“Remember when…”; “Back in my day…”; “We had to manually….”; “The fax machine…” – these sentence starters come out of my mouth at least once a day. Being in the advertising industry for 16 years, and not just any 16 years, but during the rise of the personal computer and more importantly, the Internet, has allowed me to witness the biggest shift in how advertising is performed and portrayed. I’m not going to bore you with the equipment and software that we used back in 1996. But I am going to bore you with the fact that no matter how much things change, the industry is really always the same.
Advertising is rather simple—a notion that has sparked much heated debate here at Triad. Our clients have a product or service they want to share with the public. As their ad agency, we need to share information about that product or service with the client’s target audience. We choose the right medium and come up with a message. The only thing that the Internet did was add a new medium. Albeit a highly targeted, self-learning and relatively inexpensive medium.
The addition of online media buys, adword campaigns, and email blasts has provided agencies with the tools to get in front of more eyes. Digital also established a way to “talk” with consumers, rather than to simply “show and tell.” This brand-to-consumer relationship is important to building perception, and ultimately, loyalty. Loyalty is gold in our world—it’s what we try to attain both with our own client relationships and for their customers.
Of course, in terms of production and delivery, the Internet provides a substantial advantage over the primitive means of ad creation and delivery used in the 80s and 90s. Take for instance the simple task of delivering an ad to a print publication. In 1996, that entailed using an overnight mail service or courier. Today, all ads are sent electronically, via email or ftp sites. This simple innovation saves money, time, and sleepless nights worrying if the package is going to arrive.
Someone in my office is going to tape this article to my door, because I’m a traditionalist and still believe there is a place for newspaper advertising, for direct mail, and for outdoor. I try to instill a bit of history with new employees coming right from college. They should know the path that brought us to where we are today; that before there were pixels there were picas. I feel lucky that I was able to experience my industry before it became what it is today. Just don’t ask me to give up my iPhone.