The difficulty of measuring content performance
John Wanamaker (1838 – 1922), an American merchant and marketing pioneer, is famously quoted as saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”. In those days a marketer relied on advertisements in newspapers and on billboards and it was difficult to measure their effectiveness until techniques for gathering measurable data on them were developed. The most famous work on the subject was published in 1922 by Claude Hopkins called “Scientific Advertising” in which he described how he was able to measure the effