As you may have noticed on the Internet, you most often see advertising everywhere, even places that first said they wouldn’t ever go that route.
The fact is that advertising is the life blood of a business and without it you’d not make enough money to stay afloat. Well… there are exceptions, of course. A restaurant strategically placed inside a castle that a lot of visitors like to come and see each year is going to have a lot of free advertising just by being there. On the Internet, some websites get a lot of hits because they have a very large number of pages or have a very niche type of subject and people interested in that specific niche will search and automatically find your pages. But most businesses are in need of leads and in most cases this means advertising.
How it all Started
In the 70’s and 80’s, when fax machines started to be much more common at all those companies, advertising on faxes became a thing. Not only that, some companies were formed just to send ads on your fax machine. Companies that would send thousands of times the same page to thousands of businesses.
Now business A could buy its own fax machine and hire someone to dial phone numbers and fax the same page over and over again to the list of fax phone numbers. By this time, most businesses would have a dedicated fax line, which made it easy and practical to send faxes directly.
Of course, the means after all those years, the number of ads sent to one fax machine was growing fast and impaired the fax machine normal usage. Not only that, if you receive so many ads, you sure would get someone there to just toss your ad to the trash very quickly.
It’s not just the loss of time and paper, but your fax machine was much more likely to run out of ink as well. Not such a simple matter when you are running a business relying on receiving actual business faxes.
Stopping the Insanity
In the US, the Federal Government had to jump in and enact a new law to prevent non-solicited advertisement on facsimile. That was 1991.
The law probably worked for a little while, but the number of companies offering ads by fax continued to grow. That’s incredible how many people could believe that sending faxes to random people could land them a contract…
The law of 1991, like with Texts on Cell Phones, was to include the sender’s info. First of all, it looks like some people kind of quickly forgot about the law… but also the faxes were sent by these ad agencies and stopping the fax required the advertiser to be pro-active and let the agency know that Mr X didn’t want those faxes anymore. Needless to say, that didn’t happen much. In most cases, the requests to be removed were ignored.
In 1997, the US decided to add another regulation: the sender has to also include their information in the ads. You know, something like “Sent by Company X on behalf of Company Y”. Now you could stop those faxes by contacting Company X directly if Y didn’t comply.
Note that I had a connected fax machine around 2005-2008 and I would still receive one or two ads per month. So even all the laws since 1991 have not really helped stop the flow. It’s just much less because so few people now have a fax machine.
Type of Ads
An interesting fact is that most of the ads sent by fax I’ve heard of have been ads for vacations.
I’ve also seen a few vacations ads on my fax machine and a few other things too but to tell you the truth, I don’t really remember what else we would receive.
One thing that was also send on fax machines is pornography. I don’t think it lasted very long or that it was used much without consent of the recipient. Also there were certainly two problems here: (1) you’d get black and white images 99% of the time (not very many people have had color fax machine) and (2) the quality was deplorable, especially when you could instead get a magazine with high resolution photograph for a similar price.
Note that emails have the same issues. However, pornography in emails has come down a lot. I think there are several reasons: first it probably doesn’t help the advertisers much at all anymore, but also there are places where sending such can lend you up in jail! A fine is one thing, but a businessman tries to avoid jail time, usually. Since you can’t really know where the recipient lives, you just can’t know whether you could end up in jail… (in some countries, it can be much worth).