How It All Began – the birth of visual communication

While radio was marking its place in American households, inventors were attempting to transfer a radio broadcast into an image based media. San Francisco was the home to the first image-based media in 1927. The SF History Center provides us with a little insight in Philo T Farnsworth and his television. At 14 he envisioned a television screen as lines of a picture that when pieced together would form a visual image. For the next seven years he would think of nothing else. He finally found small financial backing and then the real work began. He knew he had succeeded when he was able to transfer an image from one room to the other; however, he was a long way from a product that was actually marketable. Unfortunately Farnsworth would not financially benefit from his idea. It wasn’t until 2002 that he was finally recognized as “the inventor of electric television.”

Now that America had an actual television, it needed a television station. In 1928, W3XK was aired in Washington, DC. It wasn’t until 1932 that the station had regular programming. Television manufacturers were a long way from selling their product to households. It was one thing to have a product and a station from which programs could be aired, and another to make the product affordable for American households. GE designed a television with a three inch screen and had every intention to make it available to the public. They quickly changed their minds realizing America could not afford their sets and it was just not to the quality the company wanted to be branded for. Companies and individuals spent the next 10 years trying to get the design right and affordable for America.

At the 1939 New York World’s Fair President Franklin Roosevelt made a live broadcast from NBC’s station (W2XBS). New York World’s Fair President Franklin Roosevelt made a live broadcast from NBC’s station The next few years CBS, WNBC, and WCBS would follow suit. By 1946 the war is over, and six television stations are regularly on air, with more to follow. Looks like America has another viral media on its hands. After the war, American television exploded. News broadcasts occurred daily, sitcoms and cartoons were taped and aired almost immediately. There was a new advertising media in America and businesses wanted their piece of it. The first legal television commercial occurred in July 1941 for Bulova watches. Bulova paid $9 for its 10 second commercial.

Like radio, television shaped the way American businesses communicated to consumers. By the 1950s two-thirds of America’s households had a television. Families referenced the TV Guide looking for their favorite program. The relationship between TV Guide and the television is a perfect example of print advertising and electronic media working together to build company branding.

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How It All Began – the birth of electronic advertising

Today we see the benefit of mixing all advertising mediums. Especially with the popularity of social media businesses are realizing that print, electronic, and social all go hand-in-hand to build their brand and essentially drive up revenues. However, in the 1900s when radio and television came to be, the print advertising world saw the electronic advertisers as competition. Later in the 1900s advertising was bombarded with good and bad propaganda. Politics and medicine became the advertising headliners. Consumers were assaulted with corrupt marketing messages. Amongst all the corruption stood the ethical printers and advertisers – they struggled to use advertising as a positive marketing method against the negatives of those companies that printed anything to get their publication in front of consumers. 1900s medicinal salesman ad

As print advertisers continued to try and change their image into one that reputable businesses would use, the electronic media gave a voice to America. The first radio advertising broadcast occurred on November 2, 1920, at which time KDKA Pittsburgh announced the 1920 presidential election results. Radio advertising slowed during the Great Depression but shortly after the end of World War II radio began to grow substantially. As a matter of fact, by 1938 radio had surpassed magazines in advertising generated revenues. As the radio found its foothold in American households it became the primary source of entertainment. Radio wasn’t just for advertising or for announcements. As the dynamics of the American family changed and grew with the times it became necessary for companies to advertise household goods and services to their radio audiences. The household goods and services market experienced substantial growth from their radio advertisements. Companies proved that electronic advertising worked.

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How It All Began – print advertising gains traction

Now that print advertising was gaining traction government agencies began regulating the print industry. Advertising agencies were opening throughout cities offering their expertise in marketing a wide range of products and services. Advertisers had a long way to go to convince America’s businesses that they needed to advertise.  In April 1873 the first advertiser’s convention was held in New York City. Agency leaders assembled to discuss foreseen issues in the current print advertising industry. Interestingly some of those same issues still exist in the industry.  The relationship between printers and advertising agents was more clearly defined and neither party could intentionally hurt the other both financially or by reputation defamation. With government regulation and government agencies gearing up, so did government taxes. Quickly the government realized the revenue stream available to an industry that would forever change American small business.

The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and businesses were scrambling to find the best method to reach their consumers, wholesalers, and retailers. Businesses could no longer advertise to just the wealthy or financially sound consumer. Competition was becoming aggressive so businesses had to widen their target audience and thus the household product marketing was launched to reach all income levels.

Why would P&G pay $11,000 to market one product in the 1800s?

Procter & Gamble began their advertising campaign for their Ivory Soap with a substantial $11,000 budget. “It revolutionized the world of branding, marketing and advertising, with pioneering methods that are still used today.”  Amongst several pieces to the P&G marketing effort was the product packaging for their multipurpose soap. Soap sells first began by cutting blocks of the soap off a larger block, wrapping it in brown paper, and handing it directly to the consumer. P&G 1900s  Ivory Soap Now that printing on paper was a necessity and becoming common practice, P&G took a gamble and printed a simple design on white paper and began packing their product for mass usage. The majority of the $11,000 was spent on product packaging. The gamble paid off.

Typography becomes important

Although newspapers were filled with advertisements for everything from political views to a local farmer selling his goods or livestock; businesses continued plastering posters on buildings and fences to ensure they found their customers. As print advertising gained popularity newspaper advertising space became limited so marketers learned quickly how to pack their ads with repetitious phrases and names. In order to set businesses apart from the competition and maximize print advertising typeface became an important feature. A business had to look different to catch the buyer’s attention. We began learning how layout and typeface changes the minds of the reader.

