Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Five Ways Advertising Evolved Over the Years:

Here's how advertising transformed throughout time.
By Expert Tips
Date: May 17 2022
Editor Rating:
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Whether it's your friend looking for a new job and using the 'I'm Lovin' It' McDonald's tagline or your colleague trying to sell you their old car by saying it's 'Like New,' we've all been affected by advertising in one way or another.

Advertising has been around since the first caveman decided to try and sell woolly mammoths for a profit. Over the years, it has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry, with new techniques and technologies constantly being developed.

From ancient Egyptians drawing pictures of bread on the walls of bakeries to modern-day "sponsored" content, advertising is continually evolving to find new and inventive ways to get in our heads.

'Where's the Beef?' rings any bells? It was a famous tagline for Wendy's back in 1984. It was so successful that even your boss probably still uses it from time to time. It just goes to show how creative and witty advertising can be.

But how did advertising become what it is today? And what does the future hold for it?

1.   What Began with Radio:

When radio first made its debut in the early 1900s, people were fascinated by being able to listen to music and other entertainment without having to be in the same room as the person playing it.

This new technology quickly became a popular way for businesses to reach a wider audience with their message.

While radio advertising was mainly used to promote products, it soon evolved into something much more. Politicians began using radio to reach voters, and charities used it to raise awareness for their cause.

Needless to say, brands didn't wait long to jump on the bandwagon. Brands like Coca-Cola and Wheaties were some of the first to start using persuasive techniques in advertising via radio to reach a wider audience.

It was a new and exciting way to get people to listen to your message. Advertisers would create catchy jingles and slogans that people would remember, like 'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing,' produced by Coca-Cola.

With the advent of television in the 1950s, adverts had a new platform to reach consumers. It was a game-changer for the industry, and it wasn't long before advertisers created entire campaigns around popular TV shows.

Then came the splendid 1980s bringing the rise of a new form of advertising: infomercials. Cheesy infomercials. You know the ones.

They were (and still are) those long-form commercials that would air in the middle of the night featuring a celebrity selling everything from knives to exercise equipment.

They were very effective, and many of the products advertised in infomercials are still popular today, like the Ginsu knife. *cough, cough*

2.   The Internet Storm:

Who can forget the 90's? It was the decade of grunge, Nirvana, and the birth of the internet. The internet changed everything, and adverts knew they had to find a way to get in on this new technology.

They started using banner ads, which were small images that would appear on websites. These were effective for a while, but people quickly ignored them.

So, they upped the creativity and started using pop-ups and animation to get people's attention. But people being people, still found ways to ignore them. *oops*

That's when adverts switched to native advertising, which is a form of advertising that blends in with the website's content. It's less intrusive and more effective, so you're seeing more and more of it these days.

Fast forward to the 2000s, when we saw the rise of social media - the fairy godmother of all advertising platforms. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have completely changed the landscape of advertising.

Now, businesses can target a specific audience with laser precision and reach a wider audience with just a few clicks.

That was a timeline of how advertising has changed and evolved over the years. But, how has it changed for the viewers?

3.   From Watching to Skipping:

Remember the time (oh, maybe you weren't even born yet) when there were only three television channels, and everyone watched the same shows?

And commercials were something you actually looked forward to because they were the only time you got to see your favorite products? And the Super Bowl was the only time you saw commercials worth watching? Yeah, those were the days.

Nowadays, we have so many channels and content that we can easily skip right over the commercials. And even when we're watching live TV, there are now DVRs and commercial-free streaming services like Netflix. So, how do companies get our attention now?

By using creative content, exciting visuals, and catchy one-liners! Yep, that's pretty much it!

Some companies have even resorted to product placement, where their products are featured prominently in the show or movies. For example, Coca-Cola often pays to have its products placed in movies and TV shows.

4.   From Celebrities to Influencers:

In the past, advertisers would often use celebrities to sell their products. If a celebrity was using a product, people would want to use it. People looked up to celebrities and wanted to be like them.

Try and recall when you were a kid and saw Michael Jordan wearing Nike shoes. Or when you saw Britney Spears eating Cheetos. Or when Justin Timberlake was singing about how much he loved AOL. Yeah, those were some good times.

Nowadays, advertisers use a new type of celebrity: social media influencers. Influencers are people with a large following on social media, and they often have a lot of influence over their followers.

Advertisers pay influencers to post about their products, and they often have a lot of success. Why? Because people trust influencers, they are more likely to listen to them than traditional celebrities.

5.   From Standard to Personalized:

Most ads were what we called 'standard' ads in the past. They were the same for everyone, and they didn't consider the individual.

Nowadays, though, things are different. With the magical power invested in the new millennium, advertisers use AI to create personalized ads.

It is done by tracking people's online activity and using that information to show them ads relevant to their interests; kinda spooky, to say the least.

For example, if you've ever been shopping for a new car and then started seeing ads for that car everywhere you went, the car company targeted you with personalized ads.

Or, if you've ever looked up a product on Amazon and then started seeing ads for that product on Facebook, that's because Amazon was targeting you with personalized ads.

The Future:

So, what does the future hold for advertising? Well, it's hard to say for sure. But one thing is certain: it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

Maybe it'll be even more personalized. Perhaps we'll start seeing ads in our dreams. (Now that would be something!)

Or maybe, just maybe, we'll all become so sick of ads that we'll be willing to pay not to see them. (Hey, it could happen!)

Only time will tell, so stay tuned!

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