men walk on moon, new york times

4 Strategic Insights from the Evolution of Advertising

As technology evolves, so must our approach to advertising and marketing. To thrive in the face of competition, we must adapt or die. But what can we learn from our old ways?

When we move from one medium to the next, we can find valuable lessons within the reasons we adopt a technology in the first place. Let’s take a look at how media has evolved over time and how you can use these insights to hone your marketing strategy.

1. Print: A Lasting Message for a Large Audience
men walk on moon, new york times
Print advertising has been around for millenia. From announcements pinned up in ancient Roman plazas to a modern newspaper, the value of print was obvious: you could get your message in front of many people, even if they weren’t there to hear about it. You could distribute a pamphlet through the city and expect people to read it days and weeks into the future, even sharing it with others and spreading your message for you.

So, what can an internet-savvy, video marketing connoisseur learn from defunct print newspapers?

Lesson: Make your message shareable, and make it last.

2. Television: An Engaging New Way to Connect
tienamen square
When TV went mainstream, it took the world by storm. People could watch an event unfold around the world as though they were physically present for it. Commercials could entertain and delight. They could engage your senses, stir up emotions, and drive sales in unprecedented numbers.

The magic of television instantly made newspaper ads look sterile and unexciting. It’s no wonder TV advertising expenditures increased from $172 million in 1955 to $250 million by 1960.

Lesson: Engage more senses; entertain and connect emotionally with your audience

3. Early Internet: Personalization and Convenience to the Masses
man using 90s computer
With the dawn of the web, there came a renewed focus on writing. The early internet was slow, making it heavily reliant on text. While this made it less engaging than TV, it allowed for two major advantages to consumers:

  • They could access content at their convenience, and
  • They had complete control over the type of content they consumed.

First, this meant that much like print, it was shareable. Readers of native advertising, for instance, could share it with other potential customers, who could read at their leisure. Ads could stay on one site as long as necessary for a low price, unlike costly and less personalized TV ads. Plus, the key benefit: advertisers could more easily put their ads in front of the people who were interested, meaning a better return on investment.

Lesson: Put your message in front of the people most receptive to it.

4. Current Internet – Personalization Meets Video
Graph of the decline of cable

TV did well as the Internet grew, but began to regress as the web got faster. While video streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu grew in popularity, TV cable subscriptions plummeted and people surfing the web began to prefer video to text.

Lesson: Personalized, shareable, well-produced video is the answer!

Online video is an unstoppable force that combines the best parts of past media forms:

  • It shares the durable, shareable nature of print. Online videos have a typical lifespan of 4 years, and using video on social media generates 12 times more shares than text and images combined.
  • It has the high engagement and emotional appeal of television. Consumers are 64% more likely to purchase a product after watching an online video.
  • It provides the convenience and personalization of the internet. People trust more personalized sources of information: 6 in 10 YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite video creator over their favorite TV or movie personality.

What’s more, you can easily share video across any online platform or mobile app. It’s a powerfully persuasive medium that people love, and it’s here to stay.



– Drew Estes, April 2018 –

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