Subsequent to the Federal Trade Act’s passing in 1914, advertising became a tool for businesses to reach its consumers in more than one method.  Print advertising gained speed through the 1900s and quickly spread to radio and thereafter television media.  This began the marketing process of interlinking print advertising with electronic advertising.

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How It All Began – the birth of print advertising

As we researched how and when print advertising began we found many reputable resources that had a different first print advertising fact. Some say it wasn’t until the 19th century that it arrived in the New World, but in actuality it seems it may have been 4000 BC when some form of print advertising came to be.

Thousands of years ago the Egyptians carved public notices into stone and steel. But 2000 years earlier Indians drew on cave walls as a way of communicating their story. Some experts believe that petroglyphs were the first form of advertising. The basic definition of advertising is a form of communication used to persuade change or to continue an audience’s actions. As print advertising progressed through time it became primarily used to persuade actions in politics, ideologies, and commercial activities.

Caxton handbill
Print advertising has dramatically changed throughout history. From the first handbill printed in England in 1477 by printer William Caxton. By the 18th century citizens were bombarded with advertisements. Streets were lined with signs on walls and billboards draped over people’s shoulders, and merchants chanted about their products and services from their street side carts. Almost every city’s surface displayed an advertisement of some sort. The printing press had been substantially updated and could produce print ads quickly, and newspapers became a necessity for citizens to keep abreast of current events.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of early print advertising

Franklin join or die With the invention of paper and its journey to America, advertising found a new transportable method of communication. Paper became useful in newspapers, handbills, flyers, posters, and many more communications. Benjamin Franklin used his Pennsylvania Gazette to voice his opinions, under an alias of course, printed the first political campaign ad, and paved the way for future advertising.

Until the development and subsequent upgrade to the printing press the production of a quality print advertisement was ineffective. Even with the upgrades an advertiser was limited to layout and image restrictions. Images had to be hand-drawn and had to fit into an exact space. An advertiser was also limited to the number of consumers that were able to read and consume the information accurately. Cities were usually small and did not offer a delivery method outside of town. american printing press Prior to establishment of the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations in 1914 advertising was in many instances crude, one-sided, slanderous, racist, and included false information. The passing of the Federal Trade Act affixed government regulations to any in print advertising form in an effort to protect consumers and promote competition.

To learn more about the growth of print advertising after the 18th century and how it changed America, visit our blog post How It All Began – the birth of print advertising gains traction.

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How It All Began – The Birth of Advertising

Initially, advertising was looked upon for informational purpose. Advertisers used it to build brand character instead of directly selling to customers. However, it didn’t take long for businesses to realize the power of advertising as more than just informational. Often times we wondered just how advertising became an important piece in the marketing process. We did a little research on the birth of advertising in America.

The Birth of Print Advertising

Way back in the 1700s the very first newspaper sales ad was a want ad to buyers for an Oyster Bay, Long Island estate. For Sale Oyster Bay Long Island Shortly after, on October 2, 1729 Benjamin Franklin and his colleague purchased the local newspaper, and changed the name to Pennsylvania Gazette which included a “new advertisements” section. Franklin followed up in 1742 with the General Magazine which included ads as well. Franklin initiated a viral media – the development of print advertising. Of course this medium fell under the name of “newspaper”, but other printers followed his lead with their own newspaper versions.

Print Advertising Gains Traction

Now that America had an advertising medium salesmen gained a voice and recognition in their communities. Government regulations, advertising agencies, and conferences began to form and shape the future of advertising. In 1873 the first advertiser’s convention was held in New York. Procter & Gamble began their advertising campaign for their Ivory Soap with a substantial $11,000 budget. “It revolutionized the world of branding, marketing and advertising, with pioneering methods that are still used today.” As America grows so with it does the sales process and advertising avenues.

The Birth of Electronic Advertising

In the 1900s marketers began introducing radio announcements and political campaign coverage was first aired at KDKA Pittsburgh in 1920. America had found its voice among communities through electronic advertising. Advertising had become a revenue generator and as such became more expensive for small business. Advertising gained recognition and headed straight into the 1929 stock market crash and became a less important feature of the expensive sales process. Chicago Advertising Age Salesmen held fast during the crash and began to feel the relief in the 1930s when Chicago launched the Advertising Age, and Life magazine published its first edition to later claim $100 million in annual advertising.

Next in line was the television and all that it had in store for marketing. In the early 1920 the first television was invented by Philo Farnsworth. His invention didn’t take off because of low investor funding. GE was quick to offer a television with a three inch screen, but it did not gain a following until many years later. By this time Americans absorb print, radio, and television advertising. These mediums exploded and became a necessity for American business growth. Over the next 50 years brands became household names and earned recognition through all available advertising mediums. Companies that utilized all three avenues became the most profitable through their use of visual communication.

The Birth of Online Advertising

Lastly, with the invention of the personal computer came the Internet boom. Finally we had a way to communicate with consumers in their own homes. Families have become accustom to having computers as a fixture in their homes – offering yet another method for advertisements to reach the consumer. At the conclusion of the 20th century Internet advertising reached $2 million in generated revenue and was quickly headed to surpass $3 million and the rest is….well, history as we know it today. It seems that we have come full circle. Advertising started as a character building process for businesses and politician. With the further development of social media and constantly changing SEO parameters businesses must build their brand through as many avenues as possible. In order to build your brand effectively it is important to utilize all advertising avenues. When utilized effectively all the pieces of your marketing campaign must touch your customers at every level – print, radio/television, and electronic (social and email at the least).

The History of Marketing

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