middleman’s charges and profit. It means higher profit to the manufacturer and lower prices to the consumers.
  • It helps in improvement of the quality of the goods.
  • The consumers are attracted by the quality of the products that are advertised. If the consumers are convinced that the quality is the same that is advertised, they continue buying.
  • It helps the consumer to save time. As the consumer has already been the consumer is not required to spend time in getting the products.
  • It raises the living standard of consumers.
  • It provides knowledge about the new designs of the commodities to consumers and thus consumers consume those commodities and increase their living standard.


Newspapers are one of the traditional mediums used by businesses, both big and small alike, to advertise their businesses.


  • Allows you to reach a huge number of people in a given geographic area
  • You have the flexibility in deciding the ad size and placement within the newspaper
  • Your ad can be as large as necessary to communicate as much of a story as you care to tell
  • Exposure to your ad is not limited; readers can go back to your message again and again if so desired.
  • Free help in creating and producing ad copy is usually available
  • Quick turn-around helps your ad reflect the changing market conditions. The ad you decide to run today can be in your customers’ hands in one to two days.


  • Ad space can be expensive
  • Your ad has to compete against the clutter of other advertisers, including the giants ads run by supermarkets and department stores as well as the ads of your competitors
  • Poor photo reproduction limits creativity
  • Newspapers are a price-oriented medium; most ads are for sales
  • Expect your ad to have a short shelf life, as newspapers are usually read once and then discarded.
  • You may be paying to send your message to a lot of people who will probably never be in the market to buy from you.
  • Newspapers are a highly visible medium, so your competitors can quickly react to your prices
  • With the increasing popularity of the Internet, newspapers face declining readership and market penetration. A growing number of readers now skip the print version of the newspaper (and hence the print ads) and instead read the online version of the publication.


Magazines are a more focused, albeit more expensive, alternative to newspaper advertising. This medium allows you to reach highly targeted audiences.


  • Allows for better targeting of audience, as you can choose magazine publications that cater to your specific audience or whose editorial content specializes in topics of interest to your audience.
  • High reader involvement means that more attention will be paid to your advertisement
  • Better quality paper permits better color reproduction and full-color ads
  • The smaller page (generally 8 ½ by 11 inches) permits even small ads to stand out


  • Long lead times mean that you have to make plans weeks or months in advance
  • The slower lead time heightens the risk of your ad getting overtaken by events
  • There is limited flexibility in terms of ad placement and format.
  • Space and ad layout costs are higher


Yellow Pages:

There are several forms of Yellow Pages that you can use to promote and advertise your business. Aside from the traditional Yellow Pages supplied by phone companies, you can also check out specialized directories targeted to specific markets (e.g. Hispanic Yellow Pages, Blacks, etc.); interactive or consumer search databases; Audiotex or talking yellow pages; Internet directories containing national, local and regional listings; and other services classified as Yellow Pages.


  • Wide availability, as mostly everyone uses the Yellow Pages
  • Non-intrusive
  • Action-oriented, as the audience is actually looking for the ads
  • Ads are reasonably inexpensive
  • Responses are easily tracked and measured
  • Frequency


  • Pages can look cluttered, and your ad can easily get lost in the clutter
  • Your ad is placed together with all your competitors
  • Limited creativity in the ads, given the need to follow a pre-determined format
  • Ads slow to reflect market changes




  • Radio is a universal medium enjoyed by people at one time or another during the day, at home, at work, and even in the car.
  • The vast array of radio program formats offers to efficiently target your advertising dollars to narrowly defined segments of consumers most likely to respond to your offer.
  • Gives your business personality through the creation of campaigns using sounds and voices
  • Free creative help is often available
  • Rates can generally be negotiated
  • During the past ten years, radio rates have seen less inflation than those for other media


  • Because radio listeners are spread over many stations, you may have to advertise simultaneously on several stations to reach your target audience
  • Listeners cannot go back to your ads to go over important points
  • Ads are an interruption in the entertainment. Because of this, a radio ad may require multiple exposure to break through the listener’s “tune-out” factor and ensure message retention
  • Radio is a background medium. Most listeners are doing something else while listening, which means that your ad has to work hard to get their attention



  • Television permits you to reach large numbers of people on a national or regional level in a short period of time
  • Independent stations and cable offer new opportunities to pinpoint local audiences
  • Television being an image-building and visual medium, it offers the ability to convey your message with sight, sound and motion


  • Message is temporary, and may require multiple exposure for the ad to rise above the clutter
  • Ads on network affiliates are concentrated in local news broadcasts and station breaks
  • Preferred ad times are often sold out far in advance
  • Limited length of exposure, as most ads are only thirty seconds long or less, which limits the amount of information you can communicate
  • Relatively expensive in terms of creative, production and airtime costs

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