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Know how Advertising Works

Advertising is a very complex business. As you have already seen, a range of diverse activities are involved. It calls for a variety of disciplines. There are different organizations involved. There are probably few activities or businesses as complex as advertising. It is not the number and variety of activities or the types of skills involved that 'account for the complexity of advertising. It is the integration of all these activities and skills into a meaningful and purposeful pattern and outcome that accounts for the complexity of advertising.

The complexity itself appears to be different to different components of the advertising business. If you have a product or service to sell and you seek the help of advertising, your concern is confined only to the promotion of sales, repeat sales and profit. If you are in the media-a publisher of a newspaper or a periodical, the owner of a cinema theatre, or a broadcasting/ telecasting service, street hoarding sites and so on-you would look at advertising as a source of revenue for your business, by selling newspaper or periodical or hoarding space, or radio or TV or cinema time. As for the professional body of skilled people-the advertising agency advertising provides you an opportunity to apply your skills and talents to use the space or time provided by the media owners to promote the sales of your client's (the advertiser) products or service.

The perception of the complexity of advertising would depend on the nature of your association with it. Are you buying advertising, space or time? Are you selling advertising space or time? Are you seeking advices on how to advertise your products or service? Are you giving such advice? Are you buying specialized services, such as those of a filmmaker or a TV-spot maker or hoarding painter or a printer? Are you providing any of these specialized services including those by the kingpin of advertising business - the advertising agency?

The nature and depth, or otherwise, of the complexity depends on your place in the advertising business. For those who have to put together the different disciplines, arts, crafts, business, professions, skills, etc. and who direct their activities towards a meaningful and purposeful conclusion, the complexity of advertising is the most acute.

Such complexity does not, however, mean that advertising is a very confusing business. On the contrary, it is the complexity created by the corning together of arts and crafts, businesses and professions, people with different kinds of training and experience, skills and temperaments, which makes advertising such a fascinating and challenging business.

If you should desire to master all these activities and skills, you would have to be a genius. Maybe then advertising would not be able to hold you. An all-round advertising person is impossibility. It is not possible for a single individual to master every specialization and the great division of labor involved. Advertising is teamwork. What makes it fascinating and challenging is that it is teamwork of talented people.

The nearest one can get to a complete advertising person is possibly the advertising manager in the office of the advertiser or the account executive, who has the overall responsibility of handling the advertisements of the advertiser concerned, from the advertising agency. We shall discuss the special qualifications and skills required of these two individuals later. Suffice it to say that both the jobs require some understanding of industry and management and also some knowledge of economics and sociological and even political research. The other people involved in advertising, such as the artist and the copywriter, who between them create advertisements, or those who produce the actual advertising material, do not need to possess such knowledge or understanding. Similarly, those in the media, those who are engaged in organizing the sale of space or time would certainly require only some understanding of advertising business, but would have to master the skill of selling space or time.

Of course, they would need a very good knowledge of the media they represent and their production requirements. There are different points of contact among the different components of advertising business-the advertiser, the advertising agency, the media and the various suppliers of other services. It is. the fruitful interaction among these different components that results in successful advertising. This is not easy and there are areas of both conflict and cooperation.

In this background, let us have a look at the total spectrum of advertising business. It is usual to talk mainly of the advertiser, the advertising agency and the media. Apart from these three primary constituents, there are today other very important ones, which need to be considered. The advertiser is the manufacturer, importer, retailer, marketing organization, government, public institution, voluntary organization and so on. The advertising agency is service organization, providing comprehensive and specialized advertising service.

Media owners are publishers of newspapers or periodicals, cinema advertising contractors and theatre owners, out door and transport advertising contractors, exhibition and fashion show organizers, owners or performers groups of folk cultural items and so on.

Specialized consultancy services would include public relations consultants; marketing and market research consultants. Advertising agencies providing comprehensive service have specialized departments to look after these aspects of marketing communication activities. There are also subsidiaries of advertising agencies, especially for such specialized services. There are independent consultancy services in these areas. Financial advertising has emerged as a specialized service in recent years. In this area too there are independent firms as well as special departments of advertising agencies.

Then we come to ancillary services. This is a vast area related to advertising. These would include industrial and advertising photographers and photographic studies, model agencies for supplying models for use in. advertisements, freelance artists and art studios, freelance copywriters and copy and editorial service units, direct mail services, translation units and freelance translators, various types of printers and associated services, film-makers and film studios, TV and radio-programme makers and studios, designers and contractors of exhibition stalls, outdoor hoardings and electric-sign makers, makers of working models for advertising and display purposes, suppliers of advertising gifts and so on.

This list provides some idea of the variety of expertise required in advertising. It is evident, that given the variety of specialized services available, everyone who wishes to advertise has different options. I have seen many manufacturers or marketing organizations, when first entering the market, using some kind of freelance services for the advertising of their products. Some of the larger newspapers in the metropolitan cities of India have their own design studios, which provide copy and design services to those who advertise in their publications. There are companies who try to handle some of the activities themselves. They might be producing their own catalogues and sales literature and letters, using freelance services. Most companies find it convenient and cost-effective to use the services of an advertising agency.

The problem really is of getting all these diverse components of the advertising business spectrum to work together in harmony. There is need to ensure that they understand each other's requirements and capabilities. There has to be full recognition .of the expertise of the different specialists involved. This is difficult and this is where the advertising agency comes in. A major part of its success depends on the management of the harmonious working among the different service elements and specializations. The advertiser can avoid this difficult task by availing of the services of an advertising agency.

We are now in a position to discuss how advertising works, or operates. We shall assume that the advertiser works through an advertising agency. The other alternatives we shall discuss later. The process could be said to begin with the advertiser providing detailed information to or briefing the advertising agency, about the product or service, its special features or characteristics in relation to competitors, the total market in terms of geographical location and the type of consumers, the advertiser's share of the total market, what it wants to achieve in the short term and in the long term, its own marketing structure and so on.

The advertising agency is concerned with translating the advertiser's requirements into advertisements, selecting the most effective combination of media for the advertisements and planning their utilization in terms of timing and other factors, production and distribution of the advertising material and evaluating their communication impact.

The media owners have to provide the necessary information about the circulation or reach in both spatial and consumer terms to help the most effective selection of media and ensure that the advertisements are reproduced according to the schedule required by the advertising agency.

It is worthwhile probing a little more into the relationship among these three main components of advertising business. Advertising is both a profession and a business and is even described as an industry today. The agency provides professional counseling, as do the other specialized services. This demands trained skills. At the same time the agency, and the other organizations connected with advertising, sell their services and the products they design, or manufacture, in competition with others engaged in the same business.

The advertiser is concerned with getting the most out of every rupee it spends on advertising, ultimately spelt out in terms of sales achieved. This, of course, is conditioned by the efficient functioning of the other activities involved in marketing a product or service. The advertising agency is interested in increasing its total income. The media owners too are keen to increase their advertisement revenue. There can be a conflict of interests. The advertiser would like to keep down its expenditure on advertising. The advertising agency would like to increase the use of its services by the advertisers. This would mean increasing the advertising expenditure routed through the advertising agency. The media owners would like to get the advertiser to buy more space or time at increased costs. The media owners and the advertising agency have one common objective of making the advertiser spends more. How does one strike a balance between conflicting interests? Herein lies the crux of the relationship.

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