history of advertising agency

The Evolution of Advertising Agencies – from the Era of Print to the Era of Internet

SEO, SMM, PPC, Facebook, Instagram……..  The list of these keywords used by the new-age advertising agencies is never-ending. However, not even a single service that is offered by today’s digital advertising agencies was offered by the advertising agencies of the 18th century. Then what changed the complete scenario? What led to the evolution of marketing and advertising agencies? How did the services provided by an agency expand?

If you wish to know the answers to these questions, then this article might be just what you are looking for. So without making you wait any further, let us dive into the journey of advertising agencies

To describe the complete journey of the advertising agencies, the period of study is divided into two segments.

1. Pre-Internet

2. Post-Internet

The Pre-Internet Era

This era was all about newspaper and magazine commercials. The business was simple back then. Companies or individuals used to buy various ad slots at discounted prices from the newspapers and sell them to big brands with a markup. 

Yes, that is it. No other services. Just an amalgamation of the best slots sold at the right time to make money. 

During this era, the first advertising agency came into existence. It was in the year 1786 that Mr. William Taylor opened his office in London that is today known as the first advertising agency in the history of marketing companies. 

But Mr. William was not the one behind the spread of the agency concept across the Globe. It is said that it was Volney B. Palmer, who made the concept of agencies go viral. She then opened her first agency in America in the 1840s.

However, she never expanded the services that came under the banner of digital advertising. Back then, Palmer’s agency was just buying ad slots from newspapers. Hence, she was only a broker with no control over the creative aspect of the advertisements. 

And then came the superheroes of the agency business - N.W. Ayer & Son. At N.W. Ayer & Son, the advertising agency not only sold ad slots at a markup but was also involved in planning, visualizing, writing, and executing the entire marketing plan for businesses

(Pre-internet Ads)

Their model became the blueprint for the thriving present-day marketing companies that other a club of services to their customers. Their client portfolio had names like De Beers, AT&T, the U.S. Army, and many more.

The Post Internet Era

The post-internet era was totally different. With globalization and no barrier to entry, numerous companies came into existence, which simply meant more competition. One way to move ahead of the competition was great advertisements, and this is what made the concept of digital advertising agencies to burst all over the world economy.

The post-internet era agencies or the present-day marketing companies are not just restricted to online media buying. Their services involve creating ads, content, graphics, blogs, video, etc. and deploy them on various content promotion channels. 

The agencies are responsible for understanding the marketing goals of a company and designing the complete campaign around the same. With new technologies coming in, the whole advertising ecosystem seems to have expanded in ways that were unknown in the pre-internet era.

The companies are now playing on big data and trying to analyze the buyer’s persona before launching an ad campaign. The era of hit and trial is gone. The advertising agencies nowadays rely heavily on analytical tools to curate campaigns.

Also, the marketing goals are now divided into two-part.

  1. Long Term Marketing Efforts that involve online reputation management of the brand and SEO.

      2. Short Term Marketing Efforts that involve paid campaigns and online + offline activations for better but short-term mass outreach.

Talking about the best advertising agencies today, these companies have specialized in a particular form of marketing and vouch for their designs, content pieces, and ad structuring. Some of the big names today in the advertising world are Web Chutney, Dentsu, Omnicom Group, Creative Thinks Media, etc. These advertising agencies are building clutter-breaking campaigns by relying on their skilled workforce and analytical data

In conclusion, it is imperative to note that the evolution of agencies did not happen in a matter of decades. The changing markets, economies, and channels of distribution have made marketing an ever-changing game, and hence the online advertising agencies are also evolving continuously.