1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Advertisement
|←Adventure||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 1
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ADVERTISEMENT, or Advertising (Fr. avertissement, warning, or notice), the process of obtaining and particularly of purchasing publicity. The business of advertising is of very recent origin if it be regarded as a serious adjunct to other phases of commercial activity. In some rudimentary form the seller's appeal to the buyer must, however, have accompanied the earliest development of trade. Under conditions of primitive barter, communities were so small that every producer was in immediate personal contact with every consumer. As the primeval man's wolfish antipathy to the stranger of another pack gradually diminished, and as intercourse spread the infection of larger desires, the trapper could no longer satisfy his more complicated wants by the mere exchange of his pelts for his lowland neighbour's corn and oil. A began to accept from B the commodity which he could in turn deliver to C, while C in exchange for B's product gave to A what D had produced and bartered to C. The mere statement of such a transaction sufficiently presents its clumsiness, and the use of primitive forms of coin soon simplified the original process of bare barter. It is reasonable to suppose that as soon as the introduction of currency marked the abandonment of direct relations between purchaser and consumer an informal system of advertisement in turn rose to meet the need of publicity. At first the offer of the producer must have been brought to the trader's attention, and the trader's offer to the notice of the consumer, by casual personal contact, supplemented by local rumour. The gradual growth of markets and their development into periodical fairs, to which merchants from distant places resorted, afforded, until printing was invented, the only means of extended advertisement. In England, during the 3rd century, Stourbridge Fair attracted traders from abroad as well as from all parts of England, and it may be conjectured that the crying of wares before the booths on the banks of the Stour was the first form of advertisement which had any marked effect upon English commerce. As the fairs of the middle ages, with the tedious and hazardous journeys they involved, gradually gave place to a more convenient system of trade, the 15th century brought the invention of printing, and led the Way to the modern development of advertising. The Americans, to whom the elaboration of newspaper advertising is primarily due, had but just founded the first English-speaking community in the western hemisphere when the first newspaper was published in England. But although the first periodical publication containing news appeared in the month of May 1622, the first newspaper advertisement does not seem to have been published until April 1647. It formed a part of No. 13 of Perfect Occurrences of Every Daie journall in Parliament, and other Moderate Intelligence, and it read as follows:—
A Book applauded by the Clergy of England, called The Divine Right of church Government, Collected by sundry eminent Ministers in the Citie of London; Corrected and augmented in many places, with a briefe Reply to certain Queries against the Ministery of England; Is printed and published for Joseph Hunscot and George Calvert, and are to be sold at the Stationers' Hall, and at the Golden Fleece in the Old Change. Among the Mercuries, as the weekly newspapers of the day were called, was the Mercurius Elencticus, and in its 45th number, published on the 4th of October 1648, there appeared the following advertisement:— The Reader is desired to peruse a Sermon, Entituled A Looking-Glasse for Levellers, Preached at St. Peters, Paules Wharf, on Sunday, Sept. 24th 1648, by Paul Knell, Mr. of Arts. Another Tract called A Reflex upon our Reformers, with a prayer for the Parliament. In an issue of the Mercurius Politicus, published by Marchmont Nedham, who is described as "perhaps both the ablest and the readiest man that had yet tried his hand at a newspaper," there appeared in January 1652 an advertisement, which has often been erroneously cited as the first among newspaper advertisements. It read as follows:— Irenodia Gratulatoria, a heroic poem, being a congratulatory panegyrick for my Lord General's return, summing up his successes in an exquisite manner. To be sold by John Holden, in the New Exchange, London, Printed by Thomas Newcourt, 1652. The article "On the Advertising System," published in the Edinburgh Review for February 1843, contains the fullest account of early English advertising that has ever been given, and it has been very freely drawn upon by all writers who have since discussed the subject. But it describes this advertisement in the Mercurius Politicus as "the very first," and the discovery of the two earlier instances above quoted was due to the researches of a contributor to Notes and Queries.
