Aims of Advertising – Setting Advertising Objectives

Understand the different purposes of advertising and how to align them with your product’s lifecycle stage and market position.

Before carrying out specific advertising strategies and implementing advertising campaigns, objectives must be set. Without clearly defining the aims of advertising, it will be hard to attain effective advertising. We will therefore look at the different potential aims of advertising.

Advertising Objectives

Many specific communication and sales objectives can be assigned to advertising. Advertising can be defined as any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor. What advertising is supposed to accomplish for a firm can vary greatly. The advertising objectives must flow from prior decisions on target market, market positioning and the marketing mix.

Colley lists 52 possible advertising objectives in his book “Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results” (Russell H. Colley, Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results, New York: Association of National Advertisers, 1961).  He outlines a method called DAGMAR (after the book’s title) for turning objectives into specific measurable goals.

According to Colley, an advertising goal (or objective) is a specific communication task and achievement level to be accomplished with a specific audience in a specific period of time. An example:

To increase among 30 million homemakers who own washing machines the number who are persuaded that brand X gets clothes cleaner from 10 percent to 40 percent in one year.

As you can see, the aims of advertising should be specific, answering questions like:

  • Who is targeted?
  • How many?
  • What product or service?
  • What shall the (change in) perception of the product be?
  • To what extent?
  • In what time frame?

Thus, it is not possible to discuss every possible advertising objective. However, the aims of advertising can be classified according to their prime mission:

Colorful pie chart with icons representing key advertising objectives: partnership, innovation, and community engagement.
Illustrating the primary goals of effective advertising: forging partnerships, fostering innovation, and building community.

Three main Aims of Advertising

Informative Advertising

Informative advertising is especially relevant in the pioneering stage of a new product category. The objective is to build primary demand. To support this objective, informative advertising provides information about the features of a new product or service in order to initiate the decision-making process of consumers. For instance, the yogurt industry initially had to inform consumers of the nutritional benefits of yogurt.

Persuasive Advertising

Persuasive advertising becomes relevant in the competitive stage. The company’s objective is to build selective demand for a particular brand. It has to persuade consumers of the fact that its products or services offer more value than competing products or services. For instance, BMW attempts to persuade consumers that its cars deliver more driving pleasure than Mercedes-Benz cars.

Some persuasive advertising uses comparative advertising, which makes explicit comparisons of the attributes of two or more brands. For instance, Burger King used comparative advertising for its attack on McDonald’s: Burger King directly compared its flame-broiled burgers to the fried ones of McDonald’s to gain advantage. In some countries, comparative advertising is not permitted. In addition, a company should always make sure that it can prove its claim of superiority and cannot be counterattacked in a vulnerable area, which may result in an “advertising war”.

Reminder Advertising

Finally, reminder advertising becomes relevant in the case of mature products. At this stage, consumers are aware of and informed about the features of a product. Also, they are persuaded of its benefits. However, these benefits must be repeated to remind consumers to buy the product. For instance, Coca-Cola ads in magazines are intended to remind people to purchase Coca Cola.

A related form of Reminder Advertising is Reinforcement Advertising, which aims to assure current purchases that they have made the right choice. For instance, automobile ads often depict satisfied customers enjoying special features of their new car.

As you may have already recognized based on the different aims of advertising explained above, the advertising objective should emerge from a profound analysis of the current marketing situation. For instance, if the product is mature, the company is the market leader, but brand usage is low, the appropriate aim of advertising should be to stimulate more usage (persuasive advertising). On the other hand, if the product is rather new to the market, the company is not the market leader, but the product is superior to the market leader’s product, then the appropriate aim of advertising should be to inform the market of the brand’s superiority (informative advertising).

Setting clearly defined aims of advertising will help the company to implement effective advertising campaigns that accomplish what is expected.

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