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vintage dentist advertisement Advertising, in its simplest form, is an appeal for the consumer to purchase a product or service.  In the past, advertising methods were very straightforward with little perceived ambiguity, but as technology has evolved, so have traditional advertising methods.  The advent of the Internet and social networking has elevated the concept of advertising and marketing beyond mere appeal for a sale into something that draws people into pursuing an active relationship with the brand.

Advertising began to take place first through posters and print ads in the 18th and 19th centuries, and subsequently on radio during the 1920s, and television during the 1940s.  The arrival of the Internet in the 1990s created a new platform for advertising, but even with the Internet's growing popularity and increasing role as a virtual marketplace, the advertising industry staunchly clung to its traditional roots and was slow to embrace change.  The Internet required a different approach in order to market effectively, and it was seen by many traditional marketers as little more than a passing fad.

television advertising Slowly, some advertisers began to latch on to the digital opportunities presented by the Internet and began creating "viral videos" to ignite interest in their products and services.  "Viral advertising" was an interesting new concept because it bypassed the problems inherent with the traditional interruption model of advertising.  Viral videos were easy to release online and quickly passed from one viewer to another.  This word of mouth format created demand for the advertisements through approval and recommendation of the target market's social contacts.

online advertising In addition to viral marketing, brands began to expand their online presence through social networks, blogs, games, and interactive websites.  Marketing began to be less about the one-sided story of the product, and more about the organic interaction between advertiser and consumer.  Smaller, more innovative advertising companies, which were often overlooked, began to win large brand accounts as they effectively reacted to the constantly evolving social media criterion.

All of this led to a large degree of change and restructuring in the advertising world.  An agency whose creative department used to contain mostly copywriters and art directors will now find itself employing technologists, event organizers, and PR professionals as well.  They must work together to generate campaigns that are effective across the full range of old and new media alike.

The future of advertising is wide open.  Gone are the days of an obnoxious television announcer demanding that the viewers buy a particular product or be subject to ridicule from their friends and neighbors.  Audiences of today demand to be treated with respect as intelligent human beings, and brands who fail to do so are increasingly being left behind in the dust.  Consumers want to feel like they are a part of something rather than simply a passive audience.  Wise marketing agencies are realizing that the digital age has changed all the advertising rules and they must learn to creatively adapt or move out of the way.
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