What Are the Different Types of Media?
How your business communicates to customers and potential customers can help define your brand and vision. It takes careful planning to create a successful campaign that delivers the information your customers care about. Knowing what routes are available to transmit this information can aid in your preparation. In this article, we discuss what types of media are and list the advantages and disadvantages of each.
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What are the types of media?
The types of media are the different channels through which information and entertainment reach an audience. Media often includes the content itself as well as the physical device needed to transmit it, such as television programming and a television. You can divide media into four distinct categories:
Print media: Print media refers to printed materials, such as books and magazines, that contain words and images.
Broadcast media: Broadcast media includes information transmitted through one of several mass communication channels, such as television and radio.
Internet media: Internet media is content distributed online and can include emails and online publications.
Out-of-home media: Out-of-home media, or OOH, is media that reaches people when they are outside of their homes, like billboards.
Factors to consider when selecting types of media
Selecting which type of media your business may use depends on several factors, including:
Size and nature of your business
Your product or service
Your marketing goals
Here are the different types of print media along with the corresponding advantages and disadvantages of using them to communicate with customers:
News and other organizations create national, regional (local) or special interest newspapers and often distribute them daily. They disseminate an extensive amount of information at a low price to readers. Newspapers can include several ad types, such as classified ads, display ads and inserts.
Advantages of newspapers
Large volume of readers: According to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, the data from 2018 indicates that 16% of adults got their news from a daily newspaper.
High frequency: Most national and local newspaper organizations deliver daily.
Inexpensive: Newspapers are usually $3 or less, and you can receive a discount if you pay for a yearly subscription.
High level of reader engagement: Readers must decide to purchase a newspaper and when they read it, increasing their level of engagement with the content.
Geographic specificity: Ads can target a local or national audience.
Disadvantages of newspapers
Possibility of becoming ruined: Printers use inexpensive, low-quality paper that becomes discolored and brittle.
Inability to target specific demographics or lifestyles: Newspaper readers are a diverse population. Ads in newspapers cannot target specific genders, ages, hobbies or economic class.
Short period of relevance: Most newspapers contain daily events and news that lose relevance within a day or two.
Audience must be able to read: Newspapers are only available for those who can read and those who have access to shops or delivery.
Magazines can be consumer-related or business-related. Consumer magazines include those focused on glamour, lifestyles, entertainment and special interests. Consumer magazines are often printed monthly. Business magazines share news, information, reviews and research related to a specific industry and can include trade journals and professional publications. Business magazines are typically printed on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Advantages of magazines
Higher quality physical product: Magazine printers use glossy, higher quality paper than newsprint.
Targeted lifestyles and demographics: Because magazine readership is segmented by gender, interest or industry, advertisers can choose the most relevant publications.
Long period of relevance and usefulness: Magazines contain information and articles that can be useful for months or years, such as recipes, research and informational pieces.
High level of reader engagement: Readers are engaged in reading magazine articles, rather than being passive observers.
Disadvantages of magazines
Low frequency: Magazine subscriptions often reach readers monthly. Other readers may purchase magazines inconsistently.
Expensive: Advertising in magazines can be more expensive than advertising in newspapers.
Competition: Many magazines have similar audiences, which leads to increased competition for reader attention and ad space.
Direct mail includes informational flyers or postcard promotions delivered via USPS to the home or business address of a specified list of customers.
Advantages of direct mail
Highly specific audiences: Companies can pay for mailing lists filtered by zip code, income level, family size and more to reach individuals and families most likely to purchase products or services.
Convenient and free for consumers: Customers do not have to make any extra effort to see your content.
Opportunity for creativity: Direct mail provides an opportunity for advertisers to invoke creativity to gain readers' attention.
Personalization: Advertisers can personalize mail with recipients' names.
Disadvantages of direct mail
High cost of creation and demographic research: Direct mail can incur high costs if advertisers purchase extensive lists, send a large quantity or use nontraditional sizes or shapes.
Time requirement: Direct mail requires advanced planning for creation, printing, mailing and delivery.
Low response rate: Most direct mail recipients do not respond to mailers.
Here are the different types of broadcast media along with the corresponding advantages and disadvantages:
Television provides audiences with audio and visual stimuli to deliver information and entertainment.
Advantages of television
High viewership rates: Millions of viewers watch popular television shows or live events, like sports.
Ads appear automatically: Viewers see ads without making any extra effort.
Highly targeted to key demographics: Advertisers can use market research for time blocks, channel and type of program to target their desired audience.
Flexibility: Television advertising allows for creative, emotional or shocking methods for gaining viewer attention.
Disadvantages of television
High cost: Television ads, especially those during popular shows and events, are expensive.
Channel changing or fast-forwarding: Viewers have the option to skip your ad.
Limited viewer attention: Viewers may experience distractions that prevent them from paying attention to your ad.
Short ad lifespan: Television ads are typically 15, 30 or 60 seconds long.
Radio offers listeners audio programming, including music, news and podcasts.
Advantages of radio
Low cost: Radio advertisements are typically cheaper than television ads.
Flexibility: Advertisers can target listeners based on time, geographic location, channel and program.
Vast coverage: Radio programming has millions of listeners nationwide.
Ability to reach low-income audiences: Many populations that may not have access to other mediums usually have radio access.
Disadvantages of radio
Channel changing or fast-forwarding: Listeners may not pay attention to your ad.
Short ad lifespan: Radio ads are typically 15, 30 or 60 seconds long.
