Advertising and mid-19th century, newspapers almost never printed advertisements

Advertising is a promotional platform that has infiltrated
the entire world over hundreds of years. Today, it is one of the most powerful
tools used by companies, organisations and businesses in order to promote their
image, accumulate sales or to increase brand awareness. As Professor Aeron
Davis states, “in the 21st Century such promotional activity and its outputs
have become ubiquitous,” highlighting how in current times, advertising is so
common that we as consumers no longer notice it, despite the fact that it
surrounds us and is seeping into our everyday lives. To a certain extent, this
is true. However, it can be argued that in today’s world, consumers are able to
control and acknowledge their own responses towards these advertisements. From
a personal perspective, I find the growth of advertising fascinating and with
the constantly evolving use of technology, it can only get bigger. This essay
will explore the impact of advertising in modern America, where as a consumer
society, is immersed in media and advertisements. 

Traditional forms of advertising began to rise in the 18th
century where Benjamin Franklin began to publish print advertisements in his
newspaper the Pennsylvania Gazette.
Following this, advertisements rarely evolved and throughout the 18th
and mid-19th century, newspapers almost never printed advertisements
wider than a single column (Eadie, 2009). In 1922, the world’s first radio advertisement
was broadcast by the WEAF radio station in New York, however, consumers were
not very supportive of this due to the fact that radio, at the time, was viewed
as a public service, and advertising was seen as the opposite to this. However
since then, America has seen more and more advertising and with that, a lot of
it has been ingeniously disguised as something else (Miller, 1997). Due to the
increase in advertising over the decades, a lot of these advertisements have
“passed into our hearts and minds without our seeing it or knowing it,” (ibid.)
which fully supports the statement made by Aeron Davis regarding how “promotion
appears everywhere, so much so that we no longer notice.”

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Thirty years ago, a consumer living in a city would see up
to 2,000 advertisements a day. Today, they can see up to 5,000 advertisements,
according to Yankelovich, a market research firm based in America (Story,
2007). Throughout the United States, advertising expenditure is currently over “$160
billion a year, which buys an average of 1,500 person-exposures every day of
which a fraction are remembered and fewer still in a positive way, placing
estimates of wastage at as much as $40 billion a year,” (Sheth & Sisodia
1995) which showcases a large decline in the impact advertisements have on
consumers, ultimately going against the statement made by Professor Aeron Davis.
The rise of technology has also led to a decrease in effectiveness of
traditional advertising (print, radio, television etc.). Advances in television
have caused problems for companies wanting to use commercials as their
advertising platforms. With the introduction of television upgrades such as
Sky+ On Demand, consumers are now able to record their favourite television
programmes and skip through the adverts (after it has aired live), making it
difficult to reach consumers through their televisions. Also, online streaming
platforms such as Netflix have also contributed to this decline due to offering
consumers ad-free content with thousands of television series and movies on
demand. Therefore, many advertisers now agree that the best way to reach
consumers is to try to catch their eye at every turn. Linda Kaplan Thaler,
chief executive at a New York ad agency ‘The Kaplan Thaler Group’, notes that
“we never know where the consumer is going to be at any point in time, so we
have to find a way to be everywhere… ubiquity is the new exclusivity.” Here,
Thaler is also showcasing how in today’s world, the best way to advertise is to
appear everywhere that a consumer may be, which supports the statement made by
Professor Aeron Davis.