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A Brief History of Advertising: 4 Things You Should Know

In an increasingly digital world, businesses can’t thrive without shelling out a significant amount for advertising. Nowadays, digital platforms have overtaken traditional media in terms of relevance and reach. You must be visible online if you want to make it big in your industry.

We’ve traced back the roots of advertising as we know it today to understand how it got there. You will want to be where your customers are, but establishing an online presence alone is not enough. Advertising your brand and products is a huge step toward reaching potential customers who may otherwise be navigating through the noise of saturated marketing offers. 

Where It All Began

Advertising has come a long way. In the beginning, the only way for companies to communicate with their prospects is through outdoor and print ads.

It gave birth to the term “word-of-mouth advertising.” This means customers interested in the products will make it a point to bring it up in their everyday conversations. Essentially, this type of advertising is free. Customers who experience something beyond their expectations want to spread the word about the product themselves—at no cost.

Businesses exploit this customer behavior by encouraging publicity activities and inviting customers to recommend the products to family, friends, and acquaintances. This strategy has such a long-lasting effect that even modern advertising still uses the word-of-mouth tactic to capture their target customers.

In 1974, the first ever newspaper advertisement was printed. It was an announcement seeking a buyer for an Oyster Bay, Long Island, estate. Next came the billboards. Jared Bell invented the first billboard in America, advertising a circus.

Reaching out to customers took another interesting turn with direct advertising. This was an expensive option, as it often involved sending out postcards.

During the Golden Age

Considered the Golden Age of Advertising, the period between the 1900s and 2000s was when radio stations and television came into play. This led to more direct communication between customers and businesses.

Launched in 1922, radio advertising allowed bands to convey their unique selling proposition by addressing customers directly. Businesses would pay radio stations to play their advertisements on air. Next to come in was TV advertising. The first television commercial aired in 1941 by the Bulova Watch Company.

It was the peak of traditional advertising, starting a trend where businesses heavily invested in advertising their brands and engaging their potential customers. However, it was quite expensive; hence, many businesses still supplement their advertising strategy with newspapers and billboards.

The Advent of the Internet

When the internet became more widespread, many companies turned to online advertising to grow their customer base and establish their online presence. Digital advertisements have become a trend.

In 1994, the first online ad was created. It was in the form of a banner ad that drove customers to a landing page. Yahoo! paved the way for other search engines as it was known to be a pioneer of the pay-per-click advertisement model. Businesses would only pay Yahoo! once their ads were clicked on by internet users. This also started the use of keywords and phrases to attract more people who look up search terms related to the brand that pays for the advertisement.

Many businesses invest in search engine ads. In recent years, Google has dominated the search engine game. Running Google ads is one of the most effective ways to grow one’s reach, establish their brand identity, reach the right audience, and cultivate them for better conversions.

Eventually, search engine ads gave way to social media ads. Businesses began advertising on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and TikTok. With billions of users worldwide, social platforms are the best places to be if one wants to expand their reach and solidify their online presence. Social media advertising has become a strong foundation for every business’s advertising strategy.

Think Mobile First

Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

While online advertising has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, it has taken a different form in the modern digital age, whether you start selling stickers online or selling your services. Nowadays, people use their smartphones and other mobile devices to surf online. This means that advertisements must be optimized for mobile viewing.

Many ads are now tailored for mobile devices, meaning users can view them properly on their smartphones and tablets. Personalized ads have become increasingly common as it can be possible for brands to target customers through their online behavior. Ads should be able to adjust intuitively, depending on the device users are viewing them from.

This means different ad formats and placements must be considered to reach all the relevant audiences. Facebook, for example, has an instant experience ad. This particular ad can only be viewed on mobile devices. It opens up a landing page with interactive features, allowing users to swipe through photos and click on several relevant links.

Brands that ignore the importance of mobile advertising will miss out on the wealth of opportunities it presents.

Key Takeaways

Looking back at the evolution of advertising can help businesses understand the latest trends and developments. You can weigh your options easily as you choose the best place to run your ads. Yes, ads are everywhere, but it can make a world of difference if you know which platform can house your ads the best to maximize your budget and get a better return on investment.

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