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The Evolution of Internet Advertising

How to Get Ahead in Advertising
How to Get Ahead in Advertising (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Hector Cisneros

Advertising has evolved over the last 100 years, but it's the advent of the internet that has had the biggest impact on how and what we consumers pay attention to. The last 20 years have freed consumers from the trappings of time and space and has allowed them to take charge of what they see, read and hear. The internet has empowered consumers to control their message-consuming destiny and it has ushered in the era of consumer control over false advertising and poor customer service.

In the Beginning, There Was the Media

The beginning of the 20th century, advertising was dominated by print, then radio, followed by TV, junk mail and telemarketing. The last 20 years have seen the rise of the Internet as a daily use utility. Its capabilities have changed how we act, think, talk, work and play. It has frustrated, overwhelmed, bombarded and forced us to learn new ways of interacting; and finally, it has empowered consumers to take charge of how they are sold to.

What Changed in the Last 20 Years?

English: www,domain,internet,web,net
English: www,domain,internet,web,net (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The timeline of the last 20 years looks like this. The World Wide Web begins in 1993, soon followed by Internet Email and the first Banner Ads starting in 1994. Search engines emerge followed by early models of pay per view and pay per click ads, eventually evolving into Google's Adword's model in 2000. Mobile SMS also made their debut followed by POP Up ads in 2001 and blogging (with Adsense ads) in 2003. YouTube was purchased and promoted by Google in 2005; Facebook begins its trek to social media dominance that year also. Mobile Websites (with AdSense) take off in 2007 followed by Online Article (In-Text Ads) and LinkedIn (with social on-page ads) in 2008. Mobile apps emerge (with ads) in 2009 followed by Twitter celebrity endorsement advertising in 2010 and Facebook Mobile and Native Advertising (ads that look like content) in 2012. Today all of these advertising venues are being employed, trying to reach consumers hearts, minds and pocketbooks.

The Collision of Technologies Elevates the Value of Time and Choice

During the last 20 years, the escalation of new knowledge, new technologies, instant access to news, various media content and the bombardment of internet related advertising has caused information overload. This has made the use of our time very precious. The advent of time shifting of broadcast media, the ability to skip unwanted advertisements, our ability to preview solicitation via caller ID and email previewing along with anti-spam filtering have allowed us to make choices of how we use our time.

English: Sony Professional VCR
English: Sony Professional VCR (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The advent of social networking has allowed us to connect with friends, family and other like minded users in order to share our thoughts, likes and dislikes. Consumer choice and our newfound ability to network and share our experiences have ushered in the story telling and sharing era that is empowering consumers. Now consumers have a powerful weapon against poor customer service, and can spread positive and negative recommendations so fast that it can turn a deceitful marketer's stomach. This weapon alone, (social networking) has caused many large companies to rethink their sales strategies shifting the truth in consumers favor.

What Can Advertisers Do to Make Consumers Happy?

So what is a business to do? How can they reach their target market and get their message out about their wonderful products or services? Well for one, advertisers need to start by telling the truth about their products or services. Gone are the days where an advertiser could use fluffy language, hyperbole or outright lies to sell their products. You can fool a few people today, but the truth now gets out so fast that inferior products and poor customer service are exposed quickly and the consuming public is not quick to forgive these transgressions.  

consumer society
consumer society (Photo credit: derpunk)
A second way to sway consumers is to provide added value with their products. The internet allows vendors to provide many types of value add-on’s to entice their customer base. They can provide useful, interesting, and entertaining content via free eBooks, picture galleries, and additional meaningful information. They can provide inducements via discount coupons, exclusive offers, recognition and other creative value add features that the internet can easily deliver. In other words give consumers what they want, including honesty, integrity and a good value for their money and you will not have any problem doing business online. How do you know what consumers want? Ask them!

A third item necessary is to allow consumers to connect with your company in ways they prefer. This means that your business needs to be actively engaged in at least the top five social networks (Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn). Actively engaged means actively interacting with consumers in a positive and meaningful way. Providing them with content they want. It also means that you have to be consistent, and provide prompt service or you will be labeled as a company that provides poor service.  If you think you can avoid these issues, think again. You will be labeled a bad company or poor provider anyway and you will not have a way to address service issues if you can’t connect with your customers when they are unhappy! Get set up on the top five social networks if you haven’t already.  Use them to connect and engage your customers in a positive fashion. It will pay big dividends over time.

