Advertising is not a mass medium, but it relies on media to carry its messages. Johannes Gutenberg’s movable type, which permitted mass production of the printed word, made mass-produced advertising possible. First came flyers, then advertisements as newspapers and magazines were introduced. These were followed by television, and ultimately, the Internet. In the 1800s, when technology created high-speed presses that could produce enough copies for larger audiences, advertisers used these media to expand markets. With the introduction of radio, advertisers learned how to use electronic communication. This primed the market to accept digital advertising via the Internet.
The genius of Benjamin Day’s The New York Sun, the first penny newspaper in 1833, was that it recognized and exploited so many changes spawned by the Industrial Revolution. Steam-powered presses made large press runs possible. Factories drew great numbers of people to jobs in cities that were geographically small areas, making it relatively easy to blanket quickly with daily newspapers. The jobs also drew immigrants who were eager to learn—from newspapers as well as other sources— about their adopted country.
Industrialization, coupled with the labor union movement, created unprecedented wealth by providing laborers with a share of the new prosperity. Though primitive by today’s standards, a consumer economy was emerging, and the advertising industry responded with a growing focus on ads that matched consumers’ increasing demands for a broad range of goods and services.
National advertising took root in the 1840s as another creation of the Industrial Revolution emerged: Railroads. The railroads comprised new networks for mass distribution of manufactured goods. National brands developed, and their producers looked to magazines delivered by rail to promote sales. By 1869, the rail network linked the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
The Industrial Revolution ushered in an era that broadened the focus of the advertising industry to include a wider range of goods and services, including several national brands. A new trend in shopping that expanded beyond Sears-Roebuck and Montgomery Ward mail-order catalogs included department stores in large cities, such as Macys in New York and Marshall Fields in Chicago, that depended on advertising agencies to get the word out about their products and services.
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