The Present Day

So far in this series, we’ve dealt with the evolution of marketing from the nineteenth century up until the new millennium. But what state is the world of marketing in right now? And what developments can we expect in the future? In this final piece, we’ll take a peek into that future, and discover how marketers are using a unique blend of old and new approaches to capture the attention of a new generation.

Those who said that social media was just a fad that would soon pass must be kicking themselves right now. Instead, it’s gone from strength to strength, and nowadays the whole world is more connected than ever before. Over a billion people are now on Facebook, and they, along with other social media companies like Twitter, have made it simple to pay for an ad and reach a pre-determined number of people, allowing small and large companies alike to stick to their marketing budget and get the results that they need to succeed.

The Present day - the history of marketing

While the scope of marketing has gotten bigger and bigger as time goes on, the actual mediums through which people are exposed to that marketing have shrunk from billboards to TV and computer screens. Now, ads can be delivered straight to your pocket via mobile phones. From pop ups on the latest apps to adverts that play in between Snapchat stories, there are now more ways than ever to reach out to people with a message. And people are using that technology more and more, meaning marketing is in a great position to influence people.

The Present day - the history of marketing mobile

That’s not to say that older marketing methods don’t still have a place in today’s world. In fact, some research puts direct mail slightly ahead of email marketing in terms of how likely it is to influence people. In an increasingly digital world, you’d be surprised just how many people out there prefer a physical, analogue approach to things. You only have to look at the resurgence in popularity of vinyl records to see that there’s still something about physical objects that attracts people over cold, hard digital. It’s simple to just delete an email without even looking at it, but people need to at least pick up a piece of direct mail before throwing it away- making it easier for advertisers to catch their eye.

Another form of marketing experiencing a renaissance in popularity is product placement. TV shows and films have always been willing to include brand-name products for the right price. However, as the video game industry continues to grow- with an estimated worth of over $100 billion in 2017- advertisers have started to branch out into this more modern medium. Back in 2004, the amount that companies spent on product placement was a pretty modest $34 million. By 2016, though, that figure had increased to a whopping $7.2 billion. At the same time, with social media being so popular, so-called “influencers” are also being paid to promote certain brands and products via their accounts, reaching out to a vast, ready-made audience.

The Present day - the history of marketing tv and gaming

So, what can we expect from marketing in the future? Well, there’s one big technology that’s starting to emerge right now, and that’s virtual reality. While it’s still in its early stages, VR looks set to finally take off in the next few years as it becomes more accessible and affordable. Naturally, you can expect marketing firms to take advantage of that popularity, and come up with a whole new way of reaching out to consumers. Imagine not just looking at an ad, but actually being inside it! Marketing has always thrived on novelty, since people are naturally attracted to new things. VR is a great way of achieving that, since it’s a completely untapped area.

The Present day - the history of marketing virtual reality

By always staying at the forefront of technology, while still understanding how older approaches fit in with today’s world, marketing has evolved and adapted over the years. In just a few decades, marketing has completely transformed into a whole new beast. Whatever’s around the corner, you can be sure that the industry will adapt.

The 90’s, The 00’s and The Rise of The Internet

Last time in this series, we looked at how marketing carved out a brave new world for itself in the 80’s. This time around, we’ll be exploring the ways in which marketing approaches changed during the 90’s and 00’s- and how the internet turned everything on its head.

During the 90’s, the world faced its biggest cultural revolution since the invention of the printing press- the internet. With more and more people getting online and discovering the world wide web, people became connected in a whole new way. Now, instead of the regular post, people were using email to communicate- and that presented a huge opportunity for businesses. By getting people to sign up to mailing lists, companies could send out ads and information about special offers, all for free. That prospect was a little too tantalizing for some marketers, though, and it led to the development of so-called “spam” email- unsolicited messages that simply took up space in people’s inboxes.

In 1998, the world of marketing was turned on its head with the launch of Google. Before then, search engines weren’t really a thing, and if you wanted to get to a certain page, you either needed the URL or a link to it. Mass email was always an option to reach out to people, but many people were wary of spam in these early days of the internet. Now, though, consumers could easily find what they needed with just a few clicks- which naturally led to all sorts of companies vying for the top spots in search results. Search Engine Optimisation and paid search ads quickly became the norm for businesses that want to succeed.

