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Digital Media

Transformations in Human Communication

Edited By Paul Messaris and Lee Humphreys

The age of digital media has given rise to a new social world. It is a world in which the transmission of information from the few to the many is steadily being supplanted by the multi-directional flow of facts, lies, and ideas. It is a world in which hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily depositing large amounts of personal details in publicly accessible databases. It is a world in which interpersonal relationships are increasingly being conducted in the virtual sphere. Above all, this is a world that seems to be veering off in unpredictable ways from the trends of the immediate past. This book is a probing examination of that world, and of the changes that it has ushered into our lives.

In more than thirty essays by a wide range of scholars, this must-have second edition examines the impact of digital media in six areas – information, persuasion, community, gender and sexuality, surveillance and privacy, and cross-cultural communication – and offers an invaluable guide for students and scholars alike. With one exception, all essays are completely new or revised for this volume.

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Chapter 11: How Digital Media Have Influenced the Visual Element in Advertising (Edward F. McQuarrie / Barbara J. Phillips)


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How Digital Media Have Influenced the Visual Element in Advertising

Edward F. McQuarrie and Barbara J. Phillips

By visual element, we mean the use of pictures, images, designs, and arrangements in advertising (McQuarrie & Phillips, forthcoming; Messaris, 1997). Within the vast realm encompassed by commercial communication and persuasion, our focus in this chapter will be print advertising, especially magazine advertising, for branded consumer goods. Much, then, is left out: we will say nothing about television commercials on the one hand, or political advertising on the other. In the same vein, we focus on the external impacts of digital media; this is not a study of digital marketing, and we do not consider ads conveyed in digital media. We focus on how the new digital media have altered advertising in the old preexisting media, which continue to attract many billions of dollars of spending.

The explosion of digital media has had two major impacts on advertising in the older print media. The first is economic at root and ecological in its effect: in the digital media, color pictures are nearly free. It costs no more to paint the consumer’s screen with a rich color image than to throw up black and white text. It costs no more to pay a graphic designer to craft images than to pay a writer to craft a screen full of text. The ecological consequence is that consumers get surrounded by rich full...

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