Everyone knows what advertisements are, though not every person necessarily recognizes every one they see as such. Advertisements are messages primarily intended to drive sales of products or services. However, they also serve purposes other than eliciting a direct consumer response of this sort. They are also used to create and enhance brand identity and foster customer loyalty.
They may use any and every type of media including print (newspapers, magazines and through subtle product placements, even books), broadcast media like radio and television, outdoor media (billboards, signs and so on), the web and other new media. They show up even in video games, movie trailers (and in films through product placement, something also a regular practice on television). With so many media possibilities, consumers are sometimes exposed to adverts without even knowing it!
Advertising has been with us for millennia; for almost as long as people have been engaging in commerce, merchants have been using various means to promote sales of their products and services. Of course, advertisements have changed a lot since their beginning, but their purpose has been a constant.
The first known ads date back to ancient Egypt; the practice of promoting one’s wares quickly spread, with merchants in Egypt, Greece and other contemporary civilizations using papyrus to create posters. The ancient Romans invented political advertising with rock paintings used to urge voters to back a particular candidate. Print rapidly became the advertising media of choice, something which stayed the same until the 1920’s when advertisements entered the modern era with the advent of commercial radio.
Television arrived shortly after, almost immediately becoming a venue for advertisements as well as programming. Until the internet began to be common in households, TV, radio and print media were the primary media used by advertisers.
The World Wide Web revolutionized advertising by providing a new, interactive medium. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that web based advertisements became commonplace; before this time, too few households online for advertisers to become aware of its potential to reach their target markets (though there had been some limited use of the web for business to business advertising). Online advertising continued to grow until by 2000, the popularity of e-commerce and the sheer number of people on the web made it possible for businesses to avoid using online advertisements only at their peril.
Online advertisements are big business, threatening to overshadow older advertising media and are a large and growing part of the marketing strategies of companies of every size and in every industry. Google, Yahoo and the other major search engines now earn billions of dollars from online advertisements every year.
The web is a versatile way to reach consumers; other than text and images, the interactive multimedia capabilities of the internet help advertisers connect with their target markets in new and exciting ways. While online ads already have a lot to offer, the internet is still a growing medium and the technologies used to deliver advertising online are certain to become more sophisticated over time.
Placing advertisements in video games are the latest development in the field. Delivering the same multimedia strategies of online advertising via video games, advertisers are aiming for market share amongst the enormous and growing video gaming demographic. Advertisements have been worked seamlessly into gaming and this is certain to be a growth industry going forward.
Media technologies change; but the purpose and the message of advertisements don’t. As long as there are goods and services to sell, companies will continue to go where their customers are. From print to video games and everything in between: radio advertising, TV advertising, outdoor advertising and types of advertising media not yet developed, advertisements are here to stay.