Advertising: What’s Changed & What’s Stayed the Same

By Daniel Hearn, Executive VP & COO

March 17, 2017

After more than 30 years in the advertising business, I’d like to claim that I’ve seen and heard it all, but I know that’s not the case. Seemingly, every day, I am surprised by new ideas brought forth by the S&B Team. Or I pick up the phone to hear a client asking for help on something unexpected. Truth be told, I don’t think that aspect of our business will ever change—there’s always going to be the next great idea or another request, perhaps stranger than the last.

In looking back at my career, here are a few changes that stand out in my mind:

We don’t call it the “advertising” business anymore.

Darrin Stephens was in advertising. (Bewitched, for those of you who have no clue who I’m talking about). As was Don Draper (Mad Men is a modern enough reference, right?). Today, I work in “marketing communications.” Admittedly, “advertising” seems much too narrow for what we do these days. Things like building websites, creating social media content strategies, and making and airing live video content, just to name a few. Regardless of what our business is called, we’re doing the same thing—selling products, thoughts, and ideas.

Success metrics are vast and helpful.

In the days when I first started in the industry, it was all about impressions. How many impressions would we get from a billboard? What about a TV commercial? Today, impressions are one of perhaps a thousand things that can be measured and looked at when quantifying the success of a tactic or campaign. More than just that, the explosion of measurement opportunities and tactics has given us wherewithal to dig down into the nitty gritty, learning more about our target audiences, their interests, locations, etc. —all of this insight helping us create more effective “marketing communications” programs for our clients.

The ways in which we capture eyeballs and ears seem endless.

Long gone are the days of print or TV commercial campaigns only. Back in the day, we used to have a conference room at S&B that was decorated with the logos of major TV networks, one on each wall. It was a square room—and we were short one logo. Today? The walls, floor, and ceiling would be covered in teeny, tiny logos and sitting in that room would be people using multiple devices that a younger me wouldn’t have had the first clue what to do with.

We live in a world where news and information are consumed and generated at the fastest rate in history. It’s an exciting time, but sometimes overwhelming. At S&B we’ve gone from looking at maybe a handful of ways to communicate, to hundreds. And honestly, it seems like it happened overnight.

While there are countless other things that have changed, I’ll leave you with my favorite that hasn’t:

We’re still selling stuff.

To me, that’s the part of advertising—ahem, marketing and communications—that will never change. In the future, our industry’s toolbox is likely to be altogether different once again. But I imagine our job will always be the same: we’ll be helping clients sell stuff.

Does help “selling stuff” sound like just what you need? Send us an email at and we’ll get the conversation started.


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