Suffice it to say that the only reliable ad blockers you could get in the 1970s were to close your eyes, cover your ears, or switch channels.
The days before the internet, when sellers were trying to get consumers to buy their products, were much less confused than they are today, said Rick Hosmer, chief marketing officer for Spokane-based advertising agency and web design firm Klundt Hosmer, which is related to print publications, radio, Billboards, mailers, and commercials through only a limited number of television channels that serve as the predominant forms of advertising for the American public.
Today, Google search ads, personalized website display ads, web video ads, ads on streaming services, and sponsored social media posts are among the many forms of digital marketing that have shaped the advertising industry today, said Hosmer, the center of the Year Klündt co-founded Hosmer – until the end of the 1980s.
“It’s not like the traditional media has gone away,” said Hosmer. “We still use all of these, but now we have so many more platforms available to us. I would say it’s more complicated now than it was back then, but one thing that is really great now that we just couldn’t back then is the ability to see the results of the ad. “
While the goals of ads remain unchanged, their methods of persuading consumers to purchase certain products or services have certainly evolved since the 1970s.
At the forefront is digital personalized advertising based on user data to target people in specific demographics based on a variety of factors, be it their location, gender, or interests. Large-scale micro-targeting advertising just wasn’t possible in the 1970s, said Mark Forehand, chair of the department of marketing at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.
“Instead of a one-size-fits-all expressing that massive brand image, it becomes a very targeted message that is sometimes branded but often directly related to the behavior they are trying to influence.” Forehand said.
Hosmer and Nico Archer, senior vice president of Spokane-based communications agency DH, said advertisers are wise not to neglect traditional forms of advertising despite the proliferation of digital advertising.
Archer cited that targeted mailings recently tested positive across the industry as there is “less noise and less competition” among mailings. This is in contrast to the many e-mail ads that exist today which, thanks to spam or marketing filters, are often ignored by people.
“Any medium can be really effective,” he said. “It’s about how you use it strategically to hit your audience.”
Ads glorifying tobacco products have become relics due to tightened federal regulations and anti-smoking thoughts. Conversely, pharmaceutical and legal advertising became much more common after a number of US Supreme Court cases ruled in favor of protecting those subject to the First Amendment in the mid-1970s, according to the Freedom Forum Institute.
Advertisers and industry experts are closely monitoring how platforms, online data protection and regulations governing the use of personal data will develop in the future.
“A lot of it depends on how willing people are to let this happen because a lot of it can be blocked, but the younger generations tend to be a lot more open to anything that is public,” said Forehand of the handling of personal information used in advertising . “My guess is that as these younger generations get older, you’ll see more and more of this general reluctance to be chased and let people know what you’re up to – as this goes down the micro-targeting ability will only increase marginally.”
For his part, Hosmer said he believed targeted advertising wasn’t necessarily bad.
“I might get bombarded with ads, but they’re probably things that I really enjoy. I learn something or at least have the opportunity to learn something that is more important to me than things that I don’t care about. “