Can you EVEN imagine living 10,000 years ago? MUCH has been said about the controversy of WHEN we started to write, draw, plant seeds, and become an agricultural-based society. So, I propose we "skip" these steps and simply talk about the history of signs, banners and advertising, no matter when, it occurred.
Let's suppose, for example, that the Paleolithic Age started about 18,000 years ago. Many cave drawings point to this time as the START of our text--based communication.
This site is not intended to dwell on "when" it all started, but instead, focuses on "why" it started.
Imagine this: (no matter what year it is.) Your buddy "Puc" (I thought it would be a nice-sounding "cave-man" name,) learned from his wife that he could rub a piece of burnt stick against a stone wall and leave a mark. Puc's wife, Loo-loo, found this out because she was sooooo mad at Puc, she started swinging the stick at him and quickly realized that it left a mark. Puc quickly hugged her, had sex, and shared the story with you as you were eating toasted rat-legs over the campfire.
Well, you thought about it for a minute. You'd JUST invented the rake, and decided you wanted to share your accomplishment with the rest of your tribe. You thought about it for a minute, and decided that by using Loo-loo's method of rubbing burnt sticks against the cave-wall, you'd have a chance of sending the message to all the other members of your "cave-clan" the message. AND, if anyone of them were interested, you'd simply suggest that you'd show them HOW to use a rake to plant their seeds, in exchange for food or sex, or whatever else was a commodity back in the cave-man day.
So you tried it. And it worked. You got 3 members of your clan responding to your "AD" on the wall. You decided to show them the secret in exchange for taking their 3 month supply of nuts and a few other favors:). But wait, one of the respondents told you that if you'd placed your cave-message on the outer rim of the cave, you may have had better luck in response to your burnt stick ad.
So now you had your first A/B split test. "If I put a cave message on the outer wall, AND the inner wall, I might be able to get more nuts" (and other favors.).
So you did.
But, "I need a way to track the outer versus inner wall message, so I have to figure out a way to track this." HUMMMMM.
"I KNOW," I'll give them a message to tell them which it was. "If you're wanting my inner wall marking, tell me and I'll throw-in a free lesson." AND "If you saw my outer wall marking, I'll give you a free rock." So you tried this, and you quickly realized that it worked.
So now you had two vehicles for advertising, and you were the new Chief of the tribe.
After setting up a small business with a production staff, accounting department, and human resources department (good cavemen and women are hard to find,) you soon realized that advertising was the shit!) So like any other "Ted Turner" type caveman, you soon started focusing on getting your burnt-stick markings posted everywhere possible. But being shrewd, you tracked each effort, and kept a burnt-stick scroll (on sheep-skin) which efforts paid off, and which didn't do anything for you.
So fast forward 30 years, and YOU are the first Bill Gates of the period. You had a great rake, and, more importantly, you understood advertising using the most simple signs and banners of the day.
Good for you!