What is Advertising?

Advertising is mass paid communication by means of the media. The media are television, radio, newspapers, any other printed communication, and even word of mouth. Usually advertising is used to encourage ideas and acceptance of people or things.

The earliest record of advertisement is probably the Rosetta stone. It sought to tell people who could read it that Ptolemy was the Son of the Son, Father of the Moon, and the Keeper of the Happiness of Men. Other than the Rosetta stone, the earliest record of advertisement is probably a papyrus flyer stating that a reward will be given for the return of a runaway slave. Oftentimes in the years before Christ, signboards and criers were used to advertise goods.

During the middle ages, there were two important factors to advertising. People needed to be able to read and merchants did not want to advertise so openly that their goods would be stolen.

With the invention of the printing press, advertisements became more commonplace. Handbills and papers inserted into the pages of books were the earliest printed advertisements.

The growth of different media throughout the United States and Europe and eventually the world changed the way advertising worked. Merchants were soon able to make announcements about products to people that were never even in contact with the person or any of the workers advertising the products. Other methods were used throughout the times as well.


Retail advertising often took place within a store. Even if announcements were made in other places, the idea was to make a certain profit off of a product by putting it on sale rather than keeping it at the normal price.

Cooperative advertising is advertising done between a retailer and a manufacturer.

National advertising targets the whole population of a country and allows for a much larger profit intake than would advertising to a specific area.

Services can be offered that may not usually be offered. One of these services that is especially common is free shipping. A company can often afford to simply ship products for awhile from the profit that was made earlier.

Mail order advertising reaches millions of people. Many may throw away such things, but others order through these mailings and catalogues.

Industrial advertising tends to be about advertising heavy machinery to the industries that need them. They are often cheaper in these advertisements than they would be if they were ordered from different place.

Of course, there have been other technological advances in advertising. The most recent is the Internet and how advertisers can use it to their advantage.

While some may consider an unpaid promotional spot an advertisement, this is usually known as a publicity.