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Your guide to advertising

Click the links below to find out all about the advertising industry, its terminology, useful templates and more...

Key advertising sectors


Cinema advertising is a highly impactful medium which allows advertisers to showcase their creatives on screens within cinema auditoriums before a captive audience who have paid to see a film on the big screen. The adverts run sequentially to form an ad reel which precedes a selection of film trailers followed by a feature film.

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Different social media channels should have different roles. Use Twitter for customer service, Facebook for building a community, Instagram for showcasing your products. It can be tightly targeted to audiences and locations with campaigns designed to drive footfall, engagement or awareness.


Investment into Google and Bing will ensure that your brand is discoverable online.


This is a type of online advertising on web sites, which includes many different formats and sizes, and may contain text, images, video and audio.

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Out of Home has developed significantly over the last few years introducing far more digital screens to the range of billboards. It reaches 98% of the UK population every week. It is a very flexible medium, you can buy a broadcast campaign that reaches a broad audience or you can focus on a handful of sites that are within close proximity to a specific location

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National, regional, local press are still one of the most trusted media, reaching over 90% of the UK population each month. Most titles now have a digital offering, which can be bought as one package.

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Magazines are also hugely trusted by readers with levels of trust at over 60%. Published monthly or weekly, they also have digital platforms that can be bought alongside print as a package.

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In the UK, we listen to lots of radio. It’s an increasingly powerful medium for captive audiences and listeners are at their highest levels, at 36 million. It can be produced to fit any budget or target audience.

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TV can be bought on a regional basis. Costs will vary month by month and by audience group. ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky are the main commercial channels. TV reaches 98% of the population in any one month. 

TV is rocket fuel for brands: it delivers great effectiveness and efficiency at minimal risk. 2017 saw 785 new or returning advertisers coming onto TV.


Explore why TV works; find useful advice about getting started on TV, whatever your budget, and gain inspiration from other advertisers who have dipped their toes in the TV waters with great success. You can also find out about planning and buying TV; how to get the best creativity you can, and a whole lot more.

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Jargon busting

Frequently asked questions

How agencies can help?

They will bring clarity to the task
Agencies ask a lot of questions. Be prepared for this! They want to know as much as you do about your business before they make a recommendation on how to achieve your objectives. And the more you talk to them, the better you will understand the opportunities for your brand. e.g Try something new today They will uncover new customer insight
Agencies have a knack for getting under the skin of customers. They will help you to understand not just who is and isn't a customer but why they are and aren't and what you need to do to either increase their value or bring them into the fold. e.g. Dirt is Good They will draw parallels between your business and others
As a business owner you will no doubt be very focussed on YOUR business, with no time to look more broadly. Agencies will help you to draw inspiration from what else is happening in the lives of your customers, in your category and in your region. Simply looking up from the day to day can be hugely influential. e.g. An overseas case study?
They will dream BIG on your behalf
Unencumbered by the internal restraints of the business their ideas will be ambitious. So expect the unexpected. This is an important part of the creative process, testing the boundaries between what's possible and what really is a bridge too far. These ideas will also help you to understand the direction you are heading in. You'll know instinctively what feels right for your business. e.g. Mann Summers (instead of Ann Summers….)
They will help you to pull all of your communications together
Agencies (the good ones at least) now think about how different communications work alongside each other: Packaging, CRM, E-CRM, PR, In-store, Online….. through to SEO, PPC….and more broadly to Above-the-line media channels

Which channels, when?

Over the last 20 years the number of media channels and opportunities has exploded. For the un-initiated this can look very confusing. But it really isn't. Each of the trade bodies will go into detail on the pros and cons of each of their channels but this next section is a ready reckoner that will help you to understand which channels can be used to meet which objective. 1. A new brand to market or a brand with low awareness Focus on those channels that will drive awareness amongst a broad audience: TV, Radio, Print, OOH, Facebook will all do this very well - and depending on your brand and budget one or two of these will offer a better solution than the others. Click for examples 2. An established brand that has to fight hard for market share either every day (e.g. FMCG brands….) or during particularly competitive periods of the year (e.g.holiday companies in January) Focus on activity that will keep brand awareness high for as long a period as possible: Sponsorship works well here, radio advertising can also be phased smartly to keep brand awareness high. Click for examples 3. A brand that needs to change perception An unpredictable partnership or sponsorship can work well here. Click for examples 4. A brand message that has a time limit e.g. a sale or an offer You'll need to build awareness as quickly as possible in this instance. TV, Radio, Print and Facebook do this very well. OOH can also be useful here….. Click for examples

5. An online brand or a category where search is the first port of call for most people (e.g. recruitment companies, restaurants, insurance brands…) Investing in PPC (pay per click) would be a good idea to make sure you are high up the search listings. But also review your SEO to make sure organic search is working hard for you. Bear in mind this is very short term, whilst it will drive traffic to your site it won't build your brand/awareness and so often needs to be considered alongside further activity.

What should I budget?

