The advertising business shaped the relationship between producers and consumers. Starting with newspapers, advertising financed media in the U.S., ensuring that it all became commercialized. Advertisers defined the benefits of consumption for Americans, linking products to personal improvement, convenience, and national progress. Admen and a few adwomen developed selling expertise that manufacturers and retailers came to rely on and that made consumption a central part of American life.

Early Years, 1750s–1850s

Establishing the Business, 1870s–1920s

An Industry and Cultural Force, 1920s–1930s

Madison Avenue, 1940s–1960s

From Mass to Targeted Markets, 1970s–2000s