What Technologies Have Impacted Marketing?

One of the lesson topics for my content marketing course at West Virginia University is technology’s role in marketing. Technology and innovation had impacted and shaped modern marketing landscape. After TV was invented and people started watching TV programs, TV commercials and advertising was created and injected into the programs. When people started to surf on the Internet to communicate, banner ads were invented and created. With so much information on the Internet, search was created to help people find information. Of course, that came with search marketing (organic ranking and paid key-word buys). How we market is determined by where people go. How people behave also drives how we market. I asked my students what technologies have impacted marketing in the past thirty years. Here are some interesting responses:

Tina Fulkerson (Creative Advisor, Marketing Communications, the Aerospace Corporation)

technology innovation marketing

Desktop Publishing Software and Undo

Once a very, very long time ago, designers would use tracing paper and exacto knives to create beautiful designs on drafting tables. While this did big things for the band-aid business and spawned the phrase, “don’t bleed on the art!” it didn’t really make for a speedy process. Designers relied upon extensive forethought and preplanning – for example, photos had to be sized and cropped by hand — to make a single ad. Then, in 1985, the Aldus company released their flagship PageMaker software (now known as Adobe InDesign) and everything in the design world changed (Opticentre, n/d). While that early program barely resembles its modern-day analogue, it came with the magical feature that computer users everywhere now take for granted – undo. Undo and desktop publishing software in general opened up design to everyone, not just those patient and finger-callused enough to tolerate the tedious work of cutting and pasting type by hand. What was once laborious work could now be changed in an instant. In doing so, it’s opened up the world of design to anyone with an idea. Not that everyone is an expert, but it no longer requires years of art school to make a flyer, or a brochure, or even a website that doesn’t suck. The ability to create great ideas, and to reformulate them on the fly, is in fact the basic premise for how content marketing works today.

Steve Geibel (Vice President of Marketing, Mountain Organix) 

technology innovation marketing

Video gaming

In 2013, the video gaming industry had sales revenues that were roughly twice that of the worldwide movie industry ($35.9 billion vs. $70.4 billion) and players are averaging 16 hours per week in screen time, so it only stands to reason that marketers would want their share of all those eyeballs and all that leisure time (New Zoo, 2013).  In game marketing allows advertisers the ability to pay to have their name and/or product featured in video games.  It’s very similar to product placement that we all know from movies and TV, except that in-game marketing allows for a more subtle message that actually becomes a feature of the game rather than a distraction from it.  Also, because games have become so immersive, “the full effect of the ad registers on the viewer” because they are so invested in the game (Marketing Schools, n.d.). If being featured in a popular video game isn’t quite enough for you, there is always advergaming.  Advergaming was developed in the 1980’s as a way to leverage the interest given to game mechanics in order to keep a brand in front of impressionable little minds for hours (Geibel, 2015).  Advergames are literally video games designed around a brand or a brand’s mascot, the acknowledged first of which is the now legendary “Kool Aid Man” game (Geibel, 2015). So as you can see, in-game marketing and advergaming are prime examples of marketing following the people.

Amy Layne (Integrated Marketing Professional)

technology innovation marketing

Bar code scanners

Yes, they have been around since the 50’s but originally were used to track inventory.  Now, they are used to track EVERYTHING.  From your delivery packages to your medical history and literally everything in between.  One of the biggest impact for marketers is barcodes and customer loyalty programs.  Customer loyalty program provide several advantages for businesses and marketers. One big one – they provide vital market research: According to Troy Ireland, CEO of the SEO agency Digital Current: Understanding the purchasing behavior of a specific demographic is one of the most important sets of research data available to marketers. To develop a strategic plan to present your products in a way that produces the most optimal buying behavior, one needs to understand what the target audience avoids as much as what triggers them to spend their money. (Marketing Land, 2014) Another advantage of bar codes and loyalty cards, it gives the customer a sense of award and savings and a reason to come back.  But the key here is knowing your customer’s habit and needs.  Hence the vitality of market research.  I shop at Kroger and use their loyalty card.  The good thing about that card is that it the customer gets immediate gratification in knowing they saved money.  The second good thing about the card is that Kroger knows my shopping habits and often sends coupons for the things I purchase most.

Genifer Snipes (Business librarian at West Virginia University)

technology innovation marketing

Digital Cameras

I think digital photography is important to the development of marketing because it has fueled most of the content on those social media platforms mentioned in this week’s lesson and made photography accessible to people who otherwise couldn’t have afforded to take a million bad pictures of that particular marmot in Yellowstone in order to get one epic shot to post on Flickr. I didn’t realize that the first consumer digital camera was released the same year as Mosaic (1994)  but it makes sense that the Internet and digital imagery would grow together (W3C, n.d.; Fried, 2002) since both technologies allowed people to create  and interact with information more readily than could be done in an analog world. Digital photography makes off-the-cuff visual campaigns easier to create, makes images more readily reusable, and drives virtually all high-engagement social campaigns (Bradley, 2014).

Image Manipulation Software

Despite the complaints about fueling a false reality, I think Photoshop and other digital image manipulation programs are some of the most amazing innovations out there. The idea that I can fix red-eye, make skin look better (and trust me, I have family members I would never get pictures of without swearing I can fix problems after taking them), change lighting, and create amazing art all in the same program is fantastic! Image manipulation software has made fantastic imagery more accessible to a wider array of marketers. It has also sped up the special effects process. Rather than using chemical treatments and overlays in a dark room or massive location shoots to create unique images, we are able to combine images and add on to the final image, which makes creative visuals more accessible to marketers without big budgets for creation. Below is the summary of my students’ picks on technologies and innovations, which have impacted marketing in the past thirty years!

What are your picks?

Technology or Innovation Mentioned by number of students
Broadcast Media/TV 2
Cloud 2
Big Data/Business Intelligence 2
Visualization Tool 2
Wearables 3
Barcode 1
Geo marketing or GPS 3
Digital Videos/Digital Cameras 3
Video Gaming/Adgaming 2
Graphic Design/Desktop Publishing 3
3D Printing 1
Mobile 2
Social Media 1
E-commerce 1
Eye Tracking Software 1
Marketing Automation 1
Website Content Management 1

References: Opticentre. (n/d). History of Desktop Publishing. Retrieved Sep 16, 2015, from Opticentre:https://www.opticentre.net/FAQ/Desktop-publishing-(DTP)/History-of-Desktop-publishing/ Bradley, S. (2014, April 11). Visual Marketing: What’s Out There and How it Benefits Business Owners. Retrieved from HERE Fried, R. (2002, June 4). Digital Photography: An In Depth Analysis of an Emerging Trend within the Computer Age. Retrieved from HERE Jones, D. (2015, July 13). Inclusion Online: Which Marketing Campaigns are Disability Friendly?. Retrieved from HERE. Marrs, M. (2015, April 7). 14 Marketing Skills to Add to Your Resume in 2015. Retrieved from HERE. W3C. (n.d.) A Little History of the World Wide Web. Retrieved from HERE

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