In The Crosby Records, the commonplace-books of William Blundell, there is an interesting comment, dated 1659, on the lack of advertising facilities at that period—
It would be very expedient if each parish or village might have some place, as the church or smithy, wherein to publish (by papers posted up) the wants either of the buyer or the seller, as such a field to be let, such a servant, or such a service, to be had, &c. There was a book published in London weekly about the year 1657 which was called (as I remember) The Publick Advice. At gave information in very many of these particulars. A year later the same diarist says—There is an office near the Old Exchange in London called the office of Publick Advice. From thence both printed and private information of this useful nature are always to be had. But what they print is no more than a leaf or less in a diurnal. I was in this office. The diurnal consisted of sixteen pages quarto in 1689. In No. 62 of the London Gazette, published in June 1666, the first advertisement supplement was announced—An Advertisement—Being daily prest to the Publication of Books, Medicines, and other things not properly the business of a Paper of Intelligence, This is to notifie, once for all, that we will not charge the Gazette with Advertisements, unless they be matter of State: but that a Paper of Advertisements will be forthwith printed apart, & recommended to the Publick by another hand. In No. 94 of the same journal, published in October 1666, there appeared a suggestion that sufferers from the Great Fire should avail themselves of this means of publicity—Such as have settled in new habitations since the late Fire, and desire for the convenience of their correspondence to publish the place of their present abode, or to give notice of Goods lost or found may repair to the corner House in Bloomsbury on the East Side of the Great Square, before the House of the Right Honourable the Lord Treasurer, where there is care taken for the Receipt and Publication of such Advertisements.
The earlier advertisements, with the exception of formal notices, seem to have been concerned exclusively with either books or quack remedies. The first trade advertisement, which does not fall within either of these categories, was curiously enough the first advertisement of a new commodity, tea. The following advertisement appeared in the Mercurius Politicus, No. 435, for September 1658—
That excellent and by all Physitians approved China Drink, called by the Chineans Tcha, by other nations Tay, alias Tee, is sold at the Sultaness Head, a cophee-house in Sweetings Rents, by the Royal Exchange, London.
The history of slavery, of privateering and of many other curious incidents and episodes of English history during the 17th and 18th centuries might be traced by examination of the antiquated advertisements which writers upon such subjects have already collected. In order that space may be found for some consideration of the practical aspects of modern advertising, the discussion of its gradual development must be curtailed. Nor is it necessary to preface this consideration by any laboured statement of the importance which advertising has assumed. It is a matter of common knowledge that several business houses are to be found in Great Britain, and a larger number in the United States, who spend not less than L. 50,000 a year in advertising, while one patent medicine company, operating both in England and the United States, has probably spent not less than L. 200,000 in Great Britain in one year, and an English cocoa manufacturer is supposed to have spent L. 150,000 in Great Britain. Some of the best works of artists as distinguished as Sir John Millais, Sir H. von Herkomer and Mr Stacy Marks have been scattered broadcast by advertisers. The purchase of Sir John Millais' picture "Bubbles" for L. 2200 by the proprietors of a well-known brand of soap is probably the most remarkable instance of the expenditure in this direction which an advertiser may find profitable. There are in London alone more than 350 advertising agents, of whom upwards of a hundred are known as men in a considerable way of business. The statements which from time to time find currency in the newspapers with regard to the total amount of money annually spent upon advertising in Great Britain and in the United States are necessarily no better than conjectures, but no detailed statistics are required in order to demonstrate what every reader can plainly see for himself, that advertising has definitely assumed its position as a serious field of commercial enterprise.
Advertising, as practised at the beginning of the 20th century, may be divided into three general classes:—
1. Advertising in periodical publications.
2. Advertising by posters, signboards (other than those placed upon premises where the advertised business is conducted), transparencies and similar devices.
3. Circulars, sent in quantities to specific classes of persons to whom the advertiser specially desired to address himself.
It may be noted at the outset that advertising in periodical publications exercises a reflex influence upon these publications. The dally, weekly and monthly publications of the day are accustomed to look to advertisements for so large a part of their revenue that the purchaser of a periodical publication receives much greater value for his money than he could reasonably expect from the publisher if the aggregate advertising receipts did not constitute a perpetual subsidy to the publisher. It is not to be supposed, however, that the receipts from the sale of a paper cover all its expenses and that the advertising revenue is all clear profit. The average newspaper reader would be amazed if he knew at how great a cost the day's news is laid before him. A dignified journal displays no inclination to cry from the housetops the vastness of its expenditure, but from time to time an accident enables the public to obtain information in this connexion. The evidence taken by a recent Copyright Commission disclosed that the expenditure of the leading English journal upon foreign news alone amounted to more than L. 50,000 in the course of one year, and that a year not characterized by any great war to swell the ordinary volume of cable despatches.
