“It is hard to find a satisfactory definition of advertising. A picturesque way of putting it is to call it business imagination, an imagination that sees in a product, possibilities which can be realised only by appealing to the public in new ways…”

It’s interesting that these were the first words in “The Business of Advertising” by Earnest Elmo Calkins. It’s fascinating that they were originally published in 1915. It’s astonishing that he could easily have been talking about online marketing!

The conclusion can only be that advertising has changed hugely in the last century – and, at the same time, hasn’t altered at all. It is still about what it always has been about – finding the maximum-possible audience of those you might interest, and then telling them what they want to know in a way that encourages them to do what you want them to.

A century ago, it was mainly in newspapers and magazines – or periodicals if you prefer. There were men walking city streets with billboards slung around them, perhaps an occasional discreet sign here and there. Since then we’ve heard ads on radio (mainly in North America for quite a long time), seen them on TV and cinema, found them pushed through our letterboxes in one format or another, even watched planes trailing ads across the skies.

Now – the advertising workplace (as in the place where your advertising works) is changing rapidly in so many ways. Increasingly, if you are not on Twitter, Facebook, Google and the like – then you are simply not there (in the prospect’s eye-line). If you are not available on desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile, or smartTV – and many of the more traditional media too – you are simply nowhere.

Earnest Elmo Calkins might initially shake his head in wonder if he was suddenly assaulted by our modern world. He would quickly appreciate, surely, that making use of professional online marketing services, is the way to go!


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