Marketing and advertising today is a multibillion-dollar industry, with continued growth projected. In 2018 alone, Australia’s estimated advertising revenue was valued at $8.5 billion. Unsurprisingly, the digital ad market is valued at $4.3 billion, representing 53.7% of the total. Globally, it is projected that total spending will amount to an unimaginable $563 billion, which is a 4.7% growth from the previous year.
Whilst today digital advertising dominates as the most popular and valuable form, that hasn’t always been the case. Marketing and advertising have always adapted to technology and society and has evolved in many instances since its conception. In fact, advertising has existed long before the term ‘advertising’ was even created.
Advertising can be seen as a naturally occurring phenomenon, with evidence of its existence dating back to as early as 3000 BC. That’s over 5000 years ago. Amongst evidence of propaganda advertising in which political and religious messaging was inscribed onto obelisks and the Narmer Palette, the first official advertising campaign (which even had a slogan) appeared on a sheet of papyrus in the city of Thebes.
The oldest known advertisement was discovered in Thebes and has been dated back to 3000BC.
The ad outlined the story of Habu, a fabric vendor, and his missing slave, Shem. Whilst asking for any information regarding the whereabouts of Shem, and the return of his slave in exchange for a piece of gold, Habu made sure to mention his store where the most beautiful fabrics are woven to each person’s tastes. Sounds a little bit like storytelling in advertising, doesn’t it?
A little later down the track, although still long before our time, instances of print advertising were recorded in China. Dating from the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE), an ad promoting needles details, “we buy high-quality steel rods and make fine-quality needles that are ready for use at home in no time.” The words are accompanied by a graphic logo – a rabbit holding a needle. No doubt there was some strategy to that branding.
Overall, across many ancient civilisations, instances of print and display advertising occurred. Retailers across Greece and Rome would paint or carve advertisements onto prominently featured surfaces such as the sides of buildings or large rocks near paths with heavy foot traffic. Really, how much has changed?
The Printing Press
Since the World Wide Web, nothing has propelled advertising and marketing efforts to such an extent as the development of the printing press. The printing press allowed for mass quantities of materials to be printed in a uniform and efficient manner.
The Gutenberg printing press was the first European printing press developed and goes down in history as the device which printed the first Bible.
Although popularised by Johannes Gutenberg (the man who printed the very first bible) in the 15th century, aspects of the printing technology originated in Ancient China. Block-printing was first used by monks in the Tang Dynasty, then movable type printing was invented by a Chinese peasant in the 11th century called Bi Sheng – though this wasn’t picked up by mainstream China until centuries later.
There is also evidence to support the existence of moveable type printing in Korea around the 14th century, although much like in China, this invention didn’t pervade mainstream society. Many speculate that the printing press didn’t take off in Asia as fast as in Europe due to the extensive number of characters contained in Asian writing systems. Since thousands of letters would have to be individually cast, the task would have been daunting for publishers.
Despite not inventing the first known printing press, Gutenberg nonetheless did design his own incredibly successful moving-type printing press. This was a significant advancement from the block-printing method used across Europe during that time. Gutenberg’s printing press marked the beginning of modern print advertising and the introduction of posters, flyers, pamphlets, and other PR materials which were produced in mass quantities. Many say that Gutenberg’s invention paved the way for newspapers, a traditional media form which generated an advertising boom.
The origins of newspaper advertising can be traced back to the year 1704 when a resident from Oyster Bay, Long Island put an ad out in a newspaper seeking a buyer of their estate. The advertisement was published in the Boston Newsletter. The rest was, as they say, history.
Until recently, print newspapers were ideal real estate for advertising. Throughout the 19th century, the physical newspaper was embedded in the daily lives of many Australians. However, the emergence of digital technologies has greatly disrupted the production of print newspapers, and resultantly, print newspaper advertising. According to PWC Australia, since 2014, the spending on print newspaper circulation has reduced by 52%. With that, advertising revenue has dropped by nearly 80%.
It comes as no surprise that digital newspaper advertising is steadily growing, with an increase of $360 million being invested over the years. This industry is expected to grow over the next few years as well with a projected 5.9% increase in the market.
Another print industry that has felt the pinch since the boom of online technologies is the magazine industry. The first magazine was developed by a German theologian and poet Johann Rist in 1663. Just like newspapers, magazines became a standard commodity for many Australians. Also like newspapers, they became the ideal foundation for marketing endeavours.
The first radio transmission recorded was made from a temporary station set up by Guglielmo Marconi in 1895. His transmission, which simply consisted of the morse code letter ‘s’, disproved the prediction that the curvature of the Earth would prevent the signal to travel across the Atlantic Ocean. His message ended up successfully travelling 2,000 miles (or 3218km) – from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland, Canada.
Then about a decade later, significant progression was made with the first wireless radio broadcast. On the 24th of December 1906, radio broadcasts consisting of entertainment content and music for the general public were transmitted. What a great early Christmas present, right?
Initially, as radio was an emerging technology and many stations were operated by radio manufacturers and retailers, stations promoted the sale of radios for profit, rather than sold advertising space. As radio ownership and continuous broadcasting became customary practice, stations began to obtain business licenses to ensure the medium’s progression. And thus, we have a modern radio business model.
Presumably the most iconic and recognisable advertising format, television advertising has become a multibillion-dollar industry. In 1980, ad revenue generated from TV advertising was only a measly $58 million (pathetic, we know). That figure, however, catapulted over the decades to follow. In 2010, the TV ad market recorded a revenue of $27.1 billion. While TV was the high roller a little while back, like many other traditional media outlets, they haven’t been able to escape the intense proliferation of the internet and online advertising.
On an interesting note, the first television ad, which was exhibited on NBC and shown across the world, promoted Bulova, a watch manufacturing company. The ad was displayed on July 1, 1941, and ran for 10 seconds. The ad consisted of a clock superimposed over the map of America, with a voice-over proclaiming, “America runs on Bulova time.” Catchy!
On a side note, it’s worth mentioning, Bulova was also the first to transmit a radio advertisement. The ad was transmitted in 1926 and was the first radio ad made in America. I guess you could say they were really ahead of their… time?
That pretty much brings us to where we are now. It’s taken a lot to get us where we are, particularly technology-wise. Since the development of ARPANET in 1983 (the precursor to the internet), then the launch of the world wide web to the public in 1991, our lives have become heavily entangled with this technology.
We’ve developed new devices – smartphones, tablets, wearable tech – and new applications – like social media and productivity tools. What would our world be without these things?
With these new developments, marketing and advertising procedures and protocols have had to adapt and re-adapt. As of now, SEO, SEM, content marketing, and social media marketing have become the standard. So, what’s next?
We don’t yet know what the future holds, but with how fast technology is progressing, it won’t be long before mankind’s next biggest revolution. And of course, wherever tech goes, marketing and advertising aren’t far behind.
Feel like your marketing efforts might be stuck in the past? Anchor Digital can bring you to the present. With a team of digital tech specialists, Anchor Digital works with you to develop the right campaign, backed by research and strategy, to reach your business goals. Get in touch with us today.