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The Evolution of Marketing and How Digitalisation Helped Reshape Marketing

On April 30th 1993, the worldwide web became available for public use, 4 years later in 1997 the first social media platform was invented, and 10 years later there was the first iPhone.

Now imagine going back to a time before all of this, an era of no internet, no social media, no mobile phones; the pre-digital era. It would be hard to survive going back to a time like this. Digitalisation has drastically helped the evolution of marketing but it is important to recognise what was used before this digital era. These are often referred to as traditional or conventional marketing methods such as:

  • Print media (newspapers, leaflets, magazines, direct mail).
  • Outdoor marketing (billboards, point of sale displays, transit vehicles).
  • Broadcasting Radio and TV

While there has been a very apparent evolution of marketing, these marketing methods have followed us into the digital world and we very much still use them today.

The pre-digital era

Print marketing is widely regarded as the oldest form of marketing to exist, dating back to 1468 and has been used in a variety of different ways. Newspapers were used in the 19th and 20th centuries as a means of geographical targeting. It was assumed that readers of one type of newspaper were completely different to those who read another elsewhere.

Outdoor marketing can be dated back to the 15th century when it was used in the form of fly posting. In the 19th century there was even more popularity with outdoor marketing as the first known billboard in the United States was used for advertisement. The introduction of motorised vehicles in the early 20th century, made way for a new means of outdoor advertising; as ads switched to the roadside. The Christmas Coca Cola truck being a famous example of this marketing method.

The first radio advertisement was accepted by AT&T’s WEAF organisation in 1922 which consisted of a 10-minute broadcast dedicated to Hawthorne Court Apartments in New York. With it being almost 100 years since the first radio advertisement, you would assume that it is losing popularity and being taken over by digital means. Actually, radio advertisement has seen a massive boom and in 2018, it was largely recognised as the fastest growing medium.

The digital era

It’s hard to pin down a specific date as to when the digital age began. Some will say it was in the 1930s when Konrad Zuse created the Z1 computer. Some will argue the invention of the world wide web in ‘93 was a significant landmark, but we believe the transition happened over a longer period of time.

When the computer was invented, you could still live without it, the same as the world wide web, which is why we believe digitalisation only ever occurred when it became impossible to live without digital products.

The way in which we now see news is one of the most famous examples of digitalisation. In the pre-digital era we were informed of news by newspapers, then along came the TV and now most of us see it in the form of social media. There is evidently still a great number of people who read newspapers however. In August 2021, statista reported that the circulation of Daily Mail newspapers was almost a million. Compare that to the number of users of Twitter in the UK, which is over 17 million. This huge shift means it makes so much more sense to advertise through digital means than through traditional methods, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be ignored entirely.

Is there still a place for traditional marketing?

Marketing is all about understanding your customers needs and considering the best ways to communicate your message. Therefore, if your customer actively reads newspapers, listens to the radio and drives past a billboard then there will always be a place for this type of marketing.

Marketing isn’t always about being obvious, sometimes we want to display our messages indirectly but still connect with the audience subconsciously. Therefore, just because social media is popular, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily always the right choice. Just displaying an advertisement cannot be considered as marketing; it’s all about connecting with the user. Sometimes our audience may be more engaged with a message when listening to the radio or reading a newspaper. On the other hand, digital methods provide a huge variety of opportunities to communicate with an audience, so it is all about picking the right methods for the right moments.

So while it is important that we don’t neglect traditional marketing, it is also even more important that we use digital marketing in the right ways to increase our audiences and improve our communications

If you’re interested in seeing how we can help you improve your digital marketing, give us a call on 01249 847 447 or email us at studio@milkandtweed.com

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