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  Chapter Fifteen:

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The importance of advertising in the national economy increased slowly during the first half of the century and rapidly during the second half.
A turning point occurred around 1950, with the advent of television. After midcentury, as the chart shows, per capita expenditures on advertising nearly tripled in constant dollars. In 1999, various enterprises targeted $759 of advertising to every American consumer. 

Newspapers, television, and direct mail attracted similar shares of advertising expenditures. Together, they represented about 70 percent of the total. Newspapers specialized in retail promotions and classified advertising. Television was the dominant medium for marketing branded consumer products and political candidates. Direct mail catalogs offered a wide range of merchandise, especially clothing and luxury goods. Other important media were magazines, radio, the yellow pages of telephone directories, and increasingly, the Internet. A wide fringe of minor media included billboards, flyers, coupons, athletic sponsorships, and telephone solicitations. 

By the end of the century, the share of newspaper space devoted to advertising had grown, and commercials cut more deeply into television program time. About three-fifths of all advertising dollars were spent on national campaigns, while the balance was spent locally. 

The skepticism about the efficacy of advertising that once prevailed in many sectors of the economy almost completely disappeared by the end of the century. Enterprises that had no retail customers nevertheless advertised for good will. Pharmaceutical manufacturers promoted prescription products to the general public. Protest groups advertised for supporters. Charities advertised for contributions. Even colleges and hospitals learned how to market their services through the mass media.

Chapter 15 chart 3

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series T 444; SA 1998, table 2; and NYT 1999, page 354.


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