10 Events That Transformed Marketing

Liodice: The First in a 10-Part Series Chronicling the Industry Over the Past 100 Years

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Bob Liodice
Bob Liodice
Founded in 1910, the Association of National Advertisers is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Originally known as the Association of National Advertising Managers, the organization began in Detroit with representatives from 45 different companies. Their purpose was "to advance the knowledge of advertising as far as may be possible, to an exact science, so that members could expend their advertising appropriations more intelligently and effectively."

During the year, I will be writing a series of articles on major events shaping advertising and marketing during these 100 years.

Over the course of history, countless events have contributed to the marketing industry's evolution. Some were based on new technologies, others on the actions of the ANA and other like-minded organizations. Here are 10 events from the last century that have effectively transformed the marketing landscape.

Marketing timeline

SELLING FOR A CENTURY: Invention and innovation that changed marketing and advertising.
1. The Audit Bureau of Circulations
The premise behind the ANA's creation was to help advertisers be more precise in their function. Details were murky regarding print advertising's reach and effectiveness, and the ANA sought to find an answer for members' needs to standardize circulation auditing procedures and definitions. The group took a major step toward fulfilling its mission in 1914 when it created the Audit Bureau of Circulations. To this day, the ABC is the primary electronic database of audited circulation, verified readership, subscriber demographics and online-activity data.

2. Radio
For almost 100 years, advertising was primarily relegated to print. But when radio broadcasting began, advertisers made their way into the medium quickly, excited by the ability to connect a voice, and even a well-known personality, with a campaign. Early radio advertising included program sponsorship, and companies and brands even began to produce many of their own programs.

The first radio commercials aired in 1922 on WEAF in New York by real-estate firm The Queensboro Corp. The $200 buy of four, 10-minute segments was a hit, and three weeks later, the corporation had made $27,000 in sales.

By 1928, radio had become an ad-supported medium. Despite the introductions of countless newer media competitors, radio has maintained its role as one of the 20th century's chief outlets for a corporation's message, offering a targeted, but still broad, audience.

3. TV
TV expanded the possibilities for advertising even further than radio, bringing campaigns visibly to life. In 1941, the first TV commercial ran when Bulova spent $4 for 10 seconds of air time on New York's WNBT before a Phillies-Dodgers baseball game. By 1955, TV ad spend had already reached $1 billion, and by 2000 that number would surpass $59 billion.

While much debate has surrounded the supposed death of the 30-second spot, marketers have begun using the medium beyond standard commercials, integrating with it using product placement, and keeping advertising on TV relevant. It is clear that TV advertising is one of the mainstays of our culture, from the nostalgia associated with vintage ads to the hype that surrounds Super Bowl spots every year.

4. The War Advertising Council, now the Ad Council
In 1940-1941 the ad industry was concerned about hostility toward business following the Depression. The ANA and the 4A's convened to discuss what could be done, which most felt was to run ads explaining the economic value of advertising. James Webb Young proposed creating public-service advertising that used the medium to promote international understanding, wipe out disease and hunger, and support the arts. His inspiring speech led to the formation of the War Advertising Council in early 1942. Its powerful first campaigns, including Rosie the Riveter and "Loose Lips Sink Ships," supported America's war effort.

President Roosevelt asked the Council to continue its efforts post-war, and Harry Truman recognized that they could effectively reach the public on any number of issues that were non war-related. The hundreds of public-service campaigns that have run since, including 1944's Smoky Bear, 1979's McGruff and the 1980s' Crash Test Dummies, showcase the widespread impact that the Ad Council continues to have on our world's well-being.

5. The National Advertising Review Council and industry self-regulation
In 1971, the advertising profession recognized the need for an organization that would hold the members of their own industry up to review and ensure that they were following uniform industry guidelines. The ANA, 4A's and the American Advertising Federation formed an alliance with the Council of Better Business Bureaus to create an independent, self-regulatory body, the National Advertising Review Council.

Minimizing government involvement with advertising by maintaining public trust, and keeping the playing field level amongst advertisers, the NARC helps keep the industry performing at its best.

6. Video-recording devices
VCRs became mass-market consumer products in the late 1970s. No one predicted the impact that recording devices would have on the world of advertising. "Fast forwarding" through commercials began with the invention of the VCR, and became faster, easier and more commonplace with the invention of the DVR in 1998. The response from the industry was swift, with brands turning to product placement to integrate themselves directly into programming, and creating ads that viewers would either opt to watch or that included a logo that could be seen as a static image despite fast-forwarding. The technological advancements of recording devices have motivated the advertising community to up its creative ante. These devices have been a hurdle, but one that the industry will jump over with the right mix of tools.

7. The Florida ad tax of 1987
In 1987, the Florida Legislature adopted a broad tax on professional services, including advertising. This was the first effort of a state government to impose a sales tax on all advertising, whether state or national. Revenue officials even proposed taxing ads on blimps, based on an estimate of people who happened to see it as it flew by.

The business community responded vehemently. Many national advertisers eliminated or reduced spot buys in Florida, at a cost of $12 million to local broadcasters in just the first six months of the tax. ANA worked closely with many other associations on one of the most intensive lobbying efforts ever, and as a result the ad tax was repealed within a year. Since then the industry has defeated similar proposals. The arguments made then are just as relevant today as state governments continue to aggressively look for new revenue.

8. The internet
The 1990s ushered in the internet, and with it countless opportunities for the world's advertisers. "New media," including websites with pop-ups, banners and more took focus and spend from traditional media, leaving brands that react quickly stalled on the side of the Information Superhighway. By the mid-1990s, web-ad spending was already up to $300 million, and more than triple that by 2000. While the companies that thrived in the earliest days of the web were quickly gone with the bust of the early 2000s, the new ad medium proved its permanence. It has had a ripple effect throughout the entire advertising community, as brands constantly strive to integrate their traditional media with the new and use the internet to its full potential.

9. Cellphones
Mobile-phone marketing has become increasingly popular since the rise of SMS, when businesses began to collect mobile-phone numbers and send off wanted (or unwanted) content. Mobile ads, including banners, coupons, MMS picture and video messages, advergames and various engagement-marketing campaigns have brought marketing into consumers' hands. The popularity, capability and versatility of smartphones, and more specifically the iPhone, have made the devices part of the fabric of our everyday life. Marketers' clever uses of these devices will only continue to proliferate in the future.

10. Social media and viral marketing
With the internet came the rise of social media, and with this new era of instant networking and sharing came viral marketing. The resounding theme of events as early as the 2006 ANA Annual Conference was that of consumer control. This has remained true, and even gained importance, as social media has become an even larger part of our daily lives. The rise of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have forced brands to let go of their one-way models of communication and embrace feedback from their biggest critics: consumers.

Bob Liodice is president-CEO, ANA
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