As the common idiom goes, Sales is the oldest profession in the world. When mankind first learned how to hunt, one caveman quickly learned how to barter with another to get what he wanted. And with that, sales were born.
That is, of course, an uneducated guess at how it went down. Chances are there were many other professions before sales. But sales soon became one of the most prominent professions, going so far as to dictate the most fundamental aspect of the western world. I am, of course, talking about capitalism. The ideology in which we live. It defines our society. Our culture. Our financial systems and work systems are all built upon the ideas of capitalism. And capitalism is, at its heart, all about sales.
And you cannot talk about sales without talking about the backbone of it. Marketing. Without marketing, you might as well talk to an empty room and hope a ghost buys your product. Marketing can be as small as calling someone over to your stall at the market, all the way up to a TV advertising campaign.
Today we are going to look at one area of marketing that is still technically in its infancy, and yet has evolved into something that dominates the industry. Digital Advertising.
You might be wondering how it is still in its infancy? For the simple fact that digital products have only existed for the last twenty or thirty-odd years. Yet it seems impossible to imagine a world without the internet and technology now.
The first type of true digital advertising could be said to have appeared at the advent of the first-ever digital camera, in 1988. Pictured advertising is nothing new. People and companies have been using this method for as long as they could draw. And photographs are an old invention now. But digital photos are a breed all their own. Previously you were forced to make use of the physical copies of the photos you took. Sure they could be uploaded onto a document and printed en mass, but the quality was not as good as the digital counterpart.
But with the digital camera, we saw advertising step up its game. Because now we could simply take the picture directly from the camera’s memory and put it onto whatever we wanted. Improving advertising visual quality and creating a lot more opportunities for the creative departments to work with. Mainly because digital photos could be edited a lot easier. Airbrushing and photoshop would soon follow.
This leads to the next big step in the advertising game. Digital art. Exactly like regular art except it is drawn or created on a digital landscape. Using a computer, tablet, or phone. In 2D or 3D. The possibilities are endless. Computer-generated imagery changed the game. Now companies could create fully realized models of what their products would look like long before they had to build a prototype.
Companies could create outrageous images and symbols for their logos. Brands branched out and did inventive and wild things to grasp their audience. Companies could now show people what their outlandish future tech will look like and how it will function, driving up hype and demand for said product.
Animation was the next big step for advertising. Every since cartoons were invented they have been used in adverts. Disney characters are always flogging products. And the Simpsons actually started out as a marketing campaign for Butterfingers.
3D Animation meant companies could create more visually stunning adverts for TV and Cinemas. Stuff that could really capture the imagination. It also meant companies could bypass a lot of traditional health and safety laws concerned with filming a live commercial.
In some places, you can still see the leftovers of classic advertising. Giant billboards with posters plastered over them. Bus-stop posters and flyers put through doors. But in our modern world, we have switched to a more modern way of advertising. Now, in most places, you will see hundreds of digital advertising displays. These displays function exactly like a TV or computer screen, but simply display static images or videos on a loop.
If you want a good example of these displays, just look up Times Square in New York City. It is perhaps the most well-known center for digital advertising displays. Back at their invention these displays were expensive and cumbersome, mostly reserved for large installments for massive companies. Chances are you would only see them in capital cities or in sports stadiums.
But as tech has advanced, so too have digital advertising displays. Have you been to a Mcdonald’s or KFC lately? Seen how all their menus are now on digital screens that slowly change through the menu. These are the same displays used in Times Square.
Seen those giant billboards that are nothing more than massive screens, also shifting through different posters. Again, these are the same displays. The world is changing and soon all forms of advertising will be moved onto digital displays rather than physical fliers or posters.
Who can say where the world of advertising will go next? Technology seems to be advancing at a rapid pace. Each year we take bigger strides. I wouldn’t be surprised if soon we have adverts beamed directly into our dreams. But for now, we can simply marvel at the neon skyscapes and dream of the future.