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Now and then. How technology has changed… Advertising.


Fans of the acclaimed TV series about old-school advertising executives, Mad Men, will know that working in advertising once meant coming up with catchy headlines and clever ideas to sell products. The options were either for TV or cinema ads, print ads or radio. Much has changed since then, with new forms of technology leading a revolution in the communication industry.

Out with the old, in with the tech

The creative departments of today are very different from those of just 20 years ago. Art Directors can perform amazingly complex photo editing while enjoying a flat white at the local cafe, a task that would have required a bulky and powerful desktop not so long ago. Copywriters no longer need to dash to the library to search through countless dusty tomes. Now, so much information is available online there’s barely any need for a good old-fashioned book.

The biggest transformation to the ad industry is how brands can now communicate with their audiences. Everyone is online, connected, and interacting with each other. As smart devices get smarter and the internet continues to grow and develop, we spend longer on our mobiles, tablets and laptops.

The online challenge

In today’s advertising world, the challenge is to connect with an audience in real time and create campaigns that work across social media, e-commerce and online advertising. To achieve this, digital experts now work alongside the traditional creatives. What might once have been opposites – creativity and computing – now join forces.

The all-new Mad Men world is feeling the full force of technology which has transformed the speed, relevance and reach of a marketing campaign.

Thinking faster, reacting quicker

The speed at which work can now be created would have Mad Men creative director Don Draper dropping his glass of Canadian Club in shock. What once took weeks to produce can now be achieved in days, or even hours. Brands can react to something that’s in the news almost instantaneously, getting the message out there before the digital ink has even dried.

Talking to each audience

Developments in technology have allowed advertising to be more relevant to the consumer. Specific markets and consumer groups can be targeted with messages tailored to an almost individual level. You are more likely to see products and services that appeal to you, your family and fit into your lifestyle. This means that a stronger bond can be created between the brand and its audience; a dialogue is opened and there is less chance the consumer feels the brand is just talking at them.

More reach, more choice

The likes of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are giving advertisers more ways than ever to communicate with you. What makes social media so different is individuals can instantly share messages they find valuable with everyone they know. A good message can grow and grow across social media, reaching out to more people than ever before, and all the sharing is done by the public. There are no more boundaries.

Advertising agencies know technology moves on all the time. Creativity is vital, but it has to play catch-up with new technology, finding the best and most appropriate ways to use these ever-evolving tools.

The internet of things

‘The Internet of things’ is the idea that devices embedded in everyday objects will all be connected through the internet. We’re still quite a way form this becoming reality, but perhaps not quite as far as all that. For example, does your TV connect to the internet? How about your fridge? Or kettle? Go back just 5 years ago and someone saying your watch could connect to the internet might have sounded like science fiction, but now Smart watches are common and becoming more and more affordable.

Of course, before advertisers can start pondering how to place ads onto your toaster, they have more pressing new technology to get their heads around.

One of the main up and coming technologies is virtual reality. An obvious choice for gaming, this new tech has also been used for travel marketing, with immersive virtual holiday destinations and hotels being created to help give customers a glimpse of the trip they’re about to book. Augmented reality, where virtual images are placed in your real world environment, will be used to help people visualise the new kitchen they’re about to buy, or how that new sofa will fit into their living room. And this is just the start…

So, what does the future hold for advertising? Well, no matter what advances technology makes, it’s safe to say that it will be human creativity and wisdom rather than data and algorithms that will lead all forms of communication. Which is something Don Draper would be pleased to know.

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