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Advertising: The Good And The Flip Sides In The Digital Era

By Idris Katib
Idris Katib
Idris Katib
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ADVERTISING! It is here. It is there. It is everywhere! At school entrances! On the highways! At shopping malls! In the cinema! In the banking hall! At stadia! On your digital phone.You see hundreds of advertisements competing for your attention daily. JUST TO SELL YOU AN IDEA!

It is a sponsored message or promotion through the media with the aim of persuading people to buy a product, brand, service or idea.

You are constantly exposed to these messages every hour, every minute via different channels: billboards, electronic boards, T-shirts, product packages, radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, pop-up messages, customised SMSes, social media platforms, blogs, websites and on and on.This is why advertising is UBIQUITOUS in nature.

Why is Advertising important?
1) ADVERTISING PROVIDES JOB OPPORTUNITIES
Researchers say that Advertising provides over 6 million jobs in Europe alone, accounting for about 4.6% of total GDP.

2) ADVERTISING IS THE BACKBONE OF MEDIA AND INTERNET SERVICES

Advertising has reduced the cost of TV subscriptions, news as well as entertainment on the media.Advertisements supports some newspapers and magazines to produce free editions.With advertisements, radio and television stations are able to provide 24/7 news, education and entertainment.

3) ADVERTISING SUPPORTS A MORE ACCESSIBLE INTERNET

Advertising is said to be abundantly funding free access to internet services which people across Europe use at minimal or no cost.It is researched that 70% of European Union citizens regularly use free email while all social media are accessed by all segments of the population.

4) INTRODUCTION OF NEW PRODUCT TO THE MARKET

Advertising is used to create awareness for new products and brands.

5) REMINDER OF EXISTING PRODUCTS IN THE MARKET

Oftentimes, advertising is employed to remind customers that a particular product or service is still in existence. This is most applicable to products already at the retentive stage of the advertising spiral, i.e. products that are market leaders in their categories. Coca Cola is a market leader, yet it still advertises to remind its customers.

6) ENLIGHTENMENT AND EDUCATION OF CONSUMERS
Many advertisements serve as a medium of education and entertainment to their audience. For example, toothpaste advertisements educate their target audience while some of telecommunications advertisements entertain and educate their audience.

7) FOR HEALTHY COMPETITION AMONG PARITY PRODUCTS

Advertising helps products in their competitive stage stand shoulder to shoulder with other parity products.

8) AS A TOOL OF VIRAL MARKETING
In this age of digitization, advertising copies are written to be posted,shared, forwarded, clicked, viewed, liked, loved and recommended on social media platforms. This will make them go trending and viral for hundreds and thousands and millions of targeted viewers online.

9) ADVERTISING CONTRIBUTES TO GDP OF COUNTRIES

To achieve its objective, an advertising copy must be effective. We may therefore ask:

WHAT MAKES ADVERTISING EFFECTIVE?
According to Dahl, ( 2007) effective advertising should have the following qualities:

­čÄ»Creative: It should deliver the message in a fresh, new way.

­čÄ»Attention-grabbing: its headline, body copy, graphic elements should grab readers/listeners' attention.

­čÄ»Memorable: The audience should be able to remember your business and products as you give them important reasons to buy your products.

­čÄ»Clear: message should be presented in a concise, easy-to-grasp manner.

­čÄ»Informative: It should enlighten the audience about your business/products.

­čÄ»Distinctive: it should be unique in every way.
However, consumers are turning their back on advertising because some believe that it is no longer credible or trustworthy. The call for regulations and a more ethical approach in marketing and advertising is getting louder and louder.(Von's Van Dyck, 2014, pp 145).

Some people regard advertising as being one of the sorry situations driving the consumption behavior that is harmful to the society. According to them, not only because consumption continues to eat deep into our scarce natural resources but also because advertising undermines our cultural values.

Let us examine some criticisms of advertising as follows:

A) ALL ADVERTISEMENTS MAY NOT BE TRUE
According to a school of thought, consumers get manipulated. Advertisers and copywriters use certain words to manipulate the subconscious minds of the audience.

B) ADVERTISEMENTS INVADE PEOPLE'S PRIVACY

There are too many unsolicited messages, pop ups,pictures, graphics, audiovisuals etc on our digital devices every minute,every hour.You can only get angry, you have no power to stop this invasion.

C) SOME ADVERTISERS USE PROPAGANDA AND EMOTIONAL APPEALS TO ACHIEVE THEIR AIMS.

That's why most gullible consumers fall victim of impulse buying e.g.Black Friday.

D) USE OF COLOURS TO MANIPULATE CONSUMERS
From research, 90% of our judgement on products are determined by colour use.Colour red and yellow for instance are mostly employed to grab consumers' attention.

E) ADVERTISERS USE FEAR APPEAL ON THEIR ON HUMAN PSYCHE.

Researchers on effect of advertising on human psyche posit that fear overrides any other purchasing behaviour.

F) MOST PRODUCTS ARE NOT EXACTLY AS PORTRAYED IN ADVERTISEMENTS.

Most products purchased online are substandard and very expensive when delivered. At times, advertising visuals are exaggerated.

G) USE OF CHILDREN TO MANIPULATE THEIR PARENTS

Example abound in Indomie advertisements which are usually targeted at children who in turn pressurise their parents to buy.

Let us safely conclude that Advertising can be good or bad depending on what the copywriter sets out to achieve. But no certified advertising professional will use advertising to take undue advantage of their prospects.

Idris Katib is a lecturer of Digital Public Relations and Advertising and writes from Crescent University, Abeokuta, Nigeria. He can be reached via 08096629914