14 Types of Advertising

Updated March 10, 2023

Companies today have access to a wide variety of advertising options. Advertisements can reach customers in various places, including while watching television, traveling through town or browsing the internet. To determine which types of advertising best suits its needs, a company may need to consider numerous factors, such as budgets or the consumers it wants to target.

In this article, we provide examples of 14 different types of advertising that companies can use to promote their products or services.

What is advertising?

Advertising is a component of a company's marketing strategy. Companies use advertising to share information about their products or services through various media. The advertising landscape has changed with technology, with print and broadcast advertising serving as the traditional format and digital advertising serving as a more modern option. With technology, companies gain new ways of targeting consumers and tracking the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns.

Related: What Is the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising?

14 different types of advertising

Companies can use various advertisements to reach their target consumers or to inform the public. Here are 14 types of advertising and examples:

1. Print advertising

Print advertising refers to printed advertisements, often seen in newspapers and magazines. However, this category also includes other printed materials, such as brochures, directories and flyers. Companies can place advertisements in local newspapers–whether throughout the paper or within the classifieds section—to target consumers within a geographic location.

For a more targeted audience, companies may seek advertising opportunities in magazines. Specialty magazines can help a company reach a specific group or type of people. For example, a company that sells golf equipment would place ads in magazines for golf enthusiasts because they know that audience is more likely to appreciate their product. Magazine advertising can also offer a better visual experience for consumers, as the full-page opportunities allow for more color and high-production images than newspaper advertisements.

2. Direct mail advertising

Direct mail is a type of print advertising that sends advertisements to customers through the mail. Examples include brochures, catalogs, newsletters and flyers. This approach enables companies to identify an even more targeted market than other print advertising formats because it distributes ads via a direct mailing list.

For example, someone who opens a hair salon can create a flyer that announces their grand opening. They can then send that flyer to a list of residents located within five miles of the salon. To attract new customers, the owner can also include a discount coupon with the mailer.

Related: 11 Types of Direct Marketing

3. Television advertising

Television advertising is a type of broadcast advertising where companies advertise their products or services through 20-, 30- or 60-second TV commercials. It can be costly but enables companies to repeat their advertisements regularly. The costs to air television commercials can vary due to the following factors:

  • The ad length

  • The time of day

  • The television show

  • Frequency of airing

  • The geographic reach

  • The number of networks

For example, it is much more costly to air a commercial during a widely watched event, such as the Super Bowl. While consumers now have the ability to skip advertisements on their televisions, it still serves as an effective method of reaching a large audience. Repeating advertisements help build recognition and brand awareness, and even if consumers are not watching the ads, they may still be listening to them.

Related: 5 Steps for Creating Commercials (Plus Effective Tips)

4. Radio advertising

Radio is another form of broadcast advertising that plays ads during programming breaks. Customers can listen to radio advertisements while conducting other activities, such as driving or doing household chores. Like television, radio enables the repetition of advertisements, which can give companies more recognition with consumers.

Companies can research what radio stations are popular with their target customers. They can also learn what times of day these customers listen to the radio most. For example, they may try to advertise during a morning time slot when they know many of their customers will be driving to work.

Related: 9 Types of Media Marketing

5. Podcast advertising

In podcast advertising, companies can sponsor podcasts or have advertisements for their products or services played during the episodes. Typically, podcasts play ads at the beginning, middle and end of episodes. Similar to radio advertising, companies can research which podcasts are most popular with their target audience.

Some podcast hosts read from a script provided by the company or create their own, which can be an entertaining way for listeners to consume advertising content. Often, companies will offer a discount code available to listeners of a podcast. Besides attracting new customers, this code can help companies assess how well this advertising strategy works based on its use.

Related: How To Advertise Your Business on a Podcast in 5 Steps

6. Mobile advertising

Mobile advertising reaches consumers through any mobile device with internet connectivity, such as a cellphone or tablet. These advertisements may appear to consumers through social media, on web pages or within apps. For example, a customer playing a mobile game may receive ads for similar games between gameplay rounds. The benefit is that these advertisements can reach consumers no matter where they are. If individuals enable location settings, companies may even be able to target them via geographic location.

Another way companies conduct mobile advertising is by combining it with print advertisements using QR codes. When consumers see a QR code in a magazine, they can scan it using their mobile device. It could then take them to the brand's website or offer them a coupon.

Related: How Do QR Codes Work? (Techniques and Best Uses)

7. Social media advertising

Companies use social media advertising to promote their products or services on various platforms. Social media advertising, like other digital advertising, enables companies to target specific audiences. They may focus on reaching customers based on their geographic location, age group or buying habits. They can either pay for the platforms to promote their advertisements, or they can use more organic methods.

