Week 12.2 Various Media Alternatives in Advertising and Consumer-oriented Sales Promotions

Examples of Media Alternatives

As we mentioned in the previous lesson, there are various media alternatives in advertising such as TV, newspapers, radio, direct mail, magazines, yellow pages, online, and outdoor. We have also seen the expenditure spent on different media in the previous lesson. In this lesson, we will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of using these different mediums. The table below represents a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each medium. 



Reaches extremely large audience; uses picture, print, sound, and motion for effect; can target specific audiences High cost to prepare and run ads; short exposure time and perishable message; difficult to convey complex information 


Low cost; can target specific local audiences; ads can be placed quickly; can use sound, humour, and intimacy effectively No visual element; short exposure time and perishable message; difficult to convey complex information


Can target specific audiences; high-quality colour; long life of ad; ads can be clipped and saved; can convey complex information Long time needed to place ad; relatively high cost; competes for attention with other magazine features


Excellent coverage of local markets; ads can be placed and changed quickly; ads can be saved; quick consumer response; low cost Ads compete for attention with other newspaper features; short lifespan; poor colour

Yellow Pages

Excellent coverage of geographic segments; long use period; available 24 hours/365 days Proliferation of competitive directories in many markets; difficult to keep up-to-date


Video and audio capabilities; animation can capture attention; ads can be interactive and link to advertiser Animation and interactivity require large files and more time to load; effectiveness is still uncertain


Low cost; local market focus; high visibility; opportunity for repeat exposures Message must be short and simple; low selectivity of audience; criticized as traffic hazard

Direct Mail

High selectivity of audience; can contain complex information and personalized messages; high-quality graphics High cost per contact; poor image (junk mail)


Photo of mock-up television commercial with smiling announcer pointing to a box of "Zip."
Picture quality, sound, and motion provide advantages when communicating the advertising message. TV has these advantages and enables a company to reach out to mass consumer segments. However, there are disadvantages of advertising on TV such as the short exposure time and the high cost to prepare and run the messages. Short exposure does not allow the advertisement to communicate complex information. The exposure time is short in advertising on the radio as well. Moreover, there is no picture or motion, which makes it difficult to convey complex information. The advantage of radio is the low cost and how quickly the ads can be prepared and placed.
Hands cutting a page in a magazine with scissors.
The ads in magazines can convey complex information and can be clipped and saved. One important point to keep in mind when advertising in magazines or newspapers is that the ad competes with other features displayed. 
Photo of a billboard on the side of a building.
The most common form of outdoor advertising is the billboard. It is possible to have good reach with billboards if they are placed in a location seen by their target market. Billboards are relatively low-cost and could be a good alternative for increasing the visibility of well-known products.
Photo of a poster inside a bus shelter.
Other than billboards, transit advertising is frequently used in outdoor advertising. Transit advertising includes messages on the interior and exterior of buses, subway cars, taxis, and transit shelters. Visibility is good, however, as people are rushing to go to work or arrive home after work, most people do not pay much attention to the messages on the ads. 
Photo of a screen on a laptop computer.

Online advertisements can take different forms. Marketers can produce the ads and place them on various sites.

Alternatively, marketers can use user-generated content.   

User-generated content (UGC) is generated by users (customers) and disseminated via various sites, particularly on the internet. Marketers can advertise on user-generated content sites, such as YouTube. They might allow the user to create the content themselves, and then sponsor that content and allow it to be shared with others online. Running a contest would be a great tool to encourage users to create media.  


Doritos logo.

Example: The "Become the Doritos Guru" campaign is an example of an UGC campaign. Consumers were asked to name the new Doritos flavour and produce an ad to promote it.

Businesses usually offer sizable rewards in order to encourage users to put the most effort into it. Doritos would pay one winner $25,000 plus 1% of the flavour's sales forever, in the form of a perpetuity. 


Photo of elevator with poster on wall.
Advertising on "other media" refers to non-traditional advertising options such as place-based media. In the case of place-based media, messages are displayed in locations where the target market visits often, for example airports, doctors' offices, health clubs, theatres, washrooms of bars, universities, restaurants, and nightclubs. Ads can be placed on or near gas pumps, ATMs, and even in elevators. 

