Advertising has roots in ancient Egypt, Pompeii, Song dynasty China, and Europe in the middle ages. From papyrus messages on the walls to bamboo flutes being played to sell candy, human civilization had always used some kind of form of expression to inform their town or city of the whereabouts of their business and products. The invention of the printing press was a game changer in the 15th century, leading to advertising as we know it in capitalist societies today. Next came the inventions of the radio, television, and the internet, revolutionizing the way how brands send their messages and how consumers respond to them. By looking at the past, we can understand the future of advertising. As technology advances, we find that traditional advertising doesn’t entirely disappear, but adapt to the changes.
Digital Advertising Today
Advertising is a large part of marketing, a combination of promotion, product, price, and place. “Advertising is almost the same as it was in the mad men era,” said Jeff Rosenblum, executive producer of the 2013 film Naked Brand, in his interview with Bloomberg. “Digital [technology] changed the way we communicate but advertising took an old model and used that technology.” What were used as banner ads on newspapers are now banner ads on websites. Junk mail is now spam e-mail. Technological advances expand prior forms of advertising while offering marketers choices on how to connect to broader audiences (Ryan, 2009).
Digital Behavior Trends
Web 2.0 is the evolution in the way people are using technology (Ryan, 2009). According to Understanding Digital Marketing, the technology trends influencing consumer behavior includes:
Space and time are no longer limitations when it comes to communicating with people around the world. Consumers are using e-mail, IMs, text messaging, VoIPs, and social media to interact and build virtual communities. “There are more touch points now than before,” said Jordan Berg, Naked Brand Producer and co-founding partner of Questus. “We can’t ignore ads anymore.” Brands can connect with consumers through a computer, mobile device, on TV, the radio, newspaper, and mail.
Technology leveling the information playing field
Consumers can do their own research of products and services, comparing and contrasting before they make a purchase decision. Information behavior, once a field of study for aspiring librarians, are now being included in the fields of marketing and digital communications. The best way to reach a target audience is to understand the needs and information behaviors of the target audience.
Consumers living in the digital age have learned how to be critical when they absorb information. Rosenblum stated during his interview how when brands sell a terrible product or behave unethically, no amount of advertising can cover it up. It is important for brands to be transparent, socially conscious, and work towards demonstrating good will to the public.
Consumers with specific interests and hobbies are joining communities and groups. This opens up the opportunity to reach niche markets. Facebook’s advertising allows you to reach users beyond than just using demographics—there’s interest in sports, arts, music, and culture. There’s something for everyone.
Micropublishing of personal content
Consumers are expressing themselves in so many different ways– social media, blogs, review boards, and message board communities. Brands can’t ignore them; these messages are public and easily shared by the peers of the consumer. It can either lead to positive word of mouth or negative.
Consumers are getting involved in the development and production of the products they want. Individuals can build their own experiences, customize their products, and control their communication from brands. “Young demographics have control,” said Jeff Rosenberg, when referring to the fact that while attitudes towards advertising are similar across all demographics, young people are cutting the cord and getting entertainment from other sources online. Brands have to motivate consumers to share their advertisements and brand messages.
Products on Demand
Consumers can get what they want anytime and anywhere. There is instant gratification. Brands can satisfy their consumers’ needs more quickly, easily, and with fewer barriers.
The Future of Advertising
I listened to an audiobook of Dr. Michio Kaku’s The Future of the Mind while I was traveling on vacation. He is a physicist well known for researching string theory and the accelerating universe. His books explore possible scientific explorations and inventions that would be considered science fiction today. He applies the model of physics when making these fascinating predictions. One of the things he explored in his book is the difference between human consciousness and animal consciousness; how we use information from the past to predict outcomes in the future. Throughout his book, I’ve started thinking about how this simple concept is applied in so many different aspects of the world. That’s one of the reasons why case studies are important in the field of advertising; learning from past mistakes and triumphs to make strategic decisions in the future.
Technological advances today will certainly be considered “traditional” tomorrow. Moore’s law stated that computer processing power doubles every two years, and it is amazing how far we have come with communication. But just because something new comes along, doesn’t mean that it subsides previous forms of media. Marketing isn’t just about technology, but about the people using it and connecting with others effectively (Ryan, 2009). As long as people interact and connect, there are so many different ways to get information about a brand. Perhaps when mankind reaches to the point of uploading our consciousness into a computer, as what Dr. Kaku suggested, advertising messages and information may become so instantaneous and become part of some kind of collective intelligence.
But we shouldn’t expect such advances in human consciousness anytime in the near future. We’ll see changes in digital media that are built on the foundation of earlier forms of media. If web 1.0 is banner advertising, web 2.0 is interactive advertising, and web 3.0 is behavioral advertising, then what is the next step for web 4.0, 5.0, and beyond? As the industry and consumers band together to evolve digital media technology, we will come to understand new ways of advertising, perhaps on an emotional or personal level.
Bottom Line. (2013, September 25). The Changing Face of Advertising. Bloomberg. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/b/782bc5e3-3848-4549-9e5c-77290b1726aa
Boyle, A. (2014, April 3). Brainiac Says We’ll All Be Part of the ‘Brain-Net’ Someday. NBC News. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/brainiac-says-well-all-be-part-brain-net-someday-n70236
Davey, L. (2016, June 29). The History and Evolution of Advertising. TINT. Retrieved from http://www.tintup.com/blog/history-evolution-advertising-marketing/
Ryan, D., & Jones, C. (2009). Understanding Digital Marketing: Marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation. London: Kogan Page.
Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 s Web 3.0 vs Web 4.0 vs Web 5.0 – A bird’s eye on the evolution and definition. Retrieved from https://flatworldbusiness.wordpress.com/flat-education/previously/web-1-0-vs-web-2-0-vs-web-3-0-a-bird-eye-on-the-definition/