Advertising; Past, Present, and Future

Advertising has evolved over the years to its current state by adapting to the ever-changing availability of communications environment and media outlets. Whatever the manner, method, or purpose of getting information to many people, advertising has for better or worse, become a part of mass communication.

Written advertisements have been traced as far back as 3000 BC. when written advertisements were first posted offering cash rewards for runaway slaves (Arens, Schaefer & Weigold, 2009, pg 11-exhibit 1-3). However, one could suppose that the message was only as effective as the literacy rate of the time since only a relative few back then could read. To offset this problem, most merchants used carved iconography to represent whatever product or service it was they provided; a horseshoe could represent a blacksmith or drawings of particular items of clothing such as shoes would of course represent a shoemaker. With the advent of public schooling and the consequential rise in literacy among the general population, the practice and study of advertising goods and services became more common. In 1662, the London Gazette published the first advertising supplement and in 1704, the first American ads were published in the Boston Newsletter (Arens, Schaefer & Weigold, 2009, pg 11- exhibit 1-3).  

Although written advertisement is experiencing rapid growth and use, other forms of advertising also existed such as town criers who were often the chief means of instantaneous mass communication with the public, many of whom who were still unable to read. These were elaborately dressed (for the time) men or women whose primary function it was to walk about the town reading announcements aloud. The announcements, accompanied by the ringing of a loud bell or gong to get attention, consisted of everything from local news and reports to advertising for local merchants. They were in many ways the first form of aural broadcasting “anchormen”  in that their messages were orated to a live audience and informed those within earshot of current events and sales as opposed to those who could only read about it later in the magazines or gazettes.

Today’s advertising industry is becoming rapidly influenced by the increasing focus towards consumer niches. Gone are the days of the broad appeal approach to advertising in which a single commercial could be expected to bring in large return on investments (ROI). Consumers today are more aware than ever now of when they are being manipulated and sold something. Consequently, many become instantly skeptical and tune out blatant advertising messages. Today’s audience is media and technologically savvy and advertisers must thoroughly research their market to effectively get their messages across. Since most of today’s consumers make use of a broad range of media outlets Integrated Marketing Communications (ICM), the inclusion of a broad range of mass media outlets such as cell phones, the internet, and podcasts is integral to today’s marketing process.

Economic growth has a direct effect on advertising due to the fact that when consumers have more income, advertising can often get the desired results. More income from consumers equals more dollars on more advertising to reach even more consumers. The budget allotted for advertising varies by industry and product. In order to maximize the advertising return on investment, marketing managers will work to develop a marketing strategy consisting of the target market and marketing mix. The target market is that particular group of customers to whom a company wishes to appeal while the marketing mix is the controllable variables the company puts together to satisfy the target market. Target marketing is an effective market oriented strategy due to the fact that market- oriented managers can develop a marketing mix for their customer’s specific needs as opposed to solely on price. Managers who focus solely on mass marketing are different in that they tend to go for a more general approach to advertising by directing their advertising towards everyone.

Today’s business and marketing managers are increasingly finding their audiences becoming more niches orientated and selective. Consumers are responding more to products and services they feel were created expressly for them and their particular groups. Greg Verdino, who is vice president of strategy and solutions at Powered, and the author of MicroMarketing: Get Big Results by Thinking and Acting Small (McGraw Hill) stated in a recent interview that, “mass culture has splintered into millions of highly niche microcultures; in other words, we're all into our own thing. Second, thanks to the social revolution, mass media is losing ground to micromedia. Everyone has the means of content creation, the web gives us all a practical means of distribution, and today everyone is a media outlet (Schawbel, D, 2010)”. Advertisers are going to have to use and adapt to the more recent advances in new media that appeal to growing consumers of new media such as social networking and podcasting in order for their messages to reach the target audiences. Podcasting in particular is fast becoming the new frontier for advertising and marketing. People are listening more to podcast shows as opposed to radio due to wide range of content available as well as the lack of broadcast restrictions. Some podcast audiences number well into the millions and the stars of the podcasts use Integrated Marketing Communications such as linking their shows to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to increase their audience base (Holtz, S., 2010).

Consequently, many small business managers have begun sponsoring those podcasts whose audience/consumer base they may share by paying podcasters to promote their services and products during their shows. For instance, since many people download shows to their phones, you will hear many podcasters advertising Smartphone applications. The relationship between the podcaster and his/her audience tends to be more “intimate” and thus better suited for target marketing and branding than that of a commercial radio broadcaster limited to  general mass market  advertising.

Advertising has evolved from a broad-based appeal to the masses to now being an intimate one to one approach between seller and consumer. Businesses must now adapt to a more savvy, fragmented niche marketplace. Online social marketing and other forms of micromedia will become a major means of advertising and marketing as audiences become more selective in choosing products and services that appeal to their specific needs and interests.


            Arens, W.F & Schaefer, D.H. & Weigold, M. (2009).  Essentials of Contemporary Advertising:  Second Edition.  McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Holtz, S. (2010, August 7). My can't-miss podcasts. Newstex Blogs (USA) n.pag. Retrieved August 28, 2010, from NewsBank on-line database (Access World News)

Schawbel, D. (2010, August 9). Personal Branding Interview: Greg Verdino. Newstex Blogs (USA) n.pag. Retrieved August 28, 2010, from NewsBank on-line database (Access World News)