Selection Criteria

Among many available alternatives, marketers work on choosing the best-fit medium for their advertisements, trying to maximize exposure while staying within the limits of their budget. The selection of media is not an easy decision and depends on several factors: 

  • The media habits of the target audience: Where the target audience go and what type of activities and media they use are the most essential factors in the selection of the right media.
  • Product attributes: In some products the attributes of the product dictate the media choice. For example if visual design and colours are major aspects of the product, radio cannot be used as a medium. If the product is complex in its nature and requires complicated explanations, advertisements on TV or radio would not be appropriate due to the short time available. In such cases, magazines would be more appropriate. Detailed explanations can be placed on ads and the reader can take time to read and even clip and save the instructions. 
  • Cost: Applying more than one medium is possible, however, cost is an important consideration. Firms are motivated to reduce cost since cost reduces profits. Marketers work with limited budgets which makes their job more challenging in selecting the best medium. 

Concept Check Questions:

1. Which of the following factors are NOT considered when choosing among alternative media?


2. Which of the following is generated by users (customers) and disseminated via various channels, in particular, the internet?


3. Which of the following is NOT one of the characteristics of advertisements on magazines?

Sales Promotions

The use of sales promotions has been increasing in Canada as businesses have started to spend more money on sales promotions than on advertising. The growth in the use of sales promotions depends on several factors: 

  • Social trend of value-consciousness: Consumers have become more value-conscious. They are more responsive to sales promotions than before. 
  • Contagiousness: The use of sales promotions has become contagious. As competitor firms use sales promotions, marketers feel pressure from customers to apply their own sales promotions. 
  • Technology: Technological advancements allow for electronic delivery and processing of sales promotion offers. It is easy and not very costly to announce sales promotions to consumers using e-mail and the internet.   

Sales promotions can be consumer-oriented or trade-oriented. We will cover consumer-oriented sales promotions in this lesson and trade-oriented sales promotions in the next lesson.  

Consumer-oriented Sales Promotions

Consumer-oriented sales promotions are directed to end users, not to intermediaries. They are helpful in supporting advertising and personal selling efforts. There are many tools included in consumer-oriented sales promotions:

  • Coupons
  • Deals 
  • Premiums
  • Contests
  • Sweepstakes 
  • Samples 
  • Loyalty programs
  • Point-of-purchase displays
  • Rebates   
  • Product placements 

The table below shows these sales promotion alternatives along with their advantages and disadvantages. 

Kind of Sales PromotionObjectivesAdvantagesDisadvantages
Coupons Stimulate demand Encourage retailer support Consumers delay purchases
Deals Increase trial; retaliate against competitors' actions Reduce consumer risk Consumers delay purchases; reduce perceived product value
Premiums Build goodwill Consumers like free or reduced-price merchandise Consumers buy for premium, not product
Contests Increase consumer purchases; build business inventory Encourage consumer involvement with product Require creative or analytical thinking
Sweepstakes Encourage present customers to buy more; minimize brand switching Get customer to use product and store more often Sales drop after sweepstakes
Samples Encourage new product trial Low risk for consumer High cost for company
Loyalty programs Encourage repeat purchases Help create loyalty High cost for company
Point-of-purchase displays Increase product trial; provide in-store support for other promotions Provide good product visibility Hard to get retailer to allocate high-traffic space
Rebates Encourage customers to purchase; stop sales decline Effective at stimulating demand Easily copied; steal sales from future; reduce perceived product value
Product placements Introduce new products; demonstrate product use Positive message in a non-commercial setting Little control over presentation of product

Consumer-oriented sales promotions are helpful in increasing sales in the short run. For example, coupons and deals provide incentives for consumers to make the purchase. However, if they are applied very often consumers might delay purchases. Marketers pay attention to the frequency of application for that reason. 

Premiums are items offered free or at significant savings as incentives to buy a product. Sweepstakes are designed as games based on chance. You can win or lose without putting any analytical or creative effort into the game.

"Roll Up the Rim to Win" sign.
Example: Tim Hortons' "Roll Up the Rim to Win" promotion is an example of a sweepstake.  

Loyalty programs are designed to encourage repeat purchases. Consumers collect points or cash as they make purchases. Accumulated points or cash can be used in purchases. 

RBC Rewards logo.
Example: Credit card reward programs offer points that can be redeemed for airfares and merchandise.

Point-of-purchase displays are displays of products located in high-traffic areas near the cash register or at the end of an aisle in stores. Studies show that one-third of a consumer's buying decisions are made in the store.

In product placement, the product is shown deliberately in a movie, television show, video, or commercial for another product. 


Example: Dr. Pepper, Acura, and Facebook all had product placements in the movie Thor. Note the 7-Eleven sign in the background of this scene from the movie.

Product placement is an attractive option that benefits companies. It provides good exposure and it is not as expensive as commercials. Product placement benefits movie producers as well since a variety of products add authenticity to the movie/show. 

At the end of this lesson, one important remark would be that the most common sales promotional tool for new products is coupons.

Concept Check Question:

1. Which sales promotion tool is most common for new products?