๐Ÿ“ƒ Advertising


I have a low impression of the advertising industry but it should be interesting to read an advocate's perspective.

Lol the author blames policymakers for mandating content labels (this product is 90% sugar) over end result (it's tasty and you'll love eating it).


  • Classifieds: ads which people look for; newspaper/internet
  • Display: ads which look for people; intrusive by nature; newspaper/tv/radio/internet

Advertising tripartite

  1. Advertisers e.g. soda companies. The ones who pay money to reach an audience.
  2. Media e.g. news channels, papers, radio stations. They have an ad arm that is hopefully independent of the content arm.
  3. Advertising agencies e.g. the people who create the ads.

History and Ecosystem

Media and agency split is apparently about 90/10% these days.

Earlier there was a flat 15% cut to the advertising agencies, so they competed by providing 'full-service': direct mail marketing, door to door distribution, market research, press relations, trade exhibitions etc. For two reasons this changed:

  • Their best practitioners left and started their own businesses. And the cost of providing 'full' service was loss making for the bigger clients. Media buying, which was not loss-making, was looked down upon by the 'creative' folks, so those specialists as well broke away from the big agencies, taking clients with them.
  • Governments felt the 15% flat rate was anti-competitive.

So the current ecosystem has the 'full-service' agencies, the 'creative agencies' and the 'media agencies' and 'planners' who bring all these together.

Then there are the small shops that offer full services to survive, and the marketing services conglomerate who own all of these divisions throughout the world.

So although commissions have reduced to 10%, the number of specialized divisions to talk to is more nowadays.


Is advertising mandatory ? Not at all. E.g. manufacturing companies, movie industries, etc either reach their customers directly or their customers focus more on the output than the brand (e.g. a movie can be successful without the audience knowing the publisher)

"I know half of all the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I have no means of knowing which half."

The Media

Evaluation criteria:

  • How many people can the medium reach in the target market?
  • How much does it cost?
  • How powerful or persuasive is the medium?


The cost per thousand readers is the key for newspaper ads. Factors are colour versus black and white, large versus small, positioning etc.

Consumer magazines

  • General interest and women's magazines
  • Special interest / hobby magazines

Main difference over newspapers is their longevity. So more readers per copy.

Trade journals and directories

Low profile. Specific target markets. e.g. dentists.


Cost per thousand viewers again the metric.

Apparently television viewership has not fallen because of the internet (I wonder how popular Netflix, Prime Video etc were at the time this book was published).

Minor Media

Remaining 20% of total advertising. Direct mail, outdoor (hoardings) and transport, radio cinema etc.

The Internet

I know enough of this to know its a cesspool.

The Creative Agencies

Not about the message you send, but what the audience takes away.

After Television, the copy/art team raised the status of the visualizer, not just the copywriter who was the idea person.

Media Agencies

No surprises. Considerationsa around medium, budget, market etc.

Research, Research, Research

On claims that advertising "manipulates human motivation and desires and develops a need for goods.. ", the author conveniently claims that the claims of researchers - and advertising people - are boastful and self-serving.

The examples that follow to substantiate this claim are around media frenzies around subliminal advertising.

This might have been an interesting area to go deeper, as advertising would be fairly useless if it didn't manipulate human motivation. So the flippant answer seems to be too hasty.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The author seems to think that health warnings and advertising bans did not reduce cigarette consumption, and only increasing costs and bans on public smoking did.

The Role of Advertising in Society

This should be interesting. The chapter starts by asking if advertising is a moral activity. Here are apparently the reasons why it is (my comments are in braces like these):

  • Provides employment by driving demand. (lol ok if driving the monstrous Capitalist machinery is a net good)
  • Provides broadcast media for free (or at subsidized costs). Content on internet is free because of advertising. (content on the internet was free for decades before advertising models came there so debatable again).
  • Provides society with a free and independent press. (fair point, things would certainly be more expensive without ad revenue).
  • Helps national creativity (I'd rather experience a better outlet for creativity personally, like a good book, movie or song rather than an ad jingle).
  • Helps the public: Better information leads to improved products. (I don't see how this ties much to ads: it's the medium that gives that fast and universal access. Why trust an advertiser to give an honest assessment of their product against the competition??)
  • Everyone needs to be reminded about what products they like (seriously?!)

Closing thoughts

You'd expect a book about advertising to be persuasive and effective in convincing you that it is worthy of existence. This book did not succeed in changing my view. I still view it as a cancer inflicted on society.