In the case of daily papers sold at the minimum price, it is not less obvious that the costliness of news service renders advertising revenue indispensable, for although these less important journals spend less money, the price at which they are supplied to the news agents is very small in proportion to the cost of their production. If, however, this thought be pursued to its logical conclusion, the advertiser must admit that he in turn receives, from those among newspaper readers who purchase his wares, prices sufficiently high to cover the cost of his advertising. So that the reader is in the curious position of directly paying a certain price for his newspaper, receiving a newspaper fairly worth more than that price, while this price is supplemented by the indirect incidence of a sort of tax upon many of the commodities he consumes. On the other hand, a great part of the advertisements in a daily newspaper have themselves an interest and utility not less than that possessed by the news. The man who desires to hire a house turns to the classified lists which the newspaper publishes day after day, and servants and employers find one another by the same means. The theatrical announcements are so much a part of the news that even if a journal were not paid for their insertion they could not be altogether omitted without inconvenience to the reader. In the main, however, it is the advertiser who seeks the reader, not the reader who seeks the advertiser, and the care with which advertisements are prepared, and the certainty with which the success or failure of a trader may be traced to his skill or want of skill as an advertiser, show that the proper use of advertising is one of the most indispensable branches of commercial training.
Before discussing in detail the methods of advertising in periodical publications it may be well to complete, for the usePoster and sign advertisements. of the general reader, a brief survey of the whole subject by examining the two other classes of advertisement. The most enthusiastic partisan of advertising will admit that posters and similar devices are very generally regarded by the public as sources of annoyance. A bold headline or a conspicuous illustration in a newspaper advertisement may for a moment force itself upon the reader's attention. In the French, and in some English newspapers, where an advertisement is often given the form of an item of news, the reader is distressed by the constant fear of being hoodwinked. He begins to read an account of a street accident, and finds at the end of the paragraph a puff of a panacea for bruises. The best English and American journals have refused to lend themselves to this sort of trickery, and in no one of the best journals printed in the English language will
there be found an advertisement which is not so plainly differentiated from news matter that the reader may avoid it if he sees fit to do so. On the whole, then, newspaper advertisements ask, but do not compel attention. The whole theory of poster advertising is, on the other hand, one of tyranny. The advertiser who pays for space upon a hoarding or wall, although he may encourage a form of art, deliberately violates the wayfarer's mind. A trade-mark or a catch-word presents itself when eye and thought are occupied with other subjects. Those who object to this class of advertisement assert, with some show of reason, that an advertisement has no more right to assault the eye in this fashion than to storm the ear by an inordinate din; and a man who came up behind another man in the street, placed his mouth close to the other's ear, and bawled a recommendation of some brand of soap or tobacco, would be regarded as an intolerable disturber of public peace and comfort. Yet if the owner of a house sees fit to paint advertisements upon his walls, his exercise of the jealously guarded rights of private property may not lightly be disturbed. For the most part, both law and public opinion content themselves with restraining the worst excesses of the advertiser, leaving many sensitive persons to suffer. The National Society for Checking the Abuses of Public Advertising (known as SCARA), founded in 1803 in London, was organized for purposes which it describes as follows:—
The society aims at protecting the picturesque simplicity of rural and river scenery, and promoting a regard for dignity and propriety of aspect in towns—with especial reference to the abuses of spectacular advertising.
It seeks to procure legislation whereby local representative bodies would be enabled to exercise control, by means of by-laws framed with a view to enabling them, at any rate, to grant relief in cases of flagrant and acknowledged abuse.
It is believed that, when regulation is applied in cases where local conditions are peculiarly favourable, the advantage will be so apparent that, by force of imitation and competition, the enforcement of a reasonable standard will gradually become common. The degree of restraint will, of course, depend upon the varying requirements of different places and positions. No hard-and-fast rule is suggested; no particular class of advertisement is proscribed; certainly no general prohibition of posters on temporary hoardings is contemplated. Within the metropolitan area sky signs have already been prohibited, and it is hoped that some corresponding check will be placed on the multiplication of the field boards which so materially diminish the pleasure or comfort of railway journeys.
The society regards with favour the imposition of a moderate tax or duty for imperial or local purposes on exposed advertisements not coming within certain categories of obviously necessary notices. The difficulty of inducing a chancellor of the exchequer to move in a matter where revenue is not the primary consideration is not overlooked. But it is thought that an impost would materially reduce the volume of exposed advertisements, and would at once extinguish the most offensive and the most annoying class, i.e. the quack advertisements by the road sides and the bills stuck by unauthorized persons on trees, walls and palings.
