Media – Types of Media, Characteristics, Advantages & Disadvantages

Media simply refers to a vehicle or means of message delivery system to carry an ad message to a targeted audience. Media like TV, Radio, Print, Outdoor and Internet are instruments to convey an advertising message to the public.

The main task of media planners is to select the most appropriate media channels that can effectively communicate the advertising message to a targeted audience. Hence, it is essential for media planners to: 

  1. Keep up with latest media trends

  2. Keep up with New technological developments

  3. Determine long and short term effects of different media

  4. Analyse Strengths and Weaknesses of different media

Factors determining Media selection

  1. Nature of product

  2. Market requirements

  3. Advertising objectives

  4. Distribution strategy

  5. Nature of message and appeal

  6. Advertising Budget

  7. Competitors choices

  8. Media availability

  9. Penetration

  10. Size and Nature of business

Types of Media / Media Classification

Media can be classified into four types:

  1. Print Media (Newspapers, Magazines)

  2. Broadcast Media (TV, Radio)

  3. Outdoor or Out of Home (OOH) Media

  4. Internet

Print Media

(i) Newspaper

  1. Newspaper is a major source of information for a large number of readers.

  2. It may be National or local, daily or weekly newspaper.

  3. Newspapers allow presentation of detailed messages which can be read at reader’s conveyance.

  4. It allows prompt delivery of detailed coverage of news and other information with interesting features for readers.

  5. It is a high involvement media as readers are required to devote some effort in reading the message.

  6. It is available to masses at a very low cost.

Classification of Newspapers

  1. National Newspapers

  2. Daily newspapers (Local/Regional)

  3. Special Audience newspapers

Types of Ads in Newspapers

  1. Classified advertisement – Advertisements arranged according to product or service

  2. Display advertisement – Ads that use illustrations, photos, visual elements, may be National or Local.

  3. Special Inserts – Tender notices, Public notices, Shifting of office etc.

  4. Free Standing Insert – Pre-printed ad inserted in newspapers folds that fall out when the reader opens it and attract immediate attention


  1. Flexibility

  2. Geographic and language selectivity

  3. Widespread coverage

  4. Offers penetration

  5. Reader involvement

  6. Cheap media with high frequency

  7. High repetitive value and quick response


  1. Poor Presentation and Quality

  2. Short life span

  3. Limited selectivity with regard to lifestyles

  4. Hard to reach illiterate and poor people

(ii) Magazines

  1. A Magazine is a specialized advertising media that serves educational, informational, entertainment and other specialized needs of consumers, businesses, and industries.

  2. A Magazine allows presentation of a detailed ad message along with photos, illustrations, colours etc.

  3. It is a high involvement media as readers pay a premium price for it and magazines are not dumped after reading.

  4. Magazines can be classified into Local/Regional/National or Weekly/Monthly/Quarterly Magazines.

Types of Magazines

Consumer magazines – Magazines bought by general public for information and entertainment. It can be used to reach a specific target audience. It may be a –

  1. General Interest Magazine      

  2. Glamour Magazine

  3. Film Magazine

  4. Special Interest Magazine

  5. Women Lifestyle Magazine

Business Publications – Business magazines includes publications such as trade journals for businesses, industries or occupations. It may be published weekly monthly or quarterly. Generally, readership includes business managers and executives, businessmen, business students etc. It may be categorized into –

  1. Business Publications

  2. Professional Publications

  3. Trade Journals

  4. Industrial and Institutional Publications


  1. Long Life

  2. Better reproduction

  3. Highly selective, avoids waste of circulation

  4. Can create image, prestige or reputation

  5. Reader involvement

  6. Allows services like `split runs’

  7. Can reach specialized groups


  1. High cost

  2. Limited reach and frequency

  3. Long response time

  4. Low flexibility

  5. May face competition

Broadcast Media

(i) Television Advertising

  1. TV is a principal source of information and entertainment for people exposed to mass media.

  2. It is believed to be the most authoritative, influential, exciting medium for reaching very large audience.

  3. It combines visual images, sound, motion and colour to achieve viewer’s empathy.

  4. It allows development of creative and imaginative ad messages in a unique way.

  5. It is considered intrusive in nature as the audience have no control over the nature and pace of advertisements.


  1. Powerful audio-visual media

  2. Wide coverage with effective cost

  3. Attention – intrusive in nature

  4. High selectivity and flexibility


  1. High cost

  2. Short lived message

  3. Limited attention by viewers

  4. Zapping – changing channels

  5. Zipping – fast-forwarding commercial to avoid commercials

  6. Intrusive in nature

(ii) Radio

  1. Radio is a premier mass medium for users and advertisers.

  2. It has a wide spread reach.

  3. It delivers the ad message to a large number of people across the length and breadth of a country.

  4. Commercial broadcasting is undertaken in major cities even rural areas.

  5. Radio time in India is usually sold in slots of 7, 10, 15, 20 or 30 seconds.

  6. It is one of the most personal medium and offers selectivity, cost efficiency and flexibility advantages over other media.

