Consumer advertising is messages paid for by companies and delivered through mass media. The objective is to inform or persuade consumers of the merits of your brand and products. Consumers are a large and common target of ads presented through several traditional types of media. Consumer advertising is distinct from trade market or business-to-business ads presented to business buyers.


Television is the most heavily expended advertising medium used to target household consumers. Companies pay TV networks to place 30- to 60-second spots during a certain part of the day or during particular programs watched by people in the target audience. TV ads typically offer an advertiser the largest possible audience reach if that is the objective. You can also present creative messages and show off products or services to effectively persuade customers. Negative attitudes toward commercials and the high cost are challenges of delivering TV ads to consumers.


Radio ads also target consumers. They are commonly used by retailers in local markets because of their affordability and targeted geographic reach. Because of their affordability, you can often influence consumers over time with radio ads through repetition, making radio a good advertising medium for a small business. Audience attitudes and disinterest in radio ads are detractors. People are commonly driving and often turn the channel when ads come on. Radio messages are also fleeting and creating a memorable impact is a difficult.


Several print media are used to reach consumers, with newspapers and magazines being the most common. Direct-mail pieces are also sent to consumers. Businesses are also targeted through business newspapers and industry-specific magazines. However, consumers purchase lots of daily or weekly newspapers and any of the hundreds of weekly consumer magazine publications. High perceived credibility, geographic targeting in newspapers, visual appeal in magazines and high audience interest in print media are among advantages in reaching consumers through these formats. Newspapers don't allow you to reach niche audiences, though, and magazines have a high cost per contact. However, advertising your small business in your local newspaper can allow you to reach a large audience for a moderate cost.


A number of support media are used to reach consumer audiences. Billboards are placed on highways and in metro areas to hit local consumers or those in the midst of travel. Directories target consumers in select markets. Transit ads are placed on public transportation vehicles to target urban consumers in cities. Aerial ads are often used to reach consumers in cities or attending outdoor sporting events.


Digital and interactive ads have picked up since the emergence of the Internet in homes in the mid-1990s. Companies use online ads, mobile messaging and other digital formats to reach tech-savvy and "on the go" consumers. Affordability, ease in tracking and audience selectivity are among the appeals of digital ads. Plus, as people continue to do more with their mobile devices, companies are attempting to reach consumers through them. Digital advertising is often a good choice for small businesses because it is inexpensive and allows targeting of niche audiences.

Sales Promotion

Whereas other traditional consumer ads are intended to build and maintain long-term brand image, sales promotions are used to induce consumers to make immediate purchases. Discounts, rebates and coupons are among the promotions used to lure in customers. This short-term-oriented ad approach is used to convey value to the consumer by offering a quality product a reduced price. Overuse can detract from other consumer advertising, however.