Members are recommended to make it known that there exists an active repugnance to the present practice of advertising disfigurement, by giving preference, in private transactions, to makers and dealers who do not employ objectionable methods, and by avoiding, as far as possible, the purchase of wares which, in their individual opinion, are offensively puffed. Action on these lines is advised rather for its educational than for its immediately deterrent effect; although, in the case of many of the more expensive commodities, makers would undoubtedly be much influenced by the knowledge that they would lose, rather than gain, custom.
The foregoing proposals are based on the following estimate of the conditions of the problem. It is believed that the present licence causes discomfort or loss of enjoyment to many, and that, in the absence of authoritative restriction, it must grow far beyond its present limits; that beauty or propriety of aspect in town and country forms as real a part of the national wealth as any material product, and that to save these from impairment is a national interest; that the recent developments of vexatiously obtrusive advertising have not grown out of any necessities of honourable business, but are partly the result of a mere instinct of imitation, and partly are a morbid phase of competition by which both the consumers and the trade as a whole lose; that restriction as regards the size and positions of advertising notices would not be a hardship to those who want publicity—since all competitors would be treated alike, each would have the same relative prominence; that, as large sums of public money are expended on institutions intended to develop the finer taste, and on edifices of elaborate design, it must be held inconsistent with established public policy to permit the sensibilities thus imparted to be wounded, and architectural effect to be destroyed at the discretion of a limited class. The influence of this society is to be seen in many of the restrictions which have been imposed upon advertisers since its work began. About a year after its foundation the London County Council abolished (under statutory powers obtained from Parliament) advertisements coming within the definition of sky-signs in the London Building Act of 1894. These specifications are as follows—
"Sky sign", means any word, letter, model, sign, device, or representation in the nature of an advertisement, announcement, or direction supported on or attached to any post, pole, standard, framework, or other support, wholly or in part upon, over, or above any building or structure, which, or any part of which, sky sign shall be visible against the sky from any point in any street or public way, and includes all and every part of any such post, pole, standard, framework, or other support. The expression "sky sign" shall also include any balloon, parachute, or similar device employed wholly or in part for the purposes of any advertisements or announcement on, over, or above any building, structure, or erection of any kind, or on or over any street or public way.
The act proceeds to exclude from its restrictions flagstaffs, weathercocks and any solid signs not rising more than 3 feet above the roof.
Another by-law of the London County Council, in great measure due to the observations made at coroners' inquests, protects the public against the annoyances and the perils to traffic occasioned by flashlight and searchlight advertisements. This by-law reads as follows:—
No person shall exhibit any flashlight so as to be visible from any street and to cause danger to the traffic therein, nor shall any owner or occupier of premises permit or suffer any flashlight to be so exhibited on such premises.
The expression "flashlight" means and includes any light used for the purpose of illuminating, lighting, or exhibiting any word, letter, model, sign, device, or representation in the nature of an advertisement, announcement, or direction which alters suddenly either in intensity, colour, or direction.
No person shall exhibit any searchlight so as to be visible from any street, and to cause danger to the traffic therein, nor shall any owner or occupier of premises permit or suffer any searchlight to be so exhibited on such premises.
The expression "searchlight" means and includes any light exceeding 500-candle power, whether in one lamp or lantern, or in a series of lamps or lanterns used together and projected as one concentrated light, and which alters either in intensity, colour, or direction.
Advertising vans were so troublesome in London as to be prohibited in 1853; the "sandwich-man" has in the City of London and many towns been ousted from the pavement to the gutter, from the more crowded to the less crowded streets, and as the traffic problem in the great centres of population becomes more urgent, he will probably be altogether suppressed.
Hoardings are now so restricted by the London Building Acts that new hoardings cannot, except under special conditions, be erected exceeding 12 feet in height, and no existing hoardings can be increased in height so as to exceed that limit. The huge signs which some advertisers, both in England and the United States, have placed in such positions as to mar the landscape, have so far aroused public antagonism that there is reason to hope that this form of nuisance will not increase.
In 1899 Edinburgh obtained effective powers of control over all sorts of advertising in public places, and this achievement has been followed by no little agitation in favour of a Parliamentary enactment which should once for all do away with the defacing of the landscape in any part of the United Kingdom.
In 1907 an act was passed (Advertisements Regulation Act) of a permissive character purely, under which a local authority is enabled to make by-laws, subject to the confirmation of the Home Secretary, regulating (1) the erection of hoardings, &c., exceeding 12 feet in height, and (2) the exhibition of advertisements which might affect the "amenities" of a public place or landscape.
