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.