FORGET ABOUT “NEW MEDIA” – communicators have always been inventive when it comes to reaching hearts, minds and eyeballs. Back in high school I loved learning how the ancient Assyrians dispatched clay tablets to rival territories, showing enemies being beheaded in order to chase off the opposition in advance. Here are four millennia of similarly brilliant media moments:
Egyptians invent outdoor advertising by posting public notices etched in metal.
Streetwalkers in ancient Greece signal their trade with embedded nails in their shoes – tapping the power of audio and mobile media.
Julius Caesar introduces the newspaper by posting the Acta Diurna (Daily Acts) to announce results of battles, elections and games.
Posters advertising “Liu’s Fine Needle Shop” in eastern China are printed from a copper plate, which still exists today.
Invention of the printing press leads to the first known print ad in English, a handbill selling a prayer book.
The Weekly Newes becomes England’s first newspaper; a century later, colonial papers such as Ben Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette will announce “new advertisements” as a prime attraction.
Volney Palmer opens the first advertising agency in Philadelphia, earning commissions on periodical space sold to advertisers.
N.W. Ayer & Son buys out the Palmer interests and establishes modern practices such as the 15% agency commission, in-house creative teams and rate/circulation books for advertisers.
WEAF introduces the radio commercial, charging $50 for four 15-second spots promoting a New York apartment complex.
Bulova Watch sponsors the first official TV commercial before a Brooklyn Dodgers game. Cost: $9.
Email marketing emerges before the Internet, as Digital Equipment Corporation targets ARPAnet users at research and military bases.
Online banner ads first appear at HotWired.com.
Mobile advertising makes its debut, promoting a text-message newsfeed from a Finnish media company.
YouTube takes video advertising viral, while the launch of Twitter helps advertisers span the globe in 140 characters or less.
Facebook introduces behavior-based advertising, allowing brands to target prospects by their social interactions.
Half of all online page views worldwide are now on mobile devices.
Advertising’s 4,000-year reliance on the written word is projected to wane as voice-guided browsing grows in popularity, thanks to smart speakers featuring artificial intelligence (AI) technology.