The 90’s, The 00’s and The Rise of The Internet - the history of marketing Google

Throughout the 00’s and into today, social media has become the king of the internet. It’s now the main way that people get information online, with hundreds of millions of us catching up on our newsfeeds every single day. Sites like Facebook have gone from small pet projects only intended for a select audience to huge, world-conquering corporations. The reason why social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are so important for marketing is because it’s incredibly easy to not just reach out to people, but to create a two-way relationship. Consumers can now talk back, and that lets businesses listen to their comments and tailor their approach accordingly.

Meanwhile, in 2005, YouTube launched, totally transforming the way that people accessed content online. Instead of paying for extra bandwidth to host videos on their own sites, there was now a handy place where anyone could upload their videos to be seen by the whole world- all for free! It wasn’t long before companies started to take advantage of that by launching quirky video ad campaigns designed to go viral. On top of this, companies started to launch dedicated sites for ad campaigns which, like guerilla marketing, spread through word-of-mouth. One notable example of this was Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken”. By visiting the site, users could give the chicken (played by an actor in a costume) commands to follow. Originally intended to promote a single new product, the chicken was a runaway success, and the site ran for over three years.

There’s no doubt about just how much the rise of the internet during this time changed the face of marketing. In just a short space of time, things had moved on from mimicking traditional advertising in a digital form, to coming up with brand new ways of capturing the public’s imagination. Things were moving fast- and in our next and final piece in this series, we’ll take a look at the state of the marketing world today, and what we can expect to see in the near future.

It Was Acceptable In The 80’s

During the 80’s, it seemed like technology was everywhere. From the rise of the PC and Apple making computers cool, to bands on the radio drenching their sound in synths, things were moving forward fast. Of course, the world of marketing had its finger on the pulse of the era, and it was during the 80’s that advertising started to go digital. Electronic databases made it simple to reach out to existing customers and attract new ones with tempting deals. This also led to the development of “relationship marketing”, where companies provide customers with information that’s specifically relevant to them. Now, instead of giving everyone the same message, marketing could now be tweaked, making it a lot easier to reel in leads.

It was acceptable in the 80's - the history of marketing computer

It was also during the 80’s that companies started thinking bigger when it came to ads. One of the most famous adverts in history, Apple’s “1984”, was the brainchild of Hollywood director Ridley Scott, and cost almost a million dollars just to make. With a distinctive sci-fi feel that captured the feeling of the era, while also showing the Apple Mac as something futuristic and cool, the ad became an instant sensation. Despite being broadcast nationally only once, during the Super Bowl, it became such a talking point that news broadcasts even included clips of it that night- generating millions of dollars’ worth of free publicity for Apple. Just as Michael Jackson was pushing the boundaries of what music videos could be, now the marketing world was starting to think big, too.

With big corporations now regularly spending millions on ad campaigns, smaller companies needed a way of keeping up without blowing their budget. In 1984, Jay Conrad Levinson came up with a solution- guerilla marketing. In his book of the same name, he put forward a type of advertising based on the guerilla warfare used by small-scale armies to take on bigger enemies- by using everything at their disposal. By using these same sorts of tactics, and thinking outside the box, Levinson saw a way for small businesses to capture the minds of consumers without spending a lot of money. Guerilla marketing relies on creating a social buzz around a campaign, and relying on word-of-mouth to spread your message. Not only does it save a fortune compared to big-budget campaigns, but Levinson also saw it as a way of reaching out to a public tired of bland, boring print and radio ads. From art installations and spray-painted slogans to zany stunts like having people tattoo logos on their faces, all bets were off when it came to where companies would turn next for guerilla marketing.

It was acceptable in the 80's - the history of marketing radio

While the possibilities grew, so did the number of people who could put together their own marketing materials. With desktop publishing becoming commonplace, anyone with enough computer savvy and creative skills could put together a strong marketing campaign with real results. No longer was marketing something that only big corporations could afford- thanks to a wealth of smaller ad agencies, the 80’s marked a huge change in just how accessible marketing was to the average business. Businesses could even create their own marketing materials from scratch, making advertising a whole lot more democratic.

So, the 1980’s were a time of great change for the marketing world. At one end of the spectrum, big corporations were spending unprecedented amounts on campaigns designed to wow the public. At the other end, those without a big budget to spend were coming up with innovative new approaches that worked through word-of-mouth. However, everything was about to change with the advent of the internet- and next time, we’ll take a look at just what impact this had on how businesses looked at advertising.