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How Advertising Is a Living, Evolving Entity (and How to Grab Hold of It) Take a journey through the dynamic history of advertising and discover how it has evolved into a living entity. Understanding the continual growth of advertising is crucial for entrepreneurs looking to thrive in a rapidly changing landscape.

By Andres Tovar Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

At first glance, the idea of advertising as a living thing can seem strange or even nonsensical. But the history of advertising shows us that it is indeed a living, evolving entity.

Advertisements in the 1800s were primarily published in newspapers, city directories and other print publications. And those ads are a far cry from the personalized marketing many consumers receive via email or social media today.

But comparing today's ads to those of over one hundred years ago is just one way of recognizing how advertising is a living and ever-evolving discipline. By understanding advertising's continual growth (both now and in the future), you'll be better positioned to grab hold of it yourself.

Related: This Is the Future of Digital Ads. Is Your Marketing Strategy Ready?

Advertising's evolution has accelerated in recent years

Technology has played a dramatic role in advertising's evolution over the past several years. This can perhaps best be seen in how far personalized marketing has come. In the 1990s, personalization was a rarity, aside from placing ads in media that appealed to a particular target audience. Nowadays, ads often don't just target audiences — they focus on individuals.

For example, it's been reported that Facebook uses 98 personal data points to target relevant ads to its billions of users. Amazon Personalize uses machine learning to provide curated product recommendations to shoppers based on past purchases, their location and other contextual data.

This comes at a time when customers are also increasingly expecting brands to better understand their individual needs — with 52% saying they expect offers to always be personalized.

As advertising has changed, so too have consumer expectations. Individualized advertising has become the norm and can serve as a powerful differentiating factor that helps a brand stand out from its competitors.

New opportunities and new challenges remain

While technological advancements have made great contributions to the evolution of advertising, this doesn't mean that entrepreneurs aren't going to face marketing challenges.

For example, while Google Search has dominated much of the conversation around digital advertising for the last decade, its parent company Alphabet has recently reported declining revenue in Google Search, leading to layoffs from one of the largest brands in the world. At the same time, the company reported an additional focus on AI, particularly in integrating it with Google Cloud and Google Services.

If one of the biggest platform holders in the industry is making these types of changes, you can be sure that it will lead to additional changes to the digital marketing landscape. At the same time, the mixed levels of controversy and enthusiasm for AI highlight how consumers may have equally mixed reactions to its increased use in future marketing endeavors.

Regardless of the specifics of how the current AI boom plays out, it is clear that such advances are poised to change how marketing materials are created and how they reach and appeal to customers.

And AI is just one of the factors that can continue to push the evolution of advertising. New social media platforms like TikTok have created new ways for marketers to communicate with specific audiences. When trying to make use of new channels, brands must put in the work to create meaningful and authentic messaging that makes sense for the platform.

Related: Why Artificial Intelligence is Revolutionizing Marketing

Successful entrepreneurs don't wait on the sidelines

While advertising has proven to be an ever-changing entity, one fact remains: It is essential for successful businesses. As Henry Ford said, "Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time."

While many brands will cut their advertising budget during times of economic trouble, or wait to spend money on advertising until they have strengthened their position in the market, this is generally the opposite recipe for success.

For example, during the Great Recession of 2008, McDonald's actually gained market share and increased sales while its competitors struggled — and these results were largely attributed to the fact that it remained committed to its designated ad spend, even as other brands like Burger King and Pizza Hut pulled back from advertising.

The same can be true of businesses in any other niche, regardless of how long you've been in operation or who you are trying to reach. Successful entrepreneurs are willing to jump in head-first to advertise their brand and its products or services to the people who could most benefit from it.

Successful entrepreneurs take the time to focus their message on the unique pain points of their target audience. It's why they look at multiple channels for reaching audience members — and especially pay close attention to up-and-coming platforms. Successful marketing requires work, but the end result is growth that likely wouldn't be possible otherwise.

Build your future with advertising

The marketers designing print ads for newspapers in the 1800s probably would never have imagined the type of advertising we're capable of producing today. But that also means that many of us are unlikely to fully conceptualize the continued changes and innovations that will hit the industry in the future. As entrepreneurs, what we must never do is get lazy, because ignoring innovation in advertising is virtually the same as not advertising, and as Dr. Marietta Poshi, Marketing Professor at Warner University, says, "Advertising is the most vital part of connecting a brand with consumers. Regardless of how good a product is, if its value is not properly communicated, the purpose of the product (or service) is defeated."

By making it a priority to understand industry trends, you will be better equipped to grab hold of practices that appeal to your target audience and help you grow, both now and in the years to come.

Related: Invest in These 5 Technologies to Redefine Your Marketing Efforts

Andres Tovar

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Co-Founder of Noetic Marketer | Growth Consultant | Speaker

Andres Tovar is the co-founder and managing partner of Noetic Marketer, a digital marketing agency specializing in the higher education, ecommerce and professional services industries. He is a growth consultant and fractional CMO for companies small and big.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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