Is ‘Traditional’ Advertising in Decline?

‘Traditional’ advertising refers to the use of print (for example posters and billboards), TV adverts, and also includes radio advertising. However, these forms of media communication are still perceived to be effective in today’s technology-filled society. But findings from research into the areas of TV advertising and print, including a questionnaire conducted by the author of this dissertation, have shown that these means of advertising are being lost in the background noise of everyday life.


Print is declining in use; many newspapers are now creating applications for electronic devices such as Apple’s IPad and changing their websites so consumers have to pay to read the content. Posters and billboards have been pasted on our streets and in our towns for many years and there are very few that are unusual or that stand out. They all have the same purpose – to sell, but with the average person being inundated with up to 5000 adverts per day (print, TV and radio) it is very easy for the messages to get lost in the advertising ‘overload’. Posters used to be informative, stating the many uses of the product being marketed; this changed into more basic posters with less copy and bolder, brighter colours. This worked as a new form of advertising; it was something that was different from the accepted norm and was quicker to view. But even this has become the norm, with messages unable to stand out from the surrounding environment and people’s busy lifestyles. As technology has advanced more people own a phone with access to the internet, or they own an ‘iPod’ which can lead to the listener being distracted and isolated; an entire mass-audience not looking at the advertisements around them. The younger generation (those under 35), have been labelled the ‘iPod Generation’ in reference to their continuous use of technology. Print is one medium that does not appeal to them, as they prefer to catch up on news or read books using technology rather than in newspapers or books due to their instant availability and ease of use.


After researching how TV advertising effectiveness has declined, it was found that authors had many different views on the subject. Many said that it wasn’t losing its influence on the audience, and that repetition was the main reason that the advertisements worked. This is correct to some degree, numerous people have done research into this area, all, to some extent finding that the first time the audience see an advert it has little influence, but the more times that people are exposed to the advert the more impact the commercial has, it creates a memory in the watchers mind which can affect their future purchases. TV has grown immensely in only a few years. The main terrestrial channels were originally all that were available, including the BBC channels, ITV and later Channel Four and Five. The BARB is the regulatory body that keeps statistics of how many people watch a channel. Looking at their multi-channel viewing summary, which goes back as far as 1992, it showed (for 1992) that there were ten channels (not including Channel Five as this wasn’t broadcast until 1997) and a further six channels from Sky (see appendix 4 page 63). The introduction of Sky TV, Virgin and Freeview has fragmented what once was a captive audience of five channels. By going through each year on the multi-channel viewing summary it is clear to see a gradual increase of channels year on year. Over 15 years the number has grown from 10 to over 500; this means that people are viewing more channels. Advertisers also have to pay more to get their adverts seen by the same amount of people in 2010 as would have seen it in 1992. The statistics show that from 14th to the 20th of September 1992 the viewing percentage for the top four main channels looked like this:

There were 10 channels at this point in 1992 but the top four were terrestrial channels – ones that everyone owned, so to be fair to all viewing audiences it was deemed right to only show these. BBC1 took up 24.3% of all viewings and ITV took 33.3%, this is a high percentage. Channel Four was new and it was aimed at a different target audience which are reflected in the results. More currently, from 13th to the 19th of September 2010 there are over 500 channels to choose from. The viewer can opt for a TV package and not only terrestrial. This is shown in the table for this time period:

The share of the percentage that the main five channels now hold is vastly different. This illustrates how much impact the increase of channels has had on the terrestrial channels, and how many have moved to other channels via other means. BBC 1 has lost 4.8% of its viewing share, which doesn’t seem like a large amount. This may be because the BBC shows the main news programmes. In stark contrast ITV has lost 17.1% of its audience this has had a large impact on the channel which in turn meant they had to gain more advertising revenues from companies to help keep them going. Compared to the other channels available these five still have the most viewings. The full table of statistics shows that at least 90% have less than 1% of the share, and some that have figures so small they didn’t register. While these have very little percentage compared to the main five, they still take viewers from them, and therefore companies need a larger advertising budget to put their advert out across enough channels to be seen.

Tell me what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s