Like most of our lives nowadays, advertisements and commercials have also moved online. What were once colorful commercials about cereal during breaks on our TV shows are now short videos between our Instagram feed posts. Advertising has gone fully digital.
After all, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be. As of June 2018, Instagram numbered 1 billion users, and that number has only been rising since. Thanks to this social media platform, a new career was also born – the influencer. These are people with big followings who have secured contracts with individual companies to promote their products to their followers in exchange for money.
The landscape of advertising is rapidly shifting. What was once a simple combination of innovation and creativity has now become an unpredictable game with arbitrary rules. You might think you have got the handle of how things work, but just the very next day, something as simple as a meme could wreck your entire marketing campaign. That is why it is vital to stay on top of all the latest technologies when promoting your products and services.
History of advertising
You might think that the concept of advertising and commercials is something relatively new, born of the minds of executives on Madison Avenue in the 50s. Still, the reality could not be more different. Archeologists have traced back the roots of marketing all the way to ancient Egypt, where merchants and craftsmen would use papyrus for advertising their products through drawn wall posters and sales messages, predecessors to modern flyers.
Egypt was not alone in this practice. Similar things were found across ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Some sources claim that some prehistoric civilizations in Asia and Africa even painted on walls and rocks as a means to advertise. For more information, click on this link: https://torontopubliclibrary.typepad.com/business_personal_finance/2011/10/a-history-of-advertising.html
During the middle ages, when literacy was surprisingly scarce compared to prehistoric times, instead of written wall posters, people used symbols of their trade such as boots, hats, clocks, etc., to indicate their services and promote them to the masses. Another way they used to market their goods was through the so-called “town criers,” people whose job it would be to announce general news and official announcements.
Soon enough, craftsmen began to pay these town criers to advertise their products to their towns. In a way, these town criers were the first iteration of mass media before the creation of newspapers and television. Read more about this peculiar profession here.
With the rise of the printed word and newspapers, advertising became increasingly easy. Suddenly, companies began to issue so-called trade cards, which were a primitive version of the current business cards, including the name and address of tradesmen, in some cases with prices for the products and services being offered.
As the printing press became more available to the general population, so did commercials in the newspapers! The first products to be advertised in newspapers were books and medicines in the 19th century, along with cigarettes which ironically promoted healthy lungs and delicacy for the wealthier classes. This is where the concept of the target audience first came to life, with certain cigarette brands being advertised to working-class men and others to upper-class women.
Unfortunately, the birth of the advertising age came with little regulation, and manufacturers were rarely asked to provide scientific proof for their claims. That is why you can often see advertisements from the 19th century promoting things like cocaine in medicines or radioactive substances in makeup.
Adapting to the new reality
By the start of the 20th century, advertising had become a serious and frequently sought-after profession. Large companies such as AT&T and the US Army used the services of advertising companies to come up with creative slogans to attract people to their cause. However, it was still a very volatile industry as the success of the company depended on an executive and his team of copywriters who could break off and split to form their own company or join another one at any time.
It was not long until sex and psychology joined the game of advertising. In fact, the first person to ever propose the use of sex in advertising was a woman! Helen Landsdowne came up with the copy “A Skin You Love To Touch” for the Woodsbury Soap Company. This was so successful that the company ended up using this slogan for the next 30 years.
Psychology was not immune from being weaponized in the field of advertising. Actually, the veteran of behavioral psychology, John B. Watson, contributed to it by declaring that the suggestibility of man could be used against him for marketing purposes. He used the fundamental emotions of love, fear, and hate to shape modern advertising, which proved extremely useful and established the place of psychology in marketing.
The modern advertising approach has employed feelings in quite a different way than Watson did. Social media’s power is that through installing an application, it gives them access to our information, which identifies us as part of a target group. Building on that, it is easy to create a profile of the ideal consumer who would buy the product the companies are aiming to sell.
However, unlike the advertisers of yore, current marketers are not looking just to put their promotions out there for anyone to see. They want their target audiences to see them, and they want to measure if their targets are coming true. That’s why we have services such as Searchific, which provide marketers with clear metrics such as pay per click numbers which tell them how many potential consumers clicked on their ad.
While this may seem trivial to you, it is essential to social media marketers, who fight for the attention of potential consumers every day. The next time you see an ad on social media, maybe click on it if you are interested; you never know who it could help! Your click might be the one that changes everything!