The English law with regard to posters has undergone very little change. The Metropolitan Police Act 1839 (2 and 3 Vict. cap. 47) first put a stop to unauthorized posting, and the Indecent Advertisements Act of 1889 (sec. 3) penalized the public exposure of any picture or printed or written matter of an indecent or obscene nature. But in general practice there is hardly any limitation to the size or character of poster advertisements, other than good taste and public opinion. On the other hand, public opinion is a somewhat vague entity, and there have been cases in which a conflict has arisen as to what public opinion really was, when its legally authorized exponent was in a position to insist on its own arbitrary definition. Such an instance occurred some few years ago in the case of a large poster issued by a well-known London music-hall. The Progressive majority on the London County Council, led by Mr (afterwards Sir) J. M`Dougall, a well-known "purity" advocate, took exception to this poster, which represented a female gymnast in "tights" posed in what was doubtless intended for an alluring and attractive attitude; and, in spite of any argument, the fact remained that the decision as to renewing the licence of this music-hall rested solely with the Council. In showing that it would have no hesitation in provoking even a charge of meddling prudery, the Council probably gave a salutary warning to people who were inclined to sail rather too near the wind. But in Great Britain and America, at all events (though a doubt may perhaps exist as to some Continental countries), the advertiser and the artist are restrained, not only by their own sense of propriety, but by fear of offending the sense of propriety in their customers.
Posters and placards in railway stations and upon public vehicles still embarrass the traveller who desires to find the name of a station or the destination of a vehicle. In respect of all these abuses it is a regrettable fact that unpopularity cannot be expected to deter the advertiser. If a name has once been fixed in the memory, it remains there long after the method of its impression has been forgotten, and the purpose of advertisements of the class under discussion is really no more than the fixing of a trade name in the mind. The average man or woman who goes into a shop to buy soap is more or less affected by a vague sense of antagonism towards the seller. There is a rudimentary feeling that even the most ordinary transaction of purchase brings into contact two minds actuated by diametrically opposed interests. The purchaser, who is not asking for a soap he has used before, has some hazy suspicion that the shopkeeper will try to sell, not the article best worth the price, but the article which leaves the largest margin of profit; and the purchaser imagines that he in some measure secures himself against a bad bargain when he exercises his authority by asking for some specific brand or make of the commodity he seeks. If he has seen any one soap so persistently advertised that his memory retains its name, he will ask for it, not because he has any reason to believe it to be better or cheaper than others, but simply because he baffles the shopkeeper, and assumes an authoritative attitude by exerting his own freedom of choice. This curious and obscure principle of action probably lies at the root of all poster advertising, for the poster does not set forth an argument as does the newspaper advertisement. It hardly attempts to reason with the reader, but merely impresses a name upon his memory. It is possible, by lavish advertising, to go so far in this direction that the trade-mark of a certain manufacturer becomes synonymous with the name of a commodity, so that when the consumer thinks of soap or asks for soap, his concept inevitably couples the maker's name with the word "soap" itself. In order that the poster may leave any impression upon his mind, it must of course first attract his attention. The assistance which the advertiser receives from the artist in this connexion is discussed in the article POSTER.
The fact that the verb "to circularize" was first used in 1848; sufficiently indicates the very recent origin of the practice of plyingAdvertisement by circular. possible purchasers with printed letters and pamphlets. The penny postage was not established in England until 1840; the halfpenny post for circulars was not introduced until 1855. In the United States a uniform rate of postage at two cents was not established until 1883. In both countries cheap postage and cheap printing have so greatly encouraged the use of circulars that the sort of people whom the advertiser desires to reach—those who have the most money to spend, and whose addresses, published in directories, indicate their prosperous condition—are overwhelmed by tradesmen's price-lists, appeals from charitable institutions, and other suggestions for the spending of money. The addressing of envelopes and enclosing of circulars is now a recognized industry in many large towns both in Great Britain and in the United States. It seems, however, to be the opinion of expert advertisers that what is called "general circularizing" is unprofitable, and that circulars should only be sent to persons who have peculiar reason to be interested by their specific subject-matter. It may be noted, as an instance of the assiduity with which specialized circularizing is pursued, that the announcement of a birth, marriage or death in the newspapers serves to calf forth a grotesque variety of circulars supposed to be adapted to the omentary needs of the recipient.
In concluding this review of methods of advertising, other than advertisements in periodical publications, we may add that the most extraordinary attempt at advertisement which is known to exist is to be found at the churchyard at Godalming, Surrey, where the following epitaph was placed upon a tombstone:—
To the memory of
Nathaniel Godbold Esq.
