A Model of Periodization of Radio and Internet Advertising History

  • Lilly Anne Buchwitz School of Media Studies and Information Technology, Humber College, Toronto, Canada


Internet advertising is barely 20 years old. Beginning in the 1960s as a computerized communications network for scientific research, the Internet was opened to commercial use in 1991. Marketers were
slow to adopt its use, however, and the first attempts at Internet advertising were met with fierce resistance from consumers. Then in late 1994 when Wired magazine sold the first banner ad on its website it signaled the emergence of a new mass medium for advertising. The development of advertising on radio followed a similar path, beginning as a communications medium used only by the
technically-inclined, who reviled any attempt to use it for commercial purposes. In the histories of both new media, after a series of similar phases of events, the business model of advertiser-supported content was eventually adopted. This conceptual paper presents a narrative history of radio and
Internet advertising, focusing on the development of forms of advertising on the new medium. It is interpretive historical marketing research, informed by postmodern historiography. As a contribution
to marketing history it proposes an original theoretical model of Periodization of Radio and Internet Advertising History, which organizes the history of radio advertising and the history of Internet advertising into four phases of development: Technology, Content, Advertising, and Advertising Becomes Content. The two histories are compared in terms of the similarity of events, social
sensibilities, and turning points as they move through the phases of development.


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