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What is Advertising? Etymology, Definition and Meaning

square Etymology of Advertising

Etymology means a study of origin, evolution and history of words.

‘Advertise’ is a verb form of English word ‘Advertising’. It has its origin in a classical Latin word ‘Advertere’.

etymology of advertising

Image credits © Prof. Mudit Katyani.

‘Advertere’ is made of ‘Ad’ + ‘Vertere’ where,

  1. Ad means “to or toward”, and
  2. Vertere means “to turn”.

Thus, ‘Advertere’, a union of ‘Ad’ and ‘Vertere’, jointly means “to turn (one's attention) to or towards (something).”

The English word ‘Advertise’ is also linked to Old French word ‘Advertir’, which means “to (take) notice (of something).”

In its original meaning ‘Advertise’ is “to give (or draw) one's attention to (or towards) something.”

1. According to Oxford Dictionary,

“Advertise means to present or describe a product, service or event in the media in order to increase sales.”

square Definition of Advertising

Advertising is defined in numerous ways with different perspectives. Following selected statements attempts to cover the simple, narrow and broad definition of advertising. Its comprehensive definition is also stated but within the preview of different senses viz; general, business and academic.

1. According to John E. Kennedy,

"Advertising is salesmanship in print."

2. According to American Marketing Association (AMA),

"Advertising means any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor."

definition of advertising

Image credits © Prof. Mudit Katyani.

3. In a General sense,

"Advertising covers all kinds of non-personal presentation of ideas, goods, services, events, etc., conveyed to people (who are potential customers being targeted) at large. It includes promotion of ideas, goods, services and/or events executed by an authorized advertising agency to fulfill the expectations of an identified sponsoring entity."

4. In terms of Business,

"Advertising is a subtle strategy of communicating information for promoting, alluring and convincing people to act accordingly and as expectedly to achieve satisfying results in form of generation of sale of ideas, goods, services and/or events. Generally, its consideration is realized in form of cash earned because of increasing sales as a result of its positive impact (persuasion) on potential customers."

5. In an Academic perspective,

"Advertising as a function of marketing is an academic discipline (subject) that teaches basic to advance skills of creating a result-oriented non-personal communication of information. It is done by making systematic plans which when applied correctly with blend of creativity and innovation, has a remarkable ability to make a positive mental impact, and bringing in a psychological change in the majority of masses (people) by appealing and impressing them on their conscious level to try/buy an advertised idea, product, service and/or event. For example, senses pleasuring promotion if done creatively with some unique memorable presentation always makes a place in the minds of onlookers. However, it must be done within a permissible demarcation of professional ethics. It also helps an identified sponsoring entity earn goodwill; only if such an entity provides idea, product, service and/or event on a par with the conveyed (advertised) message."

square Meaning of Advertising

The following nine points explain the meaning of advertising.

meaning of advertising

Image credits © Prof. Mudit Katyani.

  1. Paid Communication: Advertising is a paid form of communication. Here, an advertiser (or a sponsor) pays mass media like television, online portals or websites, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines, Hoarding, etc., to successfully communicate his AD message. Advertiser fully controls such a paid communication.
  2. Non-personal communication: Advertising is a non-personal communication of information. It doesn't focus only an individual else targets all potential customers at once. It overcomes the limitations encountered in selling in person using one-to-one communication. It is an effective non-personal sales tool.
  3. Identified sponsor: In the act of advertising, a sponsor or an advertiser gets easily identified. It is so, since, an advertisement mentions in its message the name, contact details and related information of an advertising entity. It also reveals brand names and trademarks of goods or services, this gives additional information about its source.
  4. A Marketing Tool: Advertising is presentation and promotion of ideas, products, services, events, etc., in the market. It is thus, a marketing tool.
  5. Main purpose: Advertising has three main intentions, namely; inform, educate and persuade.
    1. It first informs the potential customers about ideas, products, services, events, so on.
    2. Secondly, it educates them about a specific idea, product, service, event, etc.
    3. Finally, it persuades them to act as per plan and accomplish the main goal or prime objective of an AD Campaign.
  6. Creative process: Advertising is a creative process that involves brainstorming or imagination for bringing out original ideas. Newer concepts often attract people. If novel ideas are utilized effectively for a promotional purpose, then it can persuade potential customers to act. Thus, advertising helps in achieving the desired goal of an advertiser.
  7. Requires planning: The success of an advertising greatly depends on its proper and prompt planning. Here, what matters more is how well the AD Plan gets executed. The plan of advertising must be effective, efficient and capable enough to capture a targeted market and boost sales of an advertiser.
  8. Needs a meticulous preparation: Advertising involves communication of information to potential customers. Here, a large number of people encounter the advertised message. The AD message must be drafted carefully, prepared with caution and published only under the guidance and scrutiny of expert professionals. Immense care must be taken to see that the AD don't indirectly hurt sentiments of people on sensitive issues like racism, religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Care must also be taken to check that the finalized advertisement don't indirectly slander the reputation or goodwill of well-established brand names of advertiser's competitors.
  9. Proper AD Placement: The success of advertising also depends on the platform where an advertisement is supposed to be released. In other words, the medium on which the AD gets placed affects its rate of success. Before placing an AD on any mass media, the advertiser must:
    1. First prepare and plan out his AD Budget.
    2. Decide on the type of market to target, penetrate and capture.
    3. Determine which group of potential customers to target.
    4. Select the amount or total numbers of customers to reach.
    The success rate of an AD Campaign can increase if advertiser takes correct decisions on crucial matters like; Where, How, When, and For How Long, to do an AD Placement.

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