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Ask any young digi-marketer – particularly those who have only been in the workforce post the great dot con – ‘how old is PPC advertising’ and they’ll inevitably say about 10 years. Some may guess at 15 years, or say ‘as old as Google’.

The fact is, PPC advertising is at least 80 years of age, possibly older.

birthday cake

PPC advertising was started by direct marketers before WWII. It was called Pay Per Coupon advertising where the advertiser paid the media owner a commission based on the number of coupons received from ads that ran in that publisher’s print publications.

Then came an amazing new service that transmitted voice over data lines (known commonly as the telephone) and Pay Per Call emerged where media owners were paid commissions on the number of calls received from an advertisement. This grew with the penetration of televisions and phones in homes.

Now in the new century we have Pay Per Click, the latest evolution of PPC, where the media owner is paid when people click on ads on websites. The major difference is the faster speed of measurement and the depth of associated data.

Even the landing page tests of Pay Per Click ads are just versions of the original split-run tests conducted in traditional print and mail media.

Many young marketers don’t study history. They assume that because something is new to them, it is new to the world. It’s an easy trap to fall into – our tertiary marketing education is quite out of touch. The first thing we do when we employ university graduates is give them remedial education to bring them up to date and make them useful.

Young marketers are making expensive mistakes as they learn new technology. Yet if they took time to understand the ways of marketing and what has always worked in all media, their results would improve and their careers progress faster.

That’s assuming of course they are interested in results and careers?!