For example, a small business can use organic social media advertising by asking its followers to like and re-share one of their posts. They then may pick a participant at random to receive a discount or gift. Today's businesses also utilize online influencers, bloggers or celebrities to create posts promoting their brands or products. Rather than full advertising campaigns, these methods may serve as more cost-effective techniques that enable the business to spread awareness of their brand.

Related: 10 Types of Social Media To Promote Your Brand

8. Paid search advertising

Paid search is a type of online advertising, sometimes referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Companies that use PPC advertising only pay a fee when users click on their ad. They bid on specific keywords, usually related to their business, along with the placement of their ad on the search engine. For example, a company that sells folding bicycles includes the keyword "foldable bikes" in its bid. When users search that phrase, the company's products appear as an ad within the search results—typically at the top of the page.

Related: What Is PPC and How To Use It

9. Native advertising

Native advertising is a type of digital advertising in which ads look similar to the rest of the page content. Pay-per-click advertisements can serve as a form of native advertising because the advertised product often blends in with the other results. Businesses enjoy using this format because it does not interrupt the user experience, unlike display advertising.

For example, a website that publishes articles about professional development may also include sponsored articles. These look the same as the articles published by the site's writers and editors but came from a business looking to promote its products or services. A reader may find an article about time management tips and realize later that it is a sponsored post from a company that sells time-tracking software. In this scenario, the company also would likely mention or advertise its software within the article's content.

Related: 4 Native Advertising Examples (With Tips)

10. Display advertising

Display advertising is a type of digital advertising that uses identifiable ads. These may include banner ads at the tops or sides of web pages and pop-up ads. Another example would be the video ads that appear before or during streaming video content. Display advertising encourages users to click on them to move to the company's website, often to make a purchase. These advertisements are very prevalent online, though sometimes that can make them easy for consumers to ignore.

One method used in display advertising is remarketing or retargeting. When users visit a brand's website, they often accept browser cookies that allow the site to track their journey. If the user decides not to purchase anything on the site, the brand may target that customer and place ads for their products on other websites to remind them to return and buy the item.

Related: The Definitive Guide To Remarketing

11. Outdoor advertising

Outdoor advertising refers to advertisements that consumers see outside their homes. As a result, this type of advertising is sometimes called out-of-home advertising. Examples include billboards and advertisements seen in public places or transit vehicles, such as on the sides of buses or inside subway cars.

Outdoor advertising aims to catch the attention of a large population. Usually, these ads help businesses build their brand awareness within a geographic location. The space allotted to outdoor advertisements may be limited, as can the amount of time a consumer takes to view the advertisements. Typically, these ads use bold images and fewer words so that the content is easily understood.

Related: Types of Media: Advantages and Disadvantages of Each

12. Guerrilla advertising

Guerrilla advertising refers to less conventional methods that are generally low-cost and employ creative techniques to draw attention. A common strategy in this category is ambient advertising, in which a company places ads in public places but uses an unconventional manner. For example, rather than advertising on a bus stop, a company may paint a mural on the sidewalk advertising their services.

Guerrilla marketing sometimes invites public interaction or participation. For example, the advertisement may encourage individuals to take a photo with the ad and post it on social media using a hashtag. That is why companies using guerilla advertising aim for eye-catching ads — to entice consumers to interact with their content. Advertising via word-of-mouth can serve as an effective and less costly way for companies to build brand awareness.

13. Product placement advertising

In product placement advertising, a company pays to have their product embedded in media content, such as a television show or movie. The content sometimes does not explicitly mention the product, but it is viewable by the audience. This method can help companies reach targeted groups more discreetly.

For example, a soda brand may want to target teenagers. They can pay to have their beverages advertised via product placement in a popular teen film franchise. Characters in the film who drink soda will drink that company's beverage, and the label will be visible. The characters may mention the beverage brand, but not necessarily.

14. Public service advertising

Public service advertising refers to advertisements that promote a cause or initiative rather than a product. Often called public service announcements (PSAs), these ads aim to inform the public about a topic in a way that benefits them or others. Organizations can use public service advertising in various formats, such as television, radio or online video advertising. Providers will donate airtime to these ads, though they must meet particular requirements to qualify as a PSA.

This type of advertising often is used by government agencies or charitable organizations to educate consumers on health and safety topics. For example, the Centers for Disease Control airs PSAs to inform citizens of the necessity to take health screenings or prepare for natural disasters.

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