Today read an interesting article at AdAge which reminds us of the lineage of the medium which we love so much. On 27th Oct, Digital Advertising completed its 15th so-called birthday and surely it marks a monumental moment for all of us who are attached to it – directly or indirectly.

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According to the article, Oct. 27 marks the 15th anniversary of the industry’s first banner display ads, which appeared on Hotwired.com (the first commercial digital magazine on the web and the offshoot of Wired magazine).

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Digging deep, I tried to find out if around that time, any other ads were displayed or not. To my surprise, there was I guess, but surely Hotwired.com should get the credit to start the revolution of sorts. So, according to this article, AT&T launched their future-predicting ad with “you will” campaign from 1994 (Source:10jahreonlinewerbung that collects old banners and celebrates the tenth anniversary).

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AT&T's YOU WILL first online ad campaign from 1994

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Some info about the ad:

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For the record: the “Have you ever clicked your mouse right HERE?” ad was created for Modem Media/AT&T by TANGENT Design/Communications of Westport, CT.

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Principal Creators:
Copy Writer: Joe McCambley, Creative Director, Modem Media
Graphic Design: Craig Kanarick, Associate, TANGENT Design (pre-razorfish)
Executive Producer & Art Director: Otto Timmons, VP, TANGENT Design
Contributors: Brent Hood, CEO, TANGENT Design
Research Intern, Tangent Design (I will have to track his name down)
The Client, AT&T (a great guy and ditto on tracking the name down)

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Although we had the most popular ad on Hotwired (according to Brian and Matt…) there were at least five or six other banner ads that launched at the same time and they too should get credit for being “first”. I can remember Club Med, AT&T, ZIMA. Last but not least, O’Reilly’s Global Network Navigator, GNN, started accepting paid advertising at the same time (one banner ad on the home page, as I recall).

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Actually, forget about the “who came first” debate. It doesn’t matter since what matters most is that they paved the glorious path of now standing multi-billion dollar business which employs millions of people and act as economic growth drivers.

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BTW, if history interests you, then this nugget won’t do much harm I guess (I took it from one of the comments in the AdAge article):

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•HotWired launched with 14 sponsors. In addition to the six already mentioned I recall seven other campaigns but am forgetting one.

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•Here’s a list of those I recall: IBM (from Ogilvy/NY), Metricom (client direct), Xircom (Chiat/SF), Internet Shopping Network (client direct), Sprint (JWT/SF), AT&T (client direct and separate from the Modem AT&T campaign which also went live 10/27/94), JBL speakers (client direct I believe).

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•I think Sharon Katz placed IBM, Tara Lemme placed Xircom, Bill Rollinson placed ISN and Thom Campbell placed Sprint. And, of course, Steven Comfort placed the 4 MVBMS campaigns and GM O’Connell himself called me on the phone to order banners for Modem clients Zima and AT&T.

•On the sales side, Doug Weaver, Mitchell Kreuch and Bill Peck did a lot of the heavy lifting and were key to HotWired selling out of all ad inventory at launch.

•The first contract was signed on 4/15/1994 by the AT&T client direct. I can’t recall his name now but I believe this was sold by Jane Metcalfe who co-founded WIRED with Louis Rossetto. Two AT&T campaigns ran on HotWired at launch.

•HotWired’s banners were 476×60 at launch but were modified to 468×60 in late 1996 when the IAB published banner standards.

In the last 15 years, I think we have come quite far yet much remains unexplored and unearthed in this every growing complexity!

Simply Amazing. What do you think?