Advertising Pioneer: Claude C. Hopkins


Though my own contributions to the digital advertising revolution thus far are small, I feel that my generation helped usher in accountability and transparency in advertising. Because clicks could be measured, they were measured. Data has been a vital tool in helping advertisers understand the value of their digital advertising dollars. It seemed that before the advent of analytics and tracking systems that people advertised in a vacuum.

Why marketers should care about data should be obvious. If you can prove to a client that $1.00 spent on advertising yields $5.00 in consumer spending, you’ve got a great case to spend all of the money in the world, until you reach the point of diminishing returns. It seemed that before the advent of analytics and tracking systems that people advertised in a vacuum. Aggregate sales growth was a good way to measure the success of advertising, but it often wasn’t enough to prove what worked, where it worked and why it worked.

Well, that’s not entirely true and over 100 years ago, Claude C. Hopkins made waves in the world of tracking traditional ads. There’s a reason he made $185k/yr., 100 years ago. ($34M in today’s money).

While data plays a part in my choices, it is only a part of the picture. As I’ve learned over the past 14 years, through many digital marketing successes is that data while telling, is sterile. While we can judge the end result of our work, at a level of granularity that was previously unavailable, we can’t as easily judge sentiment. I recall roundtable discussions from over a decade ago about how our digital achievements would take over Madison Avenue. I recall conversations where famous digital marketers figured that the huff and fluff of traditional would soon be dead.

Well, if we’ve learned anything. Data alone isn’t enough to create a great advertising campaign. In fact, I challenge you to name half a dozen digital campaigns that stand out. The truth is that great results still require thinking beyond the binary.

Claude C. Hopkins realized early on that the future of advertising was at the convergence of data and thinking. Not only was he a good ad copy man, he was a forward thinker.

I salute you Mr. Claude C. Hopkins. Thanks for thinking ahead.




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