We've spent most of the autumn debating what we're going to do about ad blockers without thinking about the bigger picture. To us, Friday night brought that home. Yes, ads can be annoying and interruptive, and some that deliver malware or slow the browsing experience slip through, but without advertising we do not have free and open information. Without advertising we face the prospect of no news, news for which we have to pay, or government sponsored news.
No wonder it has been so difficult to establish transparency in the advertising industry. From its very inception advertising’s business model was based on secrecy. A history of more than 150 years is difficult to erase.
The first advertising “agent,” Volney Palmer, opened a shop in Philadelphia in 1843. Palmer essentially worked as a lead generation service for local publishers, sending ad copy written by the advertiser along with collected payment to the newspapers for which it was intended. There was no copy-checking, and no “truth in advertising” standard, and no creativity. If you paid for the space in the newspaper, the ad ran.
Palmer did not work on behalf of the advertiser at all. However, some time later, a man named Samuel Pettingill opened an agency in New York and changed the model to one of an independent space broker, taking his payment as a commission on the fees paid to publishers. Naturally the agent wanted to buy space from the publisher as inexpensively as possible and sell it to advertisers for as much as possible, without revealing the numbers to either party.
Because of this lack of transparency, neither side trusted the advertising agent in the 19th century. InThe Mirror Makers... Read more
It’s heart-wrenching to watch the final episodes of “Mad Men” and watch the market researchers come in and the intuitive creatives go out as Sterling Cooper Draper Price gets absorbed into McCann Erickson, especially if you are still in advertising and realize that was just the beginning of the struggle of the agency concept to survive. With its mystique diminished, the former Sterling Cooper staff is nothing more than a half dozen arms and legs to add to a McCann meeting.
Over the past forty years, agencies have only gotten larger and larger, combining finally into holding companies, almost as if they are huddling together in a single tent to fight off an invader. The marauder, of course, is change itself. The growth of television and its quick rise to supremacy over print as a way to reach audiences was contemporaneous with the appearance of the first mainframe computers in agency back rooms. It’s almost as though the new medium demanded its own new tools.
Outside the agency things were changing just as quickly.We saw Peggy Olsen become the first woman to rise out of the secretarial pool and the introduction of Tampax and Topaz Pantyhose as brands that represented the growing... Read more