Brief Media Analysis, Advantages and Disadvantages of each ad medium

While perusing  Friday, I came across a sample client proposal. ( is Radio Advertising Bureau, a subscription-based tool for radio stations, advertisers and media types.) The proposal was meant to show an advertiser how adding radio to its newspaper schedule would increase the overall strength of the advertising campaign. It listed the strengths and weaknesses of Newspaper. And then the strengths of radio, but no weaknesses. Though the point was to illustrate how radio filled in the gaps left by newspaper, I still thought it was a little shady.

So I decided to put my own little analysis together, covering all media: Newspaper, Radio, TV and Web. For web, I’ve narrowed my report to banner ads. Advantages and Disadvantages of each.

I’ve covered most of this before, but thought it would be nice if it was in an easy-to-read (or print) format, bullet-points and all. Enjoy!

The following media analysis outlines the strengths and weaknesses of each ad medium:

Newspaper (iconic)


  • Immediacy: Newspaper ads reach those in the market for your product or service today. This is an attribute of all “iconic,” or visual, media. Run a newspaper ad and you’ll see the results immediately.
  • Details: Newspaper ads can include detailed information or lengthy, complex descriptions because the reader can take his or her time, or re-read the information. How many times an ad is read is left completely up to the reader.


  • Passive Medium: Readers must actively purchase or pick up the newspaper and read it. In addition, Newspaper ads do not build brand awareness or create product demand.
  • Decreasing Readership: Newspaper penetration is down, and will likely continue to decline. The online version of newspapers offers hope, but regardless of its form – online or in print – the advantages and disadvantages are the same.

Radio (echoic)


  • Active Medium: Radio ads reach listeners without any required action from them. The audio reaches them even when they’re not listening. This is an attribute of all “echoic,” or auditory, media. Radio reaches those in the market and those who might not be today, but one day will be – the full spectrum.
  • Branding: Radio excels at branding a company. The most powerful companies in the world today were likely built using the power of sound. A commercial jingle or a friendly message. Like a good neighbor, radio is there.


  • Repetition: Whereas a newspaper ad can be re-read over and over until the facts are absorbed, with radio it is up to the advertiser how many times an ad will be heard. That is why repetition and frequency play such a key role with this medium.
  • Time:  To fully take advantage of radio or any other echoic medium, it takes time. The right message, with enough frequency and repetition. Radio can work as a quick-hitter, however it is not its best strength. When you run a radio ad and you don’t see immediate results, don’t panic. Just give it time.

Television (echoic and iconic)


  • The Best of Both Worlds: TV delivers both echoic and iconic advertising. A TV commercial with images and sound. But the same rules apply. The images will reach those in the market today, while the sound will reach the rest.
  • Active Medium: Like Radio, Television reaches listeners even when they’re not listening. Unless they use that handy commercial to take a restroom break.


  • Fragmentation: It can be difficult to reach the same prospects again and again. With echoic media, repetition and frequency is what makes it work.  It makes more sense to tie your ads to a particular TV show, rather than a channel. People don’t watch CBS, they watch David Letterman.
  • Expense: With TV’s biggest strength being its echoic ability, price comes into play when you consider radio offers the same attribute at a much lower cost. And if you’re running TV ads to reach those in the market today (iconic), you have to decide whether the payout is worth the price of the advertising.

Online* (iconic)


  • Immediacy: Like Newspaper ads, when they work, online banner ads will work immediately.
  • Interaction: Unlike newspaper ads, web banners can actually interact with the viewer. “Click here for pictures of our newly renovated bar & lounge.”


  • Target this: Even with extreme targeting ability, based on interests or demographics, banner ads still only reach those in the market today. Web banners do not build brand awareness or create product demand.
  • Passive Medium: The user must actively find a web page. Then, the user must actively read the ad, or choose to not read it at all.

*Web Banners

Oh, and for my most faithful followers, if you’re wondering, I’m still listening to Predictably Irrational (2008) by Dan Ariely (covered in my post “Choices, Choices, Choices” I’m picking up some great stuff, including the presence of a price “anchor.” I’ll cover that in a future post.

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