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    How The First Banner Ad Produced A Taste Of The Future

    The rapid evolution of online technologies and the nature of the internet as a huge beacon of communication means that there are some fascinating moments in online marketing when it was seen as the future and not as the reality of the present.

    This makes it fascinating to look back at one of the most important banner adverts of all time, fittingly enough used as part of a campaign about looking at the future of the world itself.

    In 1993, American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) launched the You Will campaign, a fascinating piece of late 20th-century futurism fronted by actor Tom Selleck that asked people to imagine a world that in the 2020s seems awfully familiar.

    The astonishing prescience of the adverts, which included concepts such as smartwatches, telemedicine, video on demand, online GPS systems, electronic toll booths and a lot of other systems taken for granted today, has become a topic of discussion.

    However, whilst AT&T was predicting the future, they also shaped it on 27th October 1994, when Wired Magazine’s online offshoot HotWired showed an advert asking if a user had ever clicked on the words “You Will” in big chunky text.

    It immediately captured the zeitgeist, and it would not take long for the rest of the internet to catch on as well, creating the first online advertising boom in the process.

    The intent of the You Will banner, however, was remarkably benign, simply continuing the futurism theme of AT&T’s existing campaign, one that would continue for many years and later be revived in 2018 as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations.

    There is one fundamental caveat to these predictions, however; the future AT&T predicted was not one they brought about directly, instead relying on a huge number of startups and young tech geniuses who were not even around before the adverts were aired.

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