Elements of Media

Evaluation of a particular medium for inclusion in a campaign rests upon what it contributes to the cumulative effect. Any medium comprises of 4 elements.


  • Character
  • Atmosphere
  • Reach and frequency
  • Cost

In addition to this, we should also realize that the “value” contributed by the medium also depends upon the – size of the advertisement or length of the commercial and the position of the advertisement.

By the word “character”, we mean the objective characteristics of the medium; type of coverage, seasonal implications etc. By “atmosphere” we mean the effect on the mind or emotions of the mood and circumstances in which the advertisement in the medium is perceived by the audience. We shall now see these two elements in detail.


There are ten aspects to character.

  • Geography
  • Class
  • Age
  • Power to reach special groups
  • Physical characteristics of the medium
  • Assistance to selling
  • Duration of interest
  • Timing
  • Impact or repetition
  • Indirect effects on influential groups like retailers
  • Geography

Geography :

The coverage of every medium is limited by area. Coverage may be limited, as with a national newspaper to a national basis. Within this lies another limitation, as in a national paper may also have a strong degree of coverage in some areas and lighter degree in others. Coverage may also be limited as with a television or radio station to a specified “region. Within this it is further influenced by fluctuating factors like signal strength, booster transmitters or pattern of relay services. This factor is important not only to small regional advertisers but also to national advertisers whose sales patterns and resistance varies from region to region.


Most media have overwhelming bias towards any social economic class, being read and seen so widely that the class distinction is largely eliminated. But there are also many media in which the class bias is obvious or atleast definable eg. High priced -fashion magazines are biased towards high society women.

Age groups:

The age factor may be extremely important for some products. For eg. Its no use trying to sell toothpaste to people with false teeth. General observation and common sense shows that certain types of media vehicles, by the virtue of their content itself, appeal to certain age groups rather than others. In contrast, certain other media evidently have equal chance of reaching all age groups eg. Posters, billboards etc.

Power to reach special groups. Even within socio-economic groups there are certain special groups that could be important to advertisers. Different media are available for reaching a pre-selected target audience as required by the advertiser. Eg. The Motoring Times targets males interested in Motor vehicles.

Physical characteristics of the media:

Another important character aspect is the physical characteristics of the medium. Whether it is oral, written or visual. Whether it admits movement or not, etc. For eg. A message that requires demonstration would use the television medium, but which require personal interactive demonstration would use exhibitions or POP demos.

Assistance to Selling:

Another aspect of character is the degree to which the medium assists the process of selling. Some advertisements aim at hard core selling where as some require the creation of a prestigious atmosphere. Mediums differ in the level of assistance to selling. For eg. Mediums like POPs have a high level of assistance as compared to television. Choosing the medium according to the advertising objective is extremely important. For eg. Using only down-to-earth mediums for the brand building exercise of expensive cosmetics would not only be detrimental to the brand but also poor returns for the money spent.

Duration of interest:

The time given by the audience to the advertisements in a particular medium is another very important aspect. Some advertising messages are just reminders so mediums which have only a few seconds of observer time like posters serve the purpose. But other messages may require mediums with higher duration of interest.


The moment at which the message is seen or read is also of immense importance.  For eg. For products that have a casual or impulse buying pattern, its imperative that the media used for advertising used is as close to the point of purchase as possible. The day of the week, month, time of the day, season etc also affect the degree to which the message is effective.

Impact and repetition:

The characteristics of the medium also affect the impact offered by the medium. For eg. An inch-high font size might be effective on a full page newspaper ad, but a foot high font size is totally ineffective for a hoarding. The cost of the medium also determines the ability to use it for repetitions. For messages where repetition is more effective then lengthy “once in a whiles”. Using TV for short advertisements is more effective then for longer duration films.

Indirect effects on influential groups like retailers. Another important value of the advertising budget is that it gives the retailer confidence to stock the goods and to display them prominently. This confidence can be formed only when the retailer respects the ad or sees the ad in the course of events. This many a times becomes an important deciding factor between two equivalent media. For eg. For a women’s product sold through grocers, if the choice is between a women’s magazine and a daily newspaper, it is more likely that the grocer will see the ad in the newspaper, thus the newspaper is a more efficient medium.


The character of a medium is essentially a very objective and largely physical aspect. The other element is the subjective and atmospheric aspect of any medium. “Atmosphere” is the mood of the audience and the relationship between the message and the atmosphere of the medium carrying it. Evaluating atmosphere begins with drawing the distinction between media whose primary function is advertising eg. Posters, and media whose objective is different eg. Entertainment for television channels, where the advertising matter is the intruder, whether acceptable or otherwise. Many media have the ability to reach customers when they are deciding their purchases. Any advertising message at this moment is not only acceptable but is also considered helpful. This increases the level of assistance to selling tremendously. For eg. A magazine that talks about beauty and fashion is highly effective in telling its readers about the latest beauty products available. The atmosphere of this particular medium is highly conducive to the advertisements of beauty products.

POPs as an example, rates very high on atmosphere as it is not only acceptable but also extremely relevant to the context. The customer is there to buy and these aid the process of selection. On the other hand, cinema, radio and television fall into the opposite category where advertising is generally intrusive.

Another aspect of atmosphere is the character of the medium, the atmosphere in which the medium
is viewed

Cinemas are generally a cheerful escape for the audience into a world of glamour and fantasy. Advertising for happy, glamorous products would be more effective in this case rather than for hard core household products. The newspaper would be more effective for news oriented messages like an upcoming discount, or a sales promotion.

Another variation of atmosphere lies in the “prestige” of the medium and particularly in its capacity to instill confidence in the buyer about the goods. For eg. National daily papers are more effective as a selling media rather than local weekly papers because their credibility is much higher. This aspect is two way, it follows the “company-you-keep” concept, where not only does the advertisement  derive its atmosphere from the medium but also vice-versa.

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