Just Sayin’

How Far We Have Come…

Iʼm astonished to think that Iʼve been working in media for 35 years now. It sort of annoys me because, in an industry that has always been attractive to younger generations, I’m often the oldest person in the room. There’s only one other thing that astonishes me more about this business, and that is where technology has taken us.

When I was a 19-year-old student, my first media job was to manage publicity for the Fresno State baseball team. Among many other responsibilities, I phoned-in voice reports about game results on KMJ radio. It blew me away how quickly the engineers could record and edit while I was on the phone. They worked with skinny little reel-to-reel audio tape and manually spliced it together. Then, they transferred the reel to a cart tape (similar to 8-track technology, for those of you who even know what that is) for the morning sports report given by Bill Woodward or Rich Rodriquez.

Two years later, in 1980, I started working as a news producer at Channel 47 here in Fresno. Photographers were still using 16-millimeter film, just as videotape technology, or “electronic-news-gathering” began to take over as the predominant technology, mostly because it eliminated the difficult and messy job of film processing. When video was first developed the tape itself was two-inches wide in order to capture and record images. The RCA machines that ran the tape were about the size of a large refrigerator. When video moved into field reporting, the cameras were separate from the recorders, so photographers typically carried around 60 to 80 pounds of gear. But, everyone still thought the new technology was so cool.

Here we are, 30 years later, and it’s hard to fully fathom how far the digital world has taken us. There are video cameras the size of and average Nikon that produce 35-millimeter film quality images and don’t require artificial lighting. However, it is in the area of graphic design and animation where digital technology has delivered the most spectacular results. What I see coming from our “design cave” (our production department) never ceases to amaze me. It’s not just the quality and capability of the software and those using it, it’s the speed at which things are produced.

Besides going down techno-memory lane, what’s the point? Here it is:

Advertisers have never gotten more for their money than they are getting today from the production side of the industry. Even if you went back ten years, the financial measurements wouldn’t be close. You can’t make comparisons, because what can be created today was simply not possible then. What now gets accomplished happens 5 to 10 times faster than it used to. It means that advertising, even for very small businesses, is more affordable than it has ever been. Technology, as it has with many industries, has revolutionized the advertising business, with plenty more to come. Stay tuned.

P.S. One of the things I find when I get calls from smaller businesses shopping for agencies for the first time is that there are a lot of false notions about how agencies operate; some have to do with financial terms and conditions, others have to do with the methods and processes. It is largely because these factors can vary widely amongst most agencies. If you are shopping for an agency, keep asking questions and make sure you get answers that make sense to you. Hiring an ad agency should go well beyond a few clever ideas. Look beyond the pitch. Your due diligence will be rewarded, and it could save you a lot of money.

– Paul Quebe, Owner of JP Marketing