Inventor & Proprietor
of that excellent medicine
The Vegetable Balsam
For the Cure of Consumptions & Asthmas.
He departed this Life
The 17th. day of Decr. 1799
Aged 69 years.
Hic Cineres, ubique Fama.
The preparation of advertisements for the periodical press has within the last twenty years or so become so important a task that a great number of writers and artists—many of the latter possessing considerable abilities—gain a livelihood from this pursuit. The ingenuity displayed in modern newspaper advertising is unquestionably due to American initiative. The English newspaper advertisement of twenty years ago consisted for the most part of the mere reiteration of a name. An advertiser who took a column's space supplied enough matter to fill an inch, and ingenuously repeated his statement throughout the column. Such departures from this childlike method as were made were for the most part eccentric to the point of incoherence. It may, however, be said in defence of English advertisers, that newspaper publishers for a long time sternly discountenanced any attempt to render advertisements attractive. So long as an advertiser was rigidly confined to the ordinary single-column measure, and so long as he was forbidden to use anything but the smallest sort of type, there was very little opportunity for him to attract the reader's attention. The newspaper publisher must always remember that the public buy a newspaper for the sake of the news, not for the sake of the advertisements, and that if the advertisements are relegated to a position and a scope, in respect of display, so inferior that they may be overlooked, the advertiser cannot afford to bear his share of the cost of publication. Of late The Times, followed by almost all newspapers in the United Kingdom, has given the advertiser as great a degree of liberty as he really needs, and many experienced advertisers in America incline to the belief that the larger licence accorded to American advertisers defeats its own ends. The truth would seem to be that the advertiser will always demand, and may fairly expect, the right to make his space as fantastic in appearance as that allotted to the editor. When some American editors see fit to print a headline in letters as large as a man's hand, and to begin half-a-dozen different articles on the first page of a newspaper, continuing one on page 2, another on page 4, and another on page 6, to the bewilderment of the reader, it can hardly be expected that the American advertiser should submit to any very strict code of decorum. The subject of the relation between a newspaper proprietor and his advertisers cannot be dismissed without reference to the notable independence of advertisers' influence, which English and American newspaper proprietors authorize their editors to display. Whenever an insurance company or a bank goes wrong, the cry is raised that all the editors in Christendom had known for years that the directors were imbeciles and rogues, but had conspired to keep mute for the sake of an occasional advertisement. When the British public persisted, not long ago, in paying premium prices for the shares of over-capitalized companies, the crash had no sooner come than the newspapers were accused of having puffed promotions for the sake of the money received for publishing prospectuses. As a matter of fact, in the case of the best dailies in England and America, the editor does not stand at all in awe of the advertiser, and time after time the Money Article has truthlessly attacked a promotion of which the prospectus appeared in the very same issue. It is indeed to the interest of the advertiser, as well as to the interest of the reader, that this independence should be preserved, for the worth of any journal as an advertising medium depends upon its possessing a bona fide circulation among persons who believe it to be a serious and honestly conducted newspaper. All advertisers know that the minor weeklies, which contain nothing but trade puffs, and are scattered broadcast among people who pay nothing for their copies, are absolutely worthless from the advertiser's point of view. The most striking difference between the periodical press of Great Britain and that of America is, that in the former country the magazines and reviews play but a secondary role, while in the United States the three or four monthlies possessing the largest circulation are of the very first importance as advertising mediums. One reason for this is that the advertisements in an American magazine are printed on as good paper, and printed with as great care, as any other part of the contents. There are probably very few among American magazine readers who do not habitually look through the advertising pages, with the certainty that they will be entertained by the beauty of the advertiser's illustrations and the quaint curtness of his phrases. Another reason is that the American monthly magazine goes to all parts of the United States, while, owing to the time required for long journeys on even the swiftest trains, no American daily paper can have so general a circulation as The Times in the United Kingdom. In comparison with points on the Pacific coast, Chicago does not seem far from New York, yet, with the exception of one frenzied and altogether unsuccessful attempt, no New York daily has ever attempted to force a circulation in Chicago. The American advertiser would, therefore, have to spend money on a great number of daily papers in order to reach as widespread a public as one successful magazine offers him.
