Adapted based on the essay in
Economic Advertising Magazine
Vol 1., No. 9, May, 1909
ADVERTISING— A GENERAL TALK ON THE SUBJECT
A separate Essay
While Copy is the First Essential in all Judicious Advertising Campaigns the Choice of Media is all
If the best advertising copy frequently appears in the worst media, all the genius and exactness one can put into advertising matter may be absolutely futile as far as selling the goods is concerned. The choice of media is by all odds the most important part of an advertising campaign. Good copy is the fundamental essential, but its significance is worse than commonplace if it is not read.
Industry has been likened to war — active, relentless, and unceasing. The manufacturers and big merchants of the world are the generals in the game. These master spirits have somehow gained a knowledge of the rules governing success.
The manufacturer surveys a certain territory, sometimes a whole country, as a big buyer for his product. He is convinced that it is superior to the product of most of his competitors. He knew exactly how to perfect his product, but he is not very certain of the best possible means of marketing it. If the young manufacturer captures a big market, he must fight huge aggregations of capital with ingenuity. He cannot, as a general rule, place an effective field force on the road right at the outset. He knows, or sincerely believes, that his product is just what the people want, and his problem is to get it into the hands of the people at the minimum expense. If he could only line up the dealers — secure their active co-operation, success would be assured.
This is where the trade paper floats into our consideration as the good angel of distribution, and shrewd men are agreed in believing that it should be all that. The dealers are the outworks which the manufacturer must capture before he proceeds to land the central and important party of all commerce — His Majesty — The Consumer.
The proper trade or class publication is the most effective of all advertising media for the very simple reason that there can be no waste circulation. Space in a trade journal which fulfils its mission is worth a high price. Before placing good copy in any medium the advertising man should know its circulation in round figures. No evasion on this point should be considered for a second of time. The publisher has a certain commodity for sale — that commodity is white space. Its value to the buyer is determined by a journal’s circulation and its class of readers. A trade paper should cover the trade — that is 75% of the trade all the time. An excellently conducted class publication may attain that circulation. It seldom exceeds it. We should know the circulation — actual, all told, paid-up circulation of any trade paper before handing over any business to it. We should know its circulation in the different provinces or states, cities, towns, and townships. The declaration of a trade paper’s circulation should certainly be
an informing document.
And then the wary advertising man will find out exactly what subscribers think of the paper — how much or how little importance the merchants of the country attach to it. All these points decide the value of a trade journal as an advertising medium. Of course the trade paper which fulfils its mission
is the best and cheapest advertising medium in the world.
The daily and weekly newspapers, when carefully selected, are always effective media. Their selling power is potential to say the least. But — they must be carefully selected.
In marketing a product the general advertisers seem to gauge the value of a campaign by results, regardless of the cost. Because there is a direct relationship between cost and results, we desire to emphasize one or two points which are too often overlooked. If a manufacturer can sell a million dollars’ worth of goods at a 15% cost, is there any good solid reason why he should spend 20 or 25% to do that million dollars’ worth of business? No, there is positively no reason why a manufacturer should throw away $50,000 annually. Many continental advertisers do that very thing. We do not need to look far for evidence of this fact. Most of us have noticed a product advertised in big city dailies and also advertised in the dailies or weeklies of towns and villages within an easy radius of the city at the same time.
The advertising man should make it his business to know more than the figures about any medium. He should know the class of a paper’s readers. If a city daily is read by the farmers of a community, it is obviously a waste of money to advertise in their local papers. The urban and rural population
attach more significance to an ad. appearing in the city dailies or weeklies at any rate. This does not say that we should ignore the value of space in country and small city papers. It only means that the advertising man should be careful not to duplicate his copy. The newspapers are the most effective
advertising media we have.
The choice of media is governed by the nature of the campaign. Sometimes a big advertiser will cover the country by provinces or states, and in such cases the work of the advertising man is simplified. Most newspapers give a sworn statement regarding their circulation. But the class of readers is generally more important than the number. As an illustration — it would be poor business policy to advertise automobiles in a workingman’s paper. And it would be as foolish to advertise
stoves, as heating apparatus, in a paper read by the upper middle class. The newspapers are about the easiest advertising mediums to select. Their standing is very readily understood and explained. And, with the exception of small, insignificant publications, the dailies must fulfil their mission or they cannot live.
The selection of weekly periodicals and monthly magazines calls for more careful consideration. The ordinary man can very readily find out the exact value of a trade journal or newspaper to his client, but it isn’t quite so easy to determine the value of a magazine or weekly with extraordinary circulation. Canada is blessed with a few publications of this kind, but, if circulation statements are correct, magazine publishers are certainly philanthropic.
It is different with similar publications in the United States and England. Magazines are potential selling forces, or factors in the selling game. The advertising pages of McClure’s magazine are called ” the market place of the world.” And there’s considerable truth in the same. The price of space in
the popular monthlies and weeklies, on both sides of the Atlantic, is enormous, ranging from $150 per page per insertion, up to $2,000 and more. Apparently no firm, however wealthy, can afford to advertise in the popular monthlies or weeklies without serious consideration. The price is ruinous, and in nearly every case far ahead of proportionate returns. The magazines, which the people buy voluntarily, are by all odds the best advertising media of this class. Where enormous circulation is the result of unusual activity in the circulation department, the price of space is easily 50% too high. The
advertising man must discriminate between good, bad, and indifferent circulation. Munsey’s magazine may be termed good circulation, because there is no mad endeavor on the part of
the publisher to boost the circulation. The people buy it because they want it. They are not cozened or flattered or forced into subscribing for the magazine by the adroit ingenuity of clever canvassers. We could name quite a number of so-called popular magazines, on the other hand, which are not popular
at all. For the simple reason that 50% of their subscribers do not want, and certainly do not read them.
The writer spent three months in the U.S. investigating this matter. He found that over 50% of the people he called on were subscribers to a popular magazine (so-called) which they never read.
It is an easily demonstrated fact that only the least intelligent class of a community are trapped in this way. They are not readers. In the majority of cases they could not buy the articles or products advertised at any rate. To price space in this kind of a magazine on a circulation basis is something
akin to fraud. And yet, there are more than one or two well-known periodicals doing that very thing.
T. J. S., T. Johson Sterward, Editor
The copy of the magazine is available in Archive.org