  7. Efficiency of a radio ad depends upon the precision of script, accompanying sounds and level of distortion

According to Rebecca Piirto: “In some ways radio listeners act more like magazine subscribers than television viewers. They tend to listen habitually, at predictable times, to stations with narrowly targeted formats. They are loyal, identifiable and much cheaper to reach than TV audience.”


  1. Wide coverage

  2. Helps to reach lower income people, illiterate people

  3. Mental imagery – encourages audience to use imagination

  4. Offers high selectivity

  5. Cost efficient

  6. Flexible


  1. Lack of visual elements

  2. Short lived message

  3. Audience fragmentation

  4. Limited research data

  5. Clutter – Too many ad messages 

Support Media

(i) Outdoor advertising

  1. It is usually used as a supportive medium by advertisers.

  2. It includes bill boards, boarding, neon signs posters etc.

  3. It can generate considerable reach and frequency level at low cost.

  4. Useful when introducing a new product.

  5. Helps to remind the customers.

  6. Helps to generate sales at point of purchase/point of sale.


  1. Point of Place (POP) Advantage

  2. Geographic flexibility

  3. Continuity

  4. Efficient and cheap

  5. Flexible and Creative impact


  1. Limited message

  2. Wastage in terms of coverage

  3. Limited effectiveness

  4. Message fades due to over exposure over time

  5. Public criticism

(ii) Transit Advertising

  1. Uses billboards, neon signs and electronic messages.

  2. It is targeted at users of various modes of transportation.

  3. Advertising rates depend on the amount of traffic which passes every day.


  1. Long exposure

  2. Exposure frequency

  3. Geographic selectivity

  4. Low cost


  1. Waste coverage

  2. Creative limitations

  3. Audience mood

  4. Image of advertiser – effect is difficult to measure

  5. Brief message

(iii) Cinema and Video Advertising

  1. Cinema is a popular source of entertainment comprising of audience from all classes and socio-economic groups of society.

  2. Films are watched by a significant number of people everyday.

  3. It involves use of cinema halls and video tapes to deliver the ad message.

  4. Commercials are shown before films and previews carrying ad message.

  5. Advertisers may prepare a presentation for projection or 35mm ad films based on a script.

  6. Similar to TV, it also combines sight, sound, colour and movement to deliver a creative message.

  7. Video rentals include messages by local advertisers.

  8. Advertisement can also be displayed by cable operators.


  1. Large exposure

  2. Audience mood

  3. Selectivity

  4. Recall

  5. Lack of clutter


  1. Audience irritation

  2. Limited reach

  3. Limited frequency


  1. Internet is a worldwide medium that provides means of exchanging information through a series of interconnected computers.

  2. It is a rapidly growing medium of advertising.

  3. It is a future medium which offers limitless advertising opportunities.

  4. It involves use of world wide web to showcase a website or e-commerce portal to the world.

  5. Advertising through internet involves email marketing, social media marketing, online ads and mobile marketing.

  6. It provides a sophisticated graphic user interface to users.

  7. It is accessible to anyone with a computer and broadband connection.

Type of Internet Advertisements

  1. Websites – Online Brochure of product/services, Virtual Office

  2. Ad buttons – Icons which provide link to advertiser`s website

  3. Ad banners –  Creative & Dynamic Display ads

  4. Sponsorship – Companies sponsor bloggers to write about them.

  5. Classified ads – Similar to newspaper ads

  6. E-mail – Electronic mails carrying ad message


  1. Interactive medium

  2. Global medium

  3. Generates immediate response

  4. Provides high selectivity and flexibility

  5. Gives detailed information (in depth info and reviews)

  6. Reaches B2B users easily


  1. Lack mass media efficiency

  2. Targeting and research costs are high

  3. Slow downloads

  4. Cost of PC is high

  5. Security is a primary concern

  6. Not persuasive

Also Read: Steps to develop a Media Plan, Media planning & Strategy development Activities

#BroadcastMedia #PrintMedia #SupportMedia #InternetAdvertising #Outdoormedia #MediaClassification #TypesofMedia #NewspaperAdvertising #CinemaandVideoAdvertising #TransitAdvertising #MagazineAdvertising

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