There is reason to believe that the English magazine publishers have erred gravely in taking what are known in the trade as "insets," consisting of separate cards or sheets printed at the advertiser's cost, and accepted by the publisher at a specific charge for every thousand copies. This system of insetting has the grave inconvenience that the advertiser finds himself compelled to print as many insets as the publisher asserts that he can use. The publisher, on the other hand, is somewhat at the mercy of too enthusiastic agents and employes, who estimate over-confidently the edition of the periodical which will probably be printed for a certain month, and advertisers have had reason to fear that many of their insets were wasted. The added weight and bulk of the insets cause inconvenience and expense to the newsdealer, as two or three insets printed upon cardboard are equivalent to at least sixteen additional pages. Some newsdealers have further complicated the inset question by threatening to remove insets unless special tribute be paid to them; and with all these difficulties to be considered, many magazine publishers have seriously considered the advisability of altogether discontinuing the practice of taking insets, and of confining their advertisements to the sheets they themselves print. In connexion with this subject, it may be added that many readers habitually shake loose hills out of a magazine before they begin to turn the pages, and that railway stations, railway carriages and even public streets are thus littered with trampled and muddy advertisements. The old practice of distributing handbills in the streets is dying a natural death, more or less hastened by local by-laws, and when the loose bills in magazines and cheap novels have ceased to exist no one will be the loser. Advertisements in the weekly press are on the whole more successful in England than in America. A few American weeklies cope successfully with the increasing competition of the huge Sunday editions of American daily papers. But even the most successful among them—a paper for boys—has hardly attained the prosperity of some among its English contemporaries in the field of weekly journalism.
The merchant who turns to these pages for practical suggestions concerning the advertising of his own business, can be given no better advice than to betake himself to an established advertising agent of good repute, and be guided by his counsels. The chief part that he can himself play with advantage is to note from day to day whether the agent is obtaining advantageous positions for his announcements. Every advertiser will naturally prefer a right-hand page to a left-hand page, and the right side of the page to the left side of the page; while the advertiser who most indefatigably urges his claims upon the agent will, in the long run, obtain the largest share of the favours to be distributed. To the merchant who inclines to consider advertising in connexion with the broader aspects of his calling, it may be suggested that a new channel of trade demands very serious attention. What is called in England "postal trade," and in America "mail order business," is growing very rapidly. Small dealers in both countries have complained very bitterly of the competition they suffer from the general dealers and from stores made up of departments which, under one roof, offer to the consumer every imaginable sort of merchandise. This general trading, which, on the one hand, seriously threatens the small trader, and on the other hand offers greater possibilities of profit to the proportionately small number of persons who can undertake business on so large a scale, becomes infinitely more formidable when the general dealer endeavours not only to attract the trade of a town, but to make his place of business a centre from which he distributes by post his goods to remote parts of the country. In America, where the weight of parcels carried by post is limited to 4 lb., and where the private carrying companies are forced to charge a very much higher rate for carriage from New York to California than for shorter distances, the centralization of trade is necessarily limited; but it is no secret that, at the present moment, persons residing in those parts of the United Kingdom most remote from London habitually avail themselves of the English parcel post, which carries packages up to 11 lb. in order to procure a great part of their household supplies direct from general dealers in London. A trading company, which conducts its operations upon such a scale as this, can afford to spend an almost unlimited sum in advertising throughout the United Kingdom, and even the trader who offers only one specific class of merchandise is beginning to recognize the possibility of appealing to the whole country.
The following is a brief summary of the laws and regulationsLegal regulation. dealing with advertisements in public places in certain of the countries of Continental Europe and in the United States of America, the chief authority for which is an official return issued by the British Home Office in 1903.
France.—The permission of the owner is alone required for the placing of advertisements on private buildings; but buildings, walls, &c., belonging to the government or local authorities are reserved exclusively for official notices, &c.; these alone can be printed on white paper, all others must be on coloured paper. Municipal authorities control the size, construction, &c., of hoardings used for advertising purposes, and the police have full powers over the exhibition of indecent or other objectionable advertisements. The Societe pour la protection des paysages, founded in 1901, has for one of its objects the prevention of advertisements which disfigure the scenery or are otherwise objectionable.
