As a form of media, advertising can be defined as a way of communicating to an audience in attempt to persuade them to take an action, such as to make a purchase. Modern advertising is usually based on research that is paid for by a company and targeted towards a specific group of people.
Advertising began to really develop during the 19th and 20th centuries when new forms of media were spreading. Innovations like the printing press allowed for advertisements to reach larger audiences. In today’s internet era, advertisers can now reach millions of viewers with online advertisement.
Even though we generally associate advertising with the targeted ad campaigns we have grown used to seeing, advertising can be much simpler than that. The earliest advertisements were signs hung over stores to let people know what service was associated with the business. Since many people were illiterate, the advertising would be simply a picture such as a boot for a shoe-makers shop.
As advertising began to develop into more complex mediums, an advertising theory grew. This theory established a series of steps that consumers must go through before they will take the desired action suggested in the advertisement. The first of the steps is simply awareness followed by knowledge, liking, preference, conviction, and the purchase (or other action).
There are many techniques used in advertising today ranging from sex appeal to fear tactics. Now, there are even companies which can monitor consumers’ subconscious brainwaves in order to determine an advertisement’s effectiveness.