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DIFFERENT MEDIA ALTERNATIVES



Television. Television is a valuable medium because it communicates with both sight and sound. Print advertisements could never give you the sense of the Mazda RX-7 sports car cornering at the speed of sound. In addition, network television is the only medium that can reach 95 percent of the homes in the United States. Television's major disadvantage is cost: the cost of a prime-time 30-second network spot is now as much as $ 400, 000. Because of these high charges, there has been a growing trend toward reducing the length of the standard commercial from 30 seconds to 15 seconds. This practice, referred to as splitting 30's, reduces costs but severely restricts the amount of information that can be conveyed. These 15-second ads now represent a third of all network commercials. Another problem with television is the likelihood of wasted coverage – having people outside the market for the product see the advertisement. In recent years the cost and wasted coverage problems of TV have been reduced through the introduction of cable TV, whose advertising time is often less expensive than the prime time on major networks. This often allows far greater control over who sees the advertisement.

Radio. There are seven times as many radio stations as television stations in the United States. The major advantage of radio is it's a segmented medium. There is the Farm Radio Network, the Physician's Network, all-talk shows, and punk rock stations, all listened to by different market segments. The average college student is a surprisingly heavy radio listener and spends more time during the day listening to radio than watching television — 1 hour 56 minutes versus 1 hour 20 minute. So advertisers with college students as their target market must consider radio. The disadvantage of radio is that it has limited use for products that must be seen. Another problem is the ease with which consumers can tune out a commercial by switching stations. Radio is a medium that competes for people's attention as they do other activities such as driving, working, or relaxing. Peak radio listening time is during the drive times (6 to 10 am and 4 to 7 pm).

Magazines. One of the fastest-growing media in the United States is magazines. The marketing advantage of this medium is the great number of special interest publications that appeal to defined segments. Runners read Running, sailors buy Sail, gardeners peruse Organic Gardening, and craftspeople subscribe to Woodworking. Over 200 publications cater to the computer industry, and high-tech companies filled about one-fourth of the ad pages in Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, and Dun's. Each magazine's readers often represent a unique profile. So a manufacturer of ski equipment that places an ad in Rolling Stone may be reaching the desired target audience. In addition to the distinct audience profiles of magazines, good color production is an advantage. Rolling Stone has had a perception problem: many prospective advertisers in the magazine saw it as a magazine read only by 1960's-era hippies. To alter this misperception, it developed a series of "Perception-Reality" ads targeted at its prospective advertisers and ran them in magazines such as Advertising Age, which media buyers read. The advertising succeeded in increasing the number of pages of advertising sold in Rolling Stone. The cost of national magazines is a disadvantage compared with radio, but many national publications publish regional and even metro editions, which reduce the absolute cost and wasted coverage. Time publishes well over 100 different editions, ranging from a special edition for college students to a version for the area around Austin, Texas. In addition to cost, a limitation to magazines is their infrequency. At best, magazines are printed on a weekly basis, with many specialized publications appearing only monthly or less often. High technology is arriving in magazine ads. Cardboard pop-up ads have been used by Dodge tracks and Disney World. Toyota introduced its 1988 Corolla with a pair of 3-D glasses inserted in Time, People, and Cosmopolitan magazines. Revlon offered actual samples of eye shadow in fashion magazines, land if you read Architectural Digest, you could even smell a Rolls Royce leather interior using a special scent strip. What's on the horizon? Probably a music-land-blinking-light IBM PC magazine ad made possible by a computer micro-chip – an ad that has already run in France.

Newspapers. Newspapers are an important local medium with excellent reach and potential. Because of the daily publication of most papers, they allow advertisements directed to immediate consumer actions such as "sale today only." Usually local retailers use newspapers as almost their sole medium. Newspapers are rarely saved by the purchaser, so companies are generally limited to ads that call for an immediate customer response. But customers can clip and save ads they want. Companies also cannot depend on newspapers for color reproduction as good as that in most magazines. National companies rarely use this medium except in conjunction with local distributors of their products. In these instances both parties often share the advertising costs using a cooperative advertising program.

Direct Mail. Direct mail allows the greatest degree of audience
selectivity. Direct mail-companies can provide advertisers with mailing list of their market, such as students who live within 2 miles off the store, product managers in Texas, or people who own mobile homes. Direct mail has an advantage in providing complete product information, compared with that provided in 30-second or 50-second television or radio spots. One disadvantage of direct mail is that rising postal costs are making it more expensive. The major limitation is that people view direct mail as junk, and the challenge is to get them to open a letter.

Billboards. A very effective medium for reminder advertising is outdoor billboards. These signs often result in good reach and frequency when reinforcing a message originally communicated in other media. The visibility of this medium is good supplemental reinforcement for well-known products, and it is a relatively low-cost, flexible alternative. A company can buy space just in the desired geographical market. A disadvantage to billboards is that no opportunity exists for lengthy advertising copy, and thus it is restricted to well-known products. Also, a good billboard site depends on traffic patterns and sight lines. In many areas environmental laws have limited the use of this medium.

Transit. If you attend a metropolitan campus, chances are you might have seen some transit advertising. This medium includes messages on the interior and exterior of buses, subway cars, and taxis. As use of mass transit grows, transit advertising may become increasingly important. Selectivity is available to advertisers, who can buy space by neighborhood or bus route. To some extent, once inside the bus, the riders are captured readers. One disadvantage to this medium is that the heavy travel times, when the audiences are the largest, are not conducive to reading advertising copy. People are standing shoulder to shoulder on the subway, hoping not to miss their stop, and little attention is paid to the advertising. Also, the demographic profile of the transit user is heavily weighted to middle-class and lower middle-class people with average incomes and educational profiles.

Other Media. A variety of other media exist, ranging from the hot air balloons mentioned earlier to skywriting and theater advertising – where ads are shown in the screen before the movies are shown. Although you might expect to see advertisements before the movie in your local theater, do you expect to see them in the movie itself? Called product placement, the brand-name products used in a movie may be there because their manufacturer paid for the privilege. For example, Domino's Pizza paid $25,000 for its pizza to sit on the kitchen table between Tom Selleck and Ted Danson in the movie Three Men and a Baby. Ads are even starting to appear on the protective boxes covering rental VCR movies and at the start of the movies themselves – and would you believe? – on toilet stall doors!

 





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