Who’s in Charge of the Advertising Game?

Facebook, Yahoo and Google pens
Facebook, Yahoo and Google pens (Photo credit: Jeni Rodger)
There is another piece to this puzzle that cannot be ignored. It’s the companies in charge of the internet. You know whom I am talking about; Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all the other big internet media companies. They determine the search and social networking rules. If you want to succeed online today you need to give these companies what they want. Gone are the days where black hat tricks could put you on top of the search engines in thirty days or less.  Google servely penalizes companies who try and employ trickery.  Social networks now closely monitor all posts and advertisements. Any illegitimate ventures are quickly discovered and pulled because of this social reporting. The rules for success in social media are also a moving target, so tricks will only work for a short time. Today a marketer needs to learn, follow and keep up with an ever-changing set of marketing rules if they want to get found.  So what are the rules of this marketing game? What are the guidelines to success? Is there a magic formula for getting great results?

The Magic Formula for Making Consumers Happy

Here is a set of rules that when followed closely lead to marketing success:
  1. You have to provide a useful product or service.  Hype will no longer sustain sales for very long. Fluff, puffy and deceitful language only leads to disaster!
    Rules Don't Stop
    Rules Don't Stop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  2. Provide quality products and superior service to your clients. Clients talk about you whether you like it or not! Give them something good to say. Better yet, ask them to say good things about you.
  3. If you are marketing in search (who isn't) you need to give Google what it wants. Google now controls over 81% of all search traffic. If you’re not in Google Search your missing most of the game. Google feels that people want quality, truthful and accurate content about your product or service. Google feels that people vote by recommending you, by connecting with your internet properties (liking, following, back-linking etc.) and people vote by sharing your message (whether it’s a blog post, video,  tweet, URL or coupon). Google also assumes that negative votes (poor reviews and bad testimonials) should count against you. Google employs its secret and proprietary algorithms to assess your internet property’s popularity which results in your Google keyword ranking. Google also likes you to provide a wide variety of useful content. A good way to start is to provide lots of multimedia posts. Provide lots of quality videos, podcasts, blog posts, pictures, articles and social posts to begin with. On top of this, the posts have to be seen and shared by lots of people. This means you have to develop a strong social network with a substantial number of followers. Otherwise, your information will not get viewed, read, played, commented on or shared. Having good quality content is a start, getting play is the goal. Having content that is being used, commented on and shared gets you recognized and improves ranking. Remember quality content is in the eyes of the beholder and the only eyes that matter are what the consumer wants.
  4. The last piece to the puzzle is consistency. You have to provide content on a regular (i.e. weekly) basis. Some mediums even require daily content. You also have to consistently invite people to follow you so that your social networks grow.
  5.  Following these general rules will get you half way to your goal. The last 50 percent requires testing, measuring and adapting to market conditions. “Being found” is only half the battle. Providing a compelling message that closes the deal is the second part of the equation. This part has to be discovered through diligent testing and measuring. Leave this part out and you're only guessing.
In this article, I provided a timeline that explains where internet marketing started and where it is today. I have discussed how these changes have affected and changed consumer-shopping habits.  More importantly, I have shown how it has empowered consumers to directly affect the value of any product or service being advertised online. Lastly, I discuss how technology has freed consumers from the shackles of media scheduling, minimal choices, and the ability to compare a product or service for value, price, connivance and good customer service. 

If you like this article, you can find more by typing “Internet” or "advertisng" in the search box at the top left of this blog. If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, families and co-works. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the comment sections below.  If you would like a free copy of our book, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," fill out the form below.

That's my opinion; I look forward toward reading yours.

Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”


  1. If you don't think the world has been changed by the advent of the Internet you must be living in a cave. I routinely read reviews before purchasing with any business with which I am unfamiliar. Why take chances?

  2. Great observations. In addition to the sheer magic of "reach" I'd add "speed". Think how "speed" has changed our lives. We don't wait an hour for a baked potato anymore--we microwave it in 4 minutes. ATM's have taken the phrase "I have to get to the bank before it closes" out of our vocabulary. We don't walk across the room for the Yellow Pages (sorry to all Yellow Pages reps), we already Googled it. And in the realm of marketing, the sooner you can at least acknowlege and THANK a potential client for contacting you--it can put you ahead of the competition before price is even mentioned. Thanks for the article Hector!

  3. The Golden Rule of Internet marketing is to give Google what it wants!

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