Marketing , Publishing

Evolution of Print Advertising and Marketing

The story of print advertising has come a long way, from the printing press, to the 20th century advertising revolution, to consumer oriented marketing, read on to know what's next

Advertising and media reach billions of consumers today. Information Technology & Artificial Intelligence have taken advertising and marketing to new frontiers. This journey did not begin with computers though. It all started in the 15th century, with the invention of the printing press.


The printed word was quickly adopted for mass communication. Royal proclamations and administrative announcements were printed and circulated. Newsletters were sent to people far and wide. Political, social and economic forces came together, and print media became the unifying force. The connected and complex world as we know today was created.

Mass marketing underwent a significant change in the 20th century. The product became the focus of the marketing message. Brands were personified as living beings. Fictional, animated and real characters began to be associated with brands. Brands created stories around themselves. These stories were used to sell the brands' products.



These stories were very powerful and effective. For example, during the decades from 1960 to 1990, the Marlboro Man of Marlboro cigarettes emerged as a terrific marketing force. The Marlboro Man portrayed an ideal masculine image, and male consumers of Marlboro cigarettes identified with him. A masculine aesthetic overtook the traditionally feminine appeal of the cigarette brand. Marlboro cigarettes quickly became the fourth highest selling brand in America.



However, the tide has turned. The focus of marketing has shifted from the product to the consumer. Marketing is no longer about selling a product to the consumer. It is about solving the consumers' problems. Advertising is no longer a message created by the brands for their benefit. Rather, it is created for the consumer, in collaboration with the consumer and to solve the problems of the consumer. A paradigm shift has occurred.

Trust is the currency of this new paradigm. Brands don't just want to sell products. They also want to earn the consumers' trust. Traditional marketing methods of using a figurehead like the Marlboro Man are less effective for building trust. Real life scenarios and testimonials from other satisfied customers are much more effective at inspiring trust.



A consumer who trusts a brand is its biggest promoter. Advertising done by consumers is the best kind there is. To this end, brands want to turn their consumers into fans and evangelists. These fans and evangelists would attract new consumers and grow the brand.

However, all is not good. Print advertising is facing newer challenges now. Print advertising, especially in magazines, focuses on highly visual brand marketing. However, brands are now migrating to digital advertising, reaching their customers directly. The internet and targeted digital advertising are eating into print advertising's industry share.


Secondly, the modern consumer is over exposed to marketing messages. A typical consumer was exposed to 500 marketing messages each day in the 1970s. That figure has increased tenfold, with the modern consumer being bombarded with a whopping 5,000 marketing messages a day. Standing out amidst the noise is becoming difficult for brands. Brands have to resort to increasingly innovative marketing strategies to attract the consumer's attention.

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What will the future hold? Will print advertising go the way of the dinosaur? Will digital advertising completely take over?

Or will print advertising emerge in an entirely new form? Backed by technology breakthroughs like Augmented Reality, will print advertising usher in a new golden age of marketing?

Only time can tell, for the evolution of print advertising and marketing is still ongoing.

While we are at it, why don't you check out how WOWSOME is using Augmented Reality to transform print advertising? Click here to learn more.