Germany.—By sec. 43 of the Imperial Commercial Ordinance permission to post any trade advertisement in a public street, square, &c., must be first obtained from the local police. The police also control (by sec. 55 of the Imperial Press Law 1874) advertisements which are not of a trade character, but this regulation does not affect the right of the federal legislatures to make regulations in regard to them (sec. 30). It would be impossible to give in any detail the police regulations as to advertisements which exist, e.g. in Prussia, but the following rules in force in Berlin may be given:—Public advertisements in public streets and places may be posted only on the appliances, such as pillar posts, &c., provided for the purpose. Owners of property may post advertisements on their own property but only such as concern their own interests. Advertisements on public conveyances are forbidden. In 1902 a Prussian law was passed authorizing the police to forbid all advertisement hoardings, &c., which would disfigure particularly beautiful landscapes in rural districts. The Hesse-Darmstadt Act of 1902 prohibits the placing of any advertisements, posters, &c., on a monument officially protected under the act, if it would be likely to injure the appearance of the monument. As instances of the numerous local provisions against the abuse of advertising may be cited provisions against the abuse of advertising may be cited those of Augsburg and Lubeck, by Which any advertisement that would injure the Stadtbild or appearance of the town may be prohibited and removed by the local authority (see G. Baldwin Brown, The Care of Ancient Monuments, 1905). Full powers exist under the Imperial Criminal Code for the suppression of indecent or objectionable advertisements.
Austria.—Permission of the police is required for the exhibition of printed notices in public places other than such as are of purely local or industrial interest, such as notices of entertainment, leases, sales, &c., or theatre programmes, and these can only be shown in places approved by the local authorities (Press Law 1862). The press-police act as advertisement censors and determine whether an advertisement can be allowed or not. In Hungary there are no general laws or regulations, but the municipalities have power to issue ordinances dealing with the question.
Italy.—All control rests with the municipal and communal authorities, who may decide on the places where advertisements may or may not be posted, and can prevent hoardings being placed on or near ancient monuments or public buildings.
Switzerland.—The Federal Government has no authority to deal with this question; certain of the cantons have regulations, e.g. Lucerne prohibits the public advertising of inferior goods by means of a false description, Basel-Stadt gives the police the power of censoring all advertisements. Many of the communal authorities throughout Switzerland have special restrictions and regulations. In Zurich the police choose the advertising stations, in Berne the municipality possesses a monopoly of the right of erecting advertisements. The Society known as the Ligue pour la conservation de la Suisse pittoresque or Schweitzerischer Heimatschutz has for one of its objects the preservation of scenery from disfiguring advertisements.
United States.—There is no federal legislation on the subject, the matter being one for regulation by the states, which in most cases have left it to the various municipalities and other local authorities. With regard to indecent and objectionable advertisements some states have special legislation on the matter, others are content with the ordinary criminal laws or police powers or with the law of nuisance or of trespass. Thus control can be exercised over such advertisements as are dangerous to public safety, health or morals. The state of New York prohibits advertisements of lotteries. It would be impossible to give in detail the different laws and regulations passed in the various states or by municipalities. The following are some of the more striking measures adopted in certain of the states. In Massachusetts no advertising signs or devices are allowed on the public highways. Power has been granted to city and town authorities to regulate advertisements in, near or visible from public parks. In the District of Columbia no advertisement is allowed which obstructs a highway, and all distribution of handbills, circulars, &c., in public streets, parks, &c., is prohibited. This prohibition against what are generally known as "dodgers" is very general in the local regulations throughout the states. In Illinois, city councils are empowered on the incorporation of the city to regulate and prevent the use of streets, sidewalks and public grounds for signs, handbills and advertisements, &c., and also the exhibition of banners, placards, in the streets or sidewalks. Chicago has a body of most stringent rules, but they apparently have been found impossible to enforce; thus no advertisement board more than 12 ft. square within 400 ft. of a public park or boulevard, no advertisements other than small ones relating to the business carried on in the premises where the advertisement is posted, or of sales, &c., are allowed in streets where three-quarters of the houses are "residences" only. Prohibition is also extended to the advertisements of those professing to cure diseases or giving notice of the sale of medicines. In Boston there are regulations prohibiting projecting or overhanging signs in the streets, and special rules as to the height at which street signs and advertisements must be placed. The distribution of "dodgers" in the streets is prohibited. Advertisements for places of amusement must be approved by the committee on licences.
France, Belgium, Italy and certain of the cantons in Switzerland impose a tax on advertisements, as do certain of the United States of AmericaTaxation., where the form is usually that of a licence duty on billposters or advertising agencies. In many cases in the United States this is imposed by the municipalities. In every case both in Europe and America advertisements in newspapers are not subject to any tax.
With regard to the literature of advertising, in addition to the historical article in the Edinburgh Review for February 1843, already mentioned, and that in the Quarterly Review for June 1855, the Society for Checking the Abuses of Public Advertising issue a journal, A Beautiful World. The Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation (N.S. xvi. 1906) contains an article by W.J.B. Byles on Foreign Law and the Control of Advertisements in Public Places. The advertisers' handbooks, issued by the leading advertising agents, will also be found to contain practical information of great use to the advertiser.