Postgraduate Courses in Advertising

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Do you see yourself as a modern day Don Draper? While the casual sexism and day drinking aren’t part and parcel of the job nowadays, this field remains an interesting and lucrative career choice. In fact, modern commercialism is fuelled by advertising, along with the psychological techniques which have been implemented in this area since the 1920s. Cleverly utilised, a campaign can change the way you think about a brand by tapping into your subconscious; it can appeal to your base desires or thought processes.

In a way, this is a form of propaganda. The man who invented what we now know deem to be the main advertising conventions even wrote a book with that exact title. In the 1928 text ‘Propaganda’, Edward L. Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

What is advertising?

People often confuse the term with marketing or branding, but these have separate definitions which refer to related areas of the process. Fundamentally, advertising is a consumer’s journey from burgeoning awareness of a brand to their final purchase. Imagine your target consumers as being on a scale. On one end, you have brand-loyal repeat customers; while at the other end of the spectrum, your potential customers haven’t even heard of you. Advertising is the funnel you use to move the potential customers from any stage of the scale towards purchase. Generally, it’s through that the bigger the investment, the harder it is to push customers towards purchase. There are lots of contradicting theories when it comes to the mechanics of how best to maneuver those consumers along; most postgraduate courses in advertising will take you through these the prevailing concepts and systems.

Advertising in a Technological Age

Thanks to the advent of technology, things have evolved dramatically in the past few years. Smartphones, tablets, and computers have changed the way in which we, as a society consume media. Bots, data processing and algorithms now make up a large part of the advertising world. Your online movements are always being tracked, and your digital behaviours and spending habits are all constantly being analysed to find out how to best sell products to you.

This has ushered in the era of inbound marketing; SEO rankings, AdWords campaigns, viral marketing, social media management and the newly recognised importance of a maintaining a strong online presence have replaced your standard TV spots or billboard campaigns to a large extent. While methods and practices within in the industry have developed alongside these shifting trends and technologies, at the end of the day, the fundamental aims remain the same. You are selling an idea, product or service and getting those customers to part with their cold hard cash – or the digital equivalent.

Areas of Advertising

No matter what area you end up working in, it’s important that you have a full and practical understanding of the various facets of marketing, advertising, sales and public relations. You’re not always going to be the person cultivating an idea and rolling it out; most likely you might, in fact, be a cog in a complex communications machine.

At present, the overarching disciplines of most postgraduate courses can be divided into two fields, creative and executive. As you move into your career, creatively, you might be developing ideas or content in a smaller agency, or be responsible for the content of a tweet in a global campaign. While on the executive side of things, you might be designing and implementing strategic economic policies, cold calling potential clients or crunching the numbers as to how to appeal to your base. They are very different but equally important disciplines.

Media plays an intrinsic role in the selling process as this is your conduit to convey ideas. Private newspapers, magazines and radio are funded mostly by advertising; in recent years, the decline of traditional media means that the successful publications, i.e. the ones which are still running and profitable, have diversified. TV and cinema are both highly expensive to create content for as well as purchasing ‘spots’ in; meanwhile, the advent of VOD sites such as Netflix have begun to shake this market as they are based on a subscription model. Other popular options include posters or direct mail outs, which account for the large quantities of flyers going through letterboxes in urban/suburban regions. Meanwhile; ambient and guerrilla advertising are complex to implement and hard to get right. Undeniably, the future is in digital and online advertising, which has mushroomed in both popularity and profitability in the past decade.

Postgraduate Courses in Advertising: What to Expect

No matter what medium you use to you advertise through, what’s most important is that you understand the habits of your customers. Who are they, and what do they want?

In line with the industry, courses in this field tend to be highly practical and project-based. The goal of most postgraduate courses in adverting is to give you a comprehensive overview of the realm, as well as practical real-world advice in replicated professional settings.


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