Advertising 101: Ways or Classes

Just as there are different channels one can advertise on, there are different classes or “genres” of advertisements that one can run. Each class has its particular quirks and specialties, and a healthy marketing plan incorporates several of these types of messaging. Here’s a brief overview of the top five categories of advertisements and where they shine.

1. Product-oriented Advertising

Product-oriented advertisements promote a specific product or service. A commercial touting a 50% off sale on Brand X denim jackets and a billboard piled with giant chicken sandwiches are both product-oriented advertisements.

These ads make up a huge swath of today’s advertising. Promoting a specific product or service allows for a clear, compelling call to action. “Call now to schedule your tax review,” declares the radio announcer, and it’s easy to do exactly that.

Product-oriented advertising drives business now. The downside is that in focusing on the here and now, honing in on the specific, product-oriented advertising can miss the forest for the trees. A good marketing strategy also looks forward, planning for the future, and that’s where our next class comes in.

2. Image (Brand) Advertising

Image advertising is more familiarly known as branding. Companies who build a solid brand reap the benefits of name recognition and long-term loyalty.

If your business doesn’t have a convenient handle, it is hard for people to grasp and share it. Again, branding is about making it easy for customers to choose your business, in this case (ideally) over and over and over again.

Certain large and well-known companies excel in this area. A gecko selling insurance comes to mind; you’ve seen and heard the advertisements, which rarely actually reference any product or specific service at all. But you remember them, don’t you?

Image advertising is crucial to the long-term success of a business. A lot of thought, planning and creativity goes into branding. It can be tempting to skimp in this area, especially because image advertising doesn’t usually yield immediate, measurable results. But for staying power, branding really can’t be beat.

It’s worth noting that once you have an established brand, it directs all of your marketing efforts. How you advertise products and services, and what other types of advertisements you choose to utilize, are influenced by your brand.

3. Advocacy Advertising

One of the most powerful ways a business can secure its brand for the future is advocacy advertising. Today’s emerging generations want to support businesses that align with their values, and advocacy is a strong public statement of your brand position.

Advocacy advertising typically takes place in partnership with a non-profit or not-for-profit organization. A company might support the organization financially, sponsor an event, underwrite a specific campaign or donate employee time to volunteer activities.

Finding out what is important to your customers is the first step in advocacy advertising. From saving the whales to ending domestic violence, there is plenty of good-doing to go around.

4. Public Service Announcements

Much like advocacy advertising, public service announcements or PSAs are usually partnership campaigns. Instead of non-profits, though, the partnership is often with a government agency.

A beer company might sponsor a series of PSAs about responsible drinking; a children’s clothing store about online safety.

The secret to effective PSA campaigns is to find a good match, some important public issue that fits well with your brand.

6. Content Marketing

And now we come to content marketing.

Content marketing is another long-term strategy that builds your brand’s value and reputation.

This form of advertising can look like sponsored info-tisement articles in the local newspaper, or like a healthy lifestyle blog attached to a chiropractor’s website.

Basically, content marketing offers the user information in exchange for their attention – and, often, their personal details or contact info. When done well, content marketing can build both your brand reputation and your audience.


So what classes of advertising should you be using? Ideally, all of them; an overarching branding campaign supported by advocacy and content marketing and supplemented in real-time with fresh, relevant product and service promotions.

The best advertising is woven through with a clear brand image (and we don’t just mean a logo!) and offers value to current and potential customers in ways that align with that image.

Good branding is like an accent color, tying everything together in a cohesive whole.

All of these types of advertisement are useful tools in building that cohesive experience. Learn to use them well!

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