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1913. 1943. 1963. 2013. What do these years have in common? Aside from ending in the number three, these years all marked the dawn of a new era, one that ushered in a new wave of automation in society.
Let's start with the most recent: 2013. This is the year that automated buying in mobile advertising first took-off. The devices' size, personal nature, and on-the-go connectivity make it one of the most disruptive and innovative mediums to keep consumers engaged and connected with places, moments, and brands. Consumers' constant interaction and brands' innate need to engage at scale perfectly set the stage for automated buying and selling of advertisements over any type of device.
But this is just an evolution in a long line of automating very important tasks.
Let's take a step back in time. People have been finding ways to automate tasks, make life easier, and do things smarter since the beginning of time. In fact, some of the earliest automation dates back to 500 – 900 A.D. when windmills were developed to automate the task of pumping water in Persia. While still in use today, modern-era windmills built on the success of earlier versions and continued to improve over time as new technology enabled these devices to be more effective and efficient.
The same can be said for assembly lines, computers, and calculators; each of which trace their origins to a date in, you guessed it, 1913, 1943 and 1963, respectively.
When Henry Ford introduced the assembly line in 1913, it shortened the production time of a car from 12 hours to two and a half hours. With the help of the assembly line, Ford employees churned out a single car in 20 percent of the time it took without it. Coupled with standardized parts, the assembly line enabled Ford to produce more automobiles at a lower cost. This in turn, afforded more consumers the opportunity to have their very own Model T.
It was in 1963 that Bell Punch Co. introduced "Anita," credited as the world's first electronic desk-top calculator. Today's calculator bears little resemblance to its early predecessor – the abacus – but "machines" have helped us solve complex arithmetic problems for more than 4,000 years. One of our first hand-held devices was the "pocket calculator" which became popular in the 1970s and was commonly selling for upwards of $300. Innovation over time has made calculators smaller, increasingly capable of advanced statistical calculations, and far less costly to produce.
While the term "computer" was being used in 1613 in reference to a person that performed calculations, the first modern-era electric programmable computer, demonstrated in 1943, was developed to help the British code breakers during WWII read encrypted German messages. Innovation over the next 70 years paved the way for today's computers, which support nearly every aspect of day-to-day life in the developed world, from banking to blogging and medicine to mobile.
A by-product of computers is data – and lots of it. It's been reported that every minute of every day more than 570 new websites are created, consumers spend more than $270k shopping on the web, brands and organizations receive more than 34k "likes," and more than 215 first time users surf the mobile web. This generates a lot data - data that can provide plenty of insights into consumer behavior.
Entire industries have emerged due to innovation and continue to evolve as computing has become less expensive and more powerful. Take artificial intelligence (AI) for example. AI is the automating of intellectual tasks, such as reasoning, planning, communicating. Jeopardy! fans may recall IBM's Watson won the show's first $1 million prize, beating out two real-life contenders and former Jeopardy! champs. The first commercial use of Watson's underlying software is supporting the treatment of lung cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and this year, Google alone dropped $3.6 billion to acquire two AI companies.
Technology today can perform certain tasks far quicker and far more precise than any human. This can lead to resistance and backlash that stems from the fear that "I can be replaced." But, what history has shown is that these technological advancements hasten individual prosperity and can precede an economic boon. Technology provides a competitive edge to companies that harness its power. It is in our nature, as humans, to evolve and to innovate; to work smarter.
And we're just in our infancy in the way advertising will evolve, mature and change over the next few years. From wearables to augmented reality, we are just at the cusp of greater convergence, engagement and potentially the holy grail of advertising.
About the Sponsor
Mollie Spilman is responsible for leading the company's global sales, operations and marketing teams. Mollie has spent 24 years in the media business and most recently served as the CMO of Yahoo! Prior to Yahoo!, Mollie was the CEO of two technology start-ups and also served as Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of Advertising.com, acquired by AOL in 2004. She has also held senior positions at various other media companies including Time Warner, Meredith Corporation and Discovery Networks.
Mollie has been honored with multiple industry awards, including Mobile Marketing's "Mobile Women to Watch" in 2012 and Ad Age's "Women to Watch" in 2013.
Mollie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.
Millennial Media is the leading independent mobile ad platform company, supporting the world's top brands and mobile content providers. The company's unique data and technology assets enable its clients to connect with their target audiences as they move across screens, media, and moments. Millennial Media drives meaningful results at scale through a diverse suite of products fueled by innovation and the industry's smartest minds. For more information, visit www.millennialmedia.com.