What Makes Advertising Effective?

Topics: Advertising, Infomercial, Billboard Pages: 7 (1686 words) Published: November 16, 2013
Executive Summary

The following report will provide information on how semiotics play a role in effective advertising. Information will be included on the following types of advertising:

1. Print Advertising
-advantages and disadvantages of this type of advertising
-understanding effective use of semiotics in print advertisements 2. Television Advertising
-advantages and disadvantages of this type of advertising
-understanding how signs play an important role in television advertisements 3. Billboard Advertising
-advantages and disadvantages of this type of advertising
-understanding effective use of semiotics on billboards
-Improvements on the three types of advertisements
-How to improve the effectiveness of semiotics to reap the most value


In the world of consumerism, there are many things that can influence, persuade, or dissuade a person from purchasing something. Some people might rely mostly on word of mouth, while others might rely on testing the items out themselves. No matter how the person ends up deciding, there was some sort of advertising involved. Advertising comes in a variety of forms, however this paper will explore the advertising areas of print, television advertisement, and billboard advertisements with a focus on semiotics.


To begin, let’s understand what semiotics, specifically visual semiotics, means. Semiotics is the study of signs and the interactions one has with them (Merriam Webster, 2013). Essentially, semiotics is how the eye follows an advertisement and the information and interpretation they generate from it. This is extremely important as advertising nowadays is extremely visual. Signs and symbols are very important to memory, especially things like packaging, color, and letters (De Mooij, 2005). Other things, such as sounds, patterns, and movements are also very important in establishing memory.

The first method of advertising that will be discussed is print advertisement. Print advertisement is anything from newspaper adverts, to magazines and flyers. With print advertisement, there is very easy success at targeting specific audiences. Fashion magazine readers will be targeted with fashion apparel ads and various other things related to fashion, thus no space is wasted on trying to advertise other things. Figure 1 shows a boat in a boating print magazine. Segmentation is very important in advertising as it differentiates varying target audiences. 

Another advantage to print advertisements are that they can be easily positioned to reap the most attention with specific audiences. Positioning is key when making the most out of advertising; a yacht review wouldn’t be posted in the obituary section of a newspaper, instead it would be posted in the sports and outdoors section. The overall impact of print advertising is very powerful, especially since it generates loyalty; people will tend to refer many times to the same print advert and source in which it was printed in (Noronha, 2011). It is clear that the print advertisements don’t represent the objects physically, however they do express important components of them, as well as having a strong sense of plausibility. A major disadvantage of print advertisement, however, is the fact that there are so many advertisements happening at once that are all fighting to win the viewers attention. In addition, another disadvantage to print advertisement is that the symbols and things being advertised are culturally agreed conventions (Goddard, 2002). There is a possibility that a black triangle in an ad or logo may be acceptable in one society, but highly offensive in another. Signs and symbols that can generate more than one meaning are polysemic (Lacey, 1998). If there is a symbol or something offensive printed, it becomes tangible and will be there for quite some time. This becomes disadvantageous to the advertiser because it makes the advertisement’s...

References: Beasley R., Danesi M. (2002) Persuasive Signs: The Semiotics of Advertising, 1 edn., Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Danesi, M. (2008) Why It Sells; Decoding the Meanings of Brand Names, Logos, Ads, and Other Marketing and Advertising Ploys, 1 edn., Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield.
De Mooij, M. (2005) Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradoxes, 2nd edn., USA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Figure 1: Motorboat and Yachting, n.d. (image online), Available at: http://www.ipcadvertising.com/resource/ip36634hh1aniiwvvtb4lgnm.jpg (Accessed: 9th April 2013).
Figure 2: Playboy Magazine, The Seagram’s Gin and Tonic Secret, C. 1977 (image online), Available at: http://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/0/6/7/5/1/2/webimg/254809902_o.jpg (Accessed: 9th April 2013).
Figure 3: Sam Wallbank, 2010 (image online), Available at: http://ivanteh-runningman.blogspot.co.uk/2011_01_01_archive.html (Accessed: 9th April 2013).
Figure 4: Nike, n.d. (image online), Available at: http://visionwidget.com/outdoor-billboard-advertising.html (Accessed: 9th April 2013).
Goddard A. (2002) The Language of Advertising, 2nd edn., USA and Canada: Routledge.
Goldman R., Papson S., Kersey N. (2003) The Semiotics of Advertising, Available at: http://it.stlawu.edu/~global/pagessemiotics/menuframesem.html (Accessed: 9th April 2013).
Hackley, C. (2010) Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Approach, 2nd edn., London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Lacey, N. (1998) Image and Representation: Key Concepts in Media Studies, 1st edn., New York, N.Y.: PALGRAVE.
Merriam Webster (2013) "semiotics", Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/semiotics (Accessed: 9th April 2013).
Rampur S. (2012) Billboard Advertising Effectiveness, Available at: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/billboard-advertising-effectiveness.html (Accessed: 9th April 2013).
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