Mass media is such a part of our everyday lives that much like air we easily forget about it. Yet, in the present day, mass media surrounds us everywhere we go, and researchers have gone as far as to determine that we spend thirty percent of our waking hours engaged in media related activities. This accounts for about five hours every single day. As a result, mass media and how we use it is extremely important.
Mass media can be defined as the various media vehicles used to transmit messages to large amounts of people. Some examples of mass media include television, newspapers, magazines, radio, film, email, and more.
The goal of advertising is to utilize mass media in order to spread a specific message about a certain business’s product or service. Consequently, understanding the purpose of mass media is the key to understanding the purpose of advertising. In general, four different objectives can be achieved from mass media.
First, one the most basic purposes of mass media is to inform an audience. When mass media is used in this way, mass media can be an extremely powerful. This is often the first step for advertisers. Before people will buy your product or service, people must understand what it is and how the product or service can improve their life. An example of a media informing an audience could be a newspaper when it breaks a news article or a television commercial explaining the menu options at a restaurant.
Second, another purpose of mass media is to persuade. This may mean to persuade a person to buy something, as in the case of advertising, or this may simply be to persuade a person to feel or think a certain way. Advertisers spend a lot of time trying to persuade mass audiences to feel a certain way about a business’s brand.
Third, mass media can simply be used to amuse or entertain and audience. Sometimes the best way to engage a large audience is through humor or an interesting story. Geico is a perfect example of a company that tries to entertain through their advertising. Radio stations are another example of a mass media that exists mostly to entertain listeners.
Finally fourth, mass media can be used to enlighten an audience. This is one of the least common forms, especially in advertising. This goal steps beyond simply informing or entertaining. The mass media forms that most often try to achieve this goal are books or poetry. The most applicable example of this to advertising is perhaps the use of satire or a documentary. A company could put on a documentary to not only inform, persuade, and entertain an audience, but also to enlighten them about a current situation.
For advertisers, a common problem is deciding which of these four goals to try to achieve. The advertisers who are most successful use a combination of all of them. Most importantly, they remember who their audience is. For instance, you most likely will have to inform an audience about something before you can persuade them to action.
However when looking at these four different purposes for mass media, you can see many different ways to engage and reach a large audience. At the end of the day, by better understanding the goals and purpose of mass media as well as your audience, you can better craft your advertising plan and better utilize mass media.