Capsule History of Advertising
Advertising is as old as civilization itself. The earliest beginnings of advertising, of course, are impossible to pinpoint, but there are several examples dating back thousands of years. Clay tablets traced to ancient Babylon have been found with messages that promoted an ointment dealer and a shoemaker. In the ruins of ancient Egypt, explorers have found papyrus posters offering rewards for the return of runaway slaves. In the ruins of the Roman city of Pompeii, archaeologists have discovered political advertisements painted on walls along streets. However, until the advent of mass selling in the nineteenth century, advertising played only a minor role in the conducting of business. In early Greek and Roman days, signboards were placed above the doors of business establishments, and later, the town crier was an important advertising medium throughout Europe and England during the medieval period. In short, advertising was a well established part of the social environment of early civilizations.
After the invention of movable type accelerated printing in the mid fifteenth century, handbills, posters, and then newspapers were used in increasing quantities to advertisement products. In fact, the first printed advertisement in English was produced in about 1480 which was a handbill that announced a prayer book for sale. The development of Rail road transportation enabled advertising industry to send its products to consumers who lived far from the manufacturing plants. Advertising assumed national character as business people used both magazines and newspapers to broaden their markets.
Not surpnsingiy. the increased importance of advertising in the marketing process led to the birth of the erasing agency, an organization that specializes in providing
advertising services to its clients. The roots of the modern day agency can be traced to Volney B Palmer of Philadelphia. In 1840s Palmer bought large amounts of space in various newspapers at a discount and then resold the space at higher rates to advertisers. That situation changed in the late nineteenth century when the advertising agency of N. W. Ayer and Son was founded. Ayer and Son offered to plan, create, and execute a complete advertising campaign for their customers, by 1900, the advertising agency became the focal point of creative planning, and advertising was firmly established as a profession.
The industrial revolution has brought new era to advertising. Manufacturers, with the aid of newly invented machines, were able to mass produce their products. Mass production, however, also required mass consumption and a mass market. Advertising was a tremendous aid in reaching this new mass audience.
The following events/advents caused major changes in advertising:
- The railroad linked different parts of the world, making it possible for manufacturers to distribute their goods from one part of the world to another.
- Shift in population from rural to urban areas has widened the markets for manufacturers.
- The invention of new communication media, the telephone, typewriter, high speed printing press, motion pictures, photography, and mail delivery etc. made it easier for people to communicate with one another.
- Economic production increased dramatically and people had more disposable income to spend on new products.
This improved economic and communication climate helped advertising thrive. As newspapers and magazines circulation increased and new technological advances were made at the turn of the 19th century, advertising developed new slogans, better copywriters and artists, and improved methods of analyzing products, media, and markets. The advent of radio and a further improvement in the techniques of advertising, such as copy testing, the study of psychological appeals, and plans for integrated campaigns, characterized the 1920. During that decade, advertisers increasingly used research methods, such as readership studies and audience measurement.
This new profession, however, was not without its problems. There were also advertisements that were deceptive and grossly exaggerated, so a strong movement to
regulate advertising was begun in the 1910s. This involved both federal and state laws and control. Systems initiated by responsible advertising leaders to wipe out fraudulent advertising also began within the advertising profession.
The growth of advertising from the end of the war in 1945 to the early 1990s can only be described as spectacular. The changeover from a war economy to a consumer economy prompted a spurt in advertising as manufacturers hurried to meet the demand for all the goods and services that people had put off buying because of the war. Also during this period several significant developments took place. The most important was probably television’s rise as a national advertising medium. TV growth had an impact on both radio and magazines. Radio became a medium used primarily by local advertisers. Magazines that aimed at specialized audiences attracted more advertisers, but general interest publications could not compete with TV and eventually were ignored by advertisers. Second, the consumer became a more powerful force in the marketplace. Responding to increased consumer pressure, the agencies introduced attractive advertising during the 1970s. Third the direct advertising (much of it done through the mail) increased by more than 800 percent from 1950 to 1980. This increase was due to the growth of computerized mailing lists, the emergence of the telephone as a marketing tool, and the expanded use of credit card shopping.
The 1980 s and 1990s was the media environment for advertising change drastically. Cable television opened up dozens of new and specialized channels that siphoned advertising dollars away from the major TV networks. Video cassettes and computerized data services such as Prodigy have opened up new avenues for advertising.