Esther Thorson University of Missouri-Columbia
The scientific study of advertising is one of the oldest in communication, and one of the best developed both in terms of method and theory. An extensively used advertising textbook ( Bovee & Ahrens, 1986) defines advertising as "the nonpersonal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services, or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media" (p. 5).
A frequent confusion about the definition of advertising concerns its relationship to marketing. Marketing is a much broader term that includes everything an organization does to sell its products, services, or the company itself. This involves finding customers and figuring out what they want, developing products to satisfy those wants, and selling those products to customers. These three activities involve the subareas of product development, pricing, distribution, and promotion. Advertising, on the other hand, is a subcategory of promotion, which is defined as everything that is done to sell the product. Advertising refers only to the paid media aspects of selling.
But beyond its relation to marketing, what is advertising? Advertising involves information about a brand or idea. It often involves images, music, and stories. In the electronic media, it may be an interruption of ongoing processing of other materials such as news or entertainment. Often advertising is far less important to people than the material in which it is embedded.