Why do companies advertise?

There is no definitive point of advertising. It is important that we understand the variety of reasons companies choose to advertise.

It seems obvious why companies advertise but, as with everything, there is more to it. Whether online or offline, successful advertising = more sales for a company. Advertising can also convince people to change brands, build loyalty to a particular brand and, ultimately, get people to pay more for products or services.

Not all advertising sells products and services – advertising can be used to share information (e.g. about our health), influence opinion (e.g. about building new things in our communities) or influence actions (e.g. promoting political parties and campaigns).

Time to talk

To start a discussion on why companies advertise, begin by thinking about the following question:

“On social media how much of the advertising is for sharing or for influencing opinion (e.g. justifying a higher price for their product), and how much of it is to encourage an action (e.g. changing brands)?”

Questioning adverts

When looking at an advert, it is useful to think about the questions advertisers have asked themselves before creating it. See below for more useful questions:

  1. What is the key message of the advert?
  2. What is the main subject of the advert?
  3. What problems are being solved by the advert, if any?
  4. What does the advert say about the company?
  5. What is the target market of the advert? (gender/age/interest/income)
  6. How does the advert make you initially feel?
  7. What are the key benefits being advertised?
  8. What is the advert asking the audience to do?

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Source: Media Smart Body Image and Advertising: a guide for parents and guardians