Budgets are always the big question. There are a number of ways to set budgets. In reality, the way that most advertisers set budgets is either …how much can we afford to spend or how much did we spend last year + inflation? This is a good start point. But with all of the insight that we now have on how media works we can set budgets more effectively than ever before. The best way to set budgets is to take a few different bearings - and then work these numbers into your business plan. 1. Budget to be competitive
A media agency will be able to help you to understand what your competitors spend. There is a smart calculation that we use, based on decades of analysis, that suggests in order to grow 1 point of market share you need to pitch your budgets 10% higher than your competitors (we call this Excess Share of Voice) 2. Budget to achieve your sales target
If you are already actively recruiting customers online then you will have a view on your Cost per Acquisition (i.e. how much you spend in order to attract 1 customer) so we can use this to work back from your growth sales targets to a required budget. 3. Budget to reach an awareness goal
You may decide that if you can drive awareness of your brand amongst 50/60/70% and then convert x% of them to customers - then you will hit your growth targets. In which case your media agency will be able to tell you how much you need to spend in order to hit that awareness target.

What does media cost?

In reality media costs vary significantly. It depends on demand, time of the year, location, volume, format – so these rule of thumb costs are very much a guide and no substitute for getting professional media advice.


Local station <£1k – Per week (30”)

Regional station <£3k – Per week (30”)

National station >£10k – Per week (30”)


Local newspaper <£2k – Per half page insertion

National Newspaper <£25k – Per half page insertion


National £6k – Average cost/single page

OUT OF HOME (Billboards)

Individual sites £250+ – Per fortnight

Regional <£40k – Per fortnight


Regional >£10k – Per week

National £100k – Per week

(individual screens can also be bought)


£5-£6 CPM – Static image


Varies significantly


£30-45 per ’000 – Standard size/weight


Varies significantly by region, month, audience, channel

How do I create a mail piece?

Royal Mail Made Easy partners can help you design, print and evaluate your mail piece. Here is a directory of partners: https://www.royalmail.com/business-marketing/mail-made-easy/directory. Additionally, you can find guides and other useful materials on Royal Mail MarketReach website:www.marketreach.co.uk

Is direct mail as expensive as it seems?

Door drops are a low cost and an effective way of reaching you existing and new customers. Mail is a channel that achieves a much better ROI, not to mention that each mail piece reaches 1.1 people in a household and gets engaged with over 3 times. We also know from research that on average door drops live in a household for 5.3 days. You certainly couldn’t say the same for digital communication.

How can I trust that my D2D / DM get delivered?

Royal Mail is a brand that you can trust to deliver. We’re also ABC accredited which gives you extra reassurance when posting you campaigns.

Mail seems a bit old fashioned. I’m a contemporary brand, so struggling to see the fit?

Mail and digital media were made for each other. A fully integrated multichannel campaign increases the audience you're able to reach and gives you much better ROI. A lot of marketers use Mail as an effective way to cut through the noise and engage with customers. Additionally, the advancements in modern printing technique enable be creative as possible with every piece of mail you send. You can also use Shazam as well as QR codes to integrate your multichannel campaigns.

Where do I start with planning a door to door campaign?

Follow these simple steps to a successful D2D campaign.

1. Decide what you would like to send and go with a design & format that stands out from other mail.

2. Decide who you would like to reach. Understand who your best customers are and where they live.

3. Come up with a message that resonates with your audience. Are you able to give an incentive for people to respond?

4. Come up with the plan. Think about how the door drop fits in with all your other marketing communications. Think about the actions you would like your customers to take: visit your store, website, phone or email you.

5. Set your objectives. Have a clear idea about what you want your door drop to achieve, e.g. increase footfall, drive sales online, or generate leads to follow up.

How can I find new customers?

You can find new customers just like the ones you have already. Royal Mail can look at your existing customers and find people that look very similar. There are two targeting tools used to help you find the right customers and Royal Mail will select the best tool for the task you have.

Royal Mail can help you plan your door drop every step of the way and we will help you find the right customers. The Royal Mail helpline is 0345 266 0858 and an adviser will be happy to help you start planning. Royal Mail also offers First Time User discounts.

What format and weight of the Door Drop should choose?

The cost of your door drop will be calculated based on the weight and size of the piece you are producing. Speak with your printer about different options.

Who can take care of printing my Door Drop?

Once you have decided on a message you can work with a printer who will help you find the most cost-effective way of producing your door drop. You will want to obtain more than one quote to ensure you are getting the best deal, but it is worth considering quality as part of the package, as poor quality can affect response rates.


Agency structures

Different type of agencies will specialise in different elements of communications e.g. brand strategy and creativity, media planning and buying, PR and events, Shopper marketing, search and affiliates…. Some of the larger ones will have departments for each.


Broadly most agencies have a similar structure: your business will be managed by an account director who will be responsible for day to day management. There will be a planner (more focussed on the brief) or a strategist (looking at the longer term challenges/opportunities for your business). And a creative director (who leads the creative work). Media agencies will also have a buying or investment director (focussed on negotiating the cost of media).


Direct mail can increase your return on investment by as much as 12%. It encompasses a wide variety of marketing materials. These include brochures, catalogues, postcards, newsletters and sales letters. It is an effective way to reach out to new and existing clients.

Door drops take business into the heart of the home, giving you access to new customers.

In the home, door drops may be read, shared and kept by customers and referred back to when they make decisions about household purchases.

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