What Is Mass Media Advertising?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2020
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Mass media advertising is advertising placed in mass media markets, where it will reach large numbers of potential consumers. This advertising tends to be expensive because of the sheer volume of impressions it provides, and it is necessary to design a campaign very carefully to have the best effect. Advertising firms specializing in mass media marketing are available for companies that do not want to handle their advertising needs internally. Most mass media outlets also have an advertising department to handle inquiries from customers interested in placing advertisements.

The mass media include Internet, television, radio, billboards, and other forms of mass communications. In all cases, a large proportion of the population has access to the communications provided by these media outlets, and advertising can have a profound impact. This differs from local and regional media, which have limited reach within a given population; people around the world read The New York Times, for example, while local newspapers tend to be read primarily by the residents of a small region.


Companies interested in mass media advertising tend to have a broad reach of distributors for their products and have an interest in building their market share or increasing their reach. Many are multinational corporations operating in a variety of markets, selling products ranging from cars to cleaning supplies. In mass media advertising, the goal is to familiarize viewers and listeners with the company and its products, build positive associations to encourage people to seek out the company's goods, and provide information about where to find them.

A mass media marketing campaign can span multiple platforms. Companies like to keep their branding consistent so consumers start associating particular visual themes, colors, and concepts with that company's products. The advertisements are kept generally topical to appeal to the broadest number of viewers. The company may attempt to reach a target demographic like young adults by running ads in mass media that that demographic is most likely to consume.

Mass communications are often subject to government regulations that place limits on their content. Mass media advertising must comply with rules on profanity, nudity, and other subject matter. They also need to comply with advertising law; for example, a company cannot make false claims about the merits of its products, nor can it malign a rival in a way that might be considered libelous. Ad firms have legal staffs to carefully vet proposed advertisements and make sure they fall within advertising standards.


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Post 4

@ceilingcat - I wish viewing advertisements would always result in a discount. For example, I would really love a discount on my cable bill for all those ads I watch during television shows or all the radio advertising I hear when I'm driving!

Anyway, I think we really underestimate the effect that mass marketing has on our collective psyche. I feel like advertising sends powerful messages to people about how they're supposed to look and behave and what is "normal."

Even if we try not to absorb these ideas, I think we all do to a certain extent. These advertisements are pretty much everywhere you look!

Post 3

I think it's interesting how much mass media advertising has adapted to changing technology. For instance, I know that some e-readers have advertisements on them now!

I believe they sell the e-readers at a discount and call them a "special offers edition." So basically the customer pays less money, but then has to look at advertising when they're viewing the menu and screen saver. In addition to ads, the device gives the customer access to special offers that are only available if you buy the device. So the customer feels like they're getting something good out of the deal too.

I think it's a pretty genius idea. And in fact, when I replace my e-reader I think I'll get one with the special offers!

Post 2

@letshearit - I think that with more and more mass media advertising happening on the web a lot of places are going to have to improve their privacy laws when it comes to advertisers. The days of just worrying about the impact of TV advertising and print media advertising are long over.

I think that with the advertising jobs available today that those working really need to be aware of modern advertising techniques. I have a small business and I asked my friend at a media advertising agency what I should do to promote it and they said, "make an app!" The idea never even occurred to me, but I guess that is the newest way to get your word out there.

Post 1

There is so much digital media advertising going on these days that it is hard to scroll through a site without getting bombarded with advertising. The new twist is, that because of your browsing habits, a lot of sites now show you only things your interested in.

Do you think there should be more laws in place to regulate this kind of targeted mass media advertising?

I know with myself I am always shocked to see how much social media sites have dug up about me and given to their advertisers. While having ads I am actually interested in appear is helpful, it is also disturbing how much advertisers know.

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