Advertising is a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service. “While now central to the contemporary global economy and the reproduction of global production networks, it is only quite recently that advertising has been more than a marginal influence on patterns of sales and production. The formation of modern advertising was intimately bound up with the emergence of new forms of monopoly capitalism around the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century as one element in corporate strategies to create, organize and where possible control markets, especially for mass produced consumer goods. Mass production necessitated mass consumption, and this in turn required a certain homogenization of consumer tastes for final products. At its limit, this involved seeking to create ‘world cultural convergence’, to homogenize consumer tastes and engineer a ‘convergence of lifestyle, culture and behaviors among consumer segments across the world’.”
Many advertisements are designed to generate increased consumption of those products and services through the creation and reinvention of the "brand image" . For these purposes, advertisements sometimes embed their persuasive message with factual information. Every major medium is used to deliver these messages, including television, radio, cinema, magazines, newspapers, video games, the Internet, carrier bags and billboards. Advertising is often placed by an advertising agency on behalf of a company or other organization.
Organizations that frequently spend large sums of money on advertising that sells what is not, strictly speaking, a product or service include political parties, interest groups, religious organizations, and military recruiters. Non-profit organizations are not typical advertising clients, and may rely on free modes of persuasion, such as public service announcements.
Money spent on advertising has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2007, spending on advertising has been estimated at over $150 billion in the
While advertising can be seen as necessary for economic growth, it is not without social costs. Unsolicited Commercial Email and other forms of spam have become so prevalent as to have become a major nuisance to users of these services, as well as being a financial burden on internet service providers. Advertising is increasingly invading public spaces, such as schools, which some critics argue is a form of child exploitation.