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The advertising industry needs to stay ahead of the curve and take the next evolutionary leap in order to thrive.


Six hundred years ago most of man’s communication was conducted one-to-one in homes, at marketplaces or places of worship. This communication was always relevant. In the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press ushered in the advent of one-to-many communication, and the telegraph kicked off the Information Age in 1840. Within less than 100 years, society was gathering information from newspapers, radio and television.

These advancements in media drove the concept of promotion and thus, advertising was born. Interestingly though, history shows that advertising has always been slow to utilize new mediums. From the first newspapers, it was nearly 100 years before advertisements were sold. It was nearly five years until radio was sold to advertisers, and the first television ad was sold 13 years after the first broadcast.

Advertisers were—and are—enamored with reaching millions of people with a single buy…relevancy be damned.

Cable television was no different. In the 1980’s and 90’s cable promised specialized programming and targeted audiences, but media buyers were reluctant to move away from the one-to-as-many-as-possible communication model. While its niche audiences allowed for communication with a more finely-tuned target audience, advertisers were reluctant to invest dollars for a smaller, possibly limiting demographic reach. As advertisers slowly adopted proof that the likes of ESPN and MTV were more effective outlets to direct particular messages to a clearly defined demographic, it signaled the first step towards the next evolutionary leap.

While the sophistication of television ad buys and creative has greatly increased (not to mention the cost!), the advertising world has maintained the one-to-many model for nearly 75 years, despite niche programming and the proliferation of personal technology that now make 1:1 marketing possible.

We, as consumers, are blind to the hundreds of advertising messages we see per day. We resent the infiltration of unwanted ads in our personal technology, from the pair of sneakers we bought online that follow us from site to site, to the creepiness of Google gleaning keywords out of our email in an effort to increase ad relevancy.

Relevancy shouldn’t be a guessing game anymore— especially not over personal mediums like our mobile devices. We can leverage stated preference, and in the case of mobile devices, location, to deliver hyper-relevant and timely advertising that encourages engagement and strengthens brand loyalty.

The media environment has once again changed due to the advances in mobile technology, and the advertising industry needs to stay ahead of the curve and take the next evolutionary leap in order to thrive. We’re coming full circle—from 1:1 personal communication, to one-to-many with mass media, and back to 1:1 over highly personal technology such as your mobile phone. It’s survival of the fittest: Evolve…or face extinction.

Reference: Waste-Free Advertising

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