Less retention due to multiple ads airing consecutively: Radio ads appear in blocks, which could detract from listener retention.
No visual elements: Relying only on audio content may diminish listener retention and response.
Movies provide opportunities for advertisers to incorporate their products outside of a traditional advertisement. The characters may mention or use a specific product due to an advertising deal between the movie studio and the company selling the product. For instance, many movies incorporate product placement of certain car or truck brands. Additionally, movie theaters often run ads just before showing a film.
Advantages of movie advertising
Vast reach: Movie attendance, on average, includes over 1 billion viewers annually.
Engaged audience: Moviegoers expect to pay attention.
Capitalizing on the experience: Going to the movies provides a unique collective, emotional experience that advertisers can take advantage of.
Limited distractions: Generally, movie theaters are free of loud noise, visual distractions and background interruptions.
Targeted geographic and age demographics: Advertisers can use market research to target audiences of certain movies by gender, age and interests.
Disadvantages of movie advertising
Low recall of ads or products: When products are placed in movies—or ads during the pre-show—they may be harder to remember.
High cost: Movie cinema ads are expensive compared to print media ads.
Low frequency: Audiences may not see movies as frequently at a cinema due to increased costs and competition from streaming services.
Internet media refers to audio and visual content transmitted online. It can include words, images, graphics and interactive elements. Here are some different types of internet media along with the corresponding advantages and disadvantages:
Companies use email messages to reach customers quickly and directly.
Advantages of email
Inexpensive: Sending and receiving a basic email is free.
Easy to create: You can write an email to customers with a few simple lines. Several email marketing programs provide email templates and free images.
Less research: Often, you won't need to do extensive research for customer email addresses as customers provide them frequently at points of sale.
Disadvantages of email
Low click-through rates: While many people may open your email, far fewer will click links to visit your site.
Competition: Many companies use email marketing campaigns. Additionally, some email servers are identifying and filtering marketing emails.
May feel intrusive to consumers: Customers may not remember providing their email address to you or accepting an agreement to receive emails. Be sure your email includes a link to unsubscribe from future emails.
Social media is a crucial component of many companies' marketing plans because of its popularity and longevity.
Advantages of social media
Large audience: Billions of people use social media worldwide.
Highly targeted ads: Companies can use the large amounts of data collected on users, like habits, purchase history and friends.
Can be inexpensive: Using social media organically to post and interact with customers can be free or very inexpensive.
Interactive: Social media posts can have interactive capabilities for viewers, increasing engagement.
Direct connection to consumers: Companies can use social media to speak directly to consumers in real time.
Large amount of performance evaluation data available: Advertisers can use a number of programs to monitor, track and report on social media ad performance.
Disadvantages of social media
Competition: Other companies seeking to reach your same audience may compete for the same ad space.
User research can become expensive: The more in-depth your research, the more expensive it will be.
Can feel intrusive to consumers: Customers may feel a lack of privacy when viewing highly targeted ads.
Potential for negative comments: Open comments sections may include negative posts.
Time-consuming: Building a brand and using social media effectively requires frequency, consistency and a high level of responsiveness to gain followers.
Related: What Is Social Media Marketing?
Out-of-home (OOH) media reaches consumers where they spend their time outside, including city streets, highways and transit stations. The following are types of OOH media along with the corresponding advantages and disadvantages:
Billboards and outdoor signs
Billboards and outdoor signs may appear along busy streets, recreation centers, city sidewalks and retail centers.
Advantages of billboards and outdoor signs
Wide reach: In high-density areas, hundreds or thousands of people may see your ads.
Inexpensive: Billboards and posters are cheaper than many other forms of advertising.
Frequency: People who travel the same route or frequent the same locations see your ads regularly.
Impactful messaging: Advertisers can use the small amount of space on a billboard or sign to create powerful statements that attract attention.
Disadvantages of billboards and outdoor signs
Limited audience targeting: The audience for outdoor advertising is often less targeted, as advertisers cannot filter for demographics.
Low response rate: While billboards and posters can remind consumers of your brand, they may rarely lead to action.
Audience desensitization: If consumers see your ads daily for months, they may become desensitized to the message.
Transit station ads
You can find OOH media in bus stations, subway stations, train stations and airports where there is always a lot of foot traffic. The advantages and disadvantages of these types of ads are similar to billboards and outdoor signs.
Advantages of transit station ads
Disadvantages of transit station ads
Limited audience targeting
Low response rate
Performance difficult to measure
Frequently asked questions
What's the difference between new media and traditional media?
New media refers to all types of media that rely on digital technology. Examples of new media include social media, internet ads, podcasts, video games and streaming television and film. Traditional media refers to types of offline media that were popular before the internet, like billboards, live television and print ads.
What is media planning and buying?
Media planning is the act of identifying the optimal channels through which to purchase media. Advertisers perform market research, analyze audience data and review budgets to determine the most cost-effective ways to reach their target buyers. Media buyers then purchase advertisements such as television and radio commercial spots, digital ads and billboards, often purchasing manually or using algorithmic or programmatic technology.
What's the most popular form of media?
Digital media, such as web, social media and streaming media, typically reaches more consumers than traditional forms of media. According to the United States Census Bureau, between 2002 and 2020, newspaper revenue dropped by 52% and magazine revenue dropped by 40.5%. The Census Bureau attributes this change to the rise of digital media as consumers spend more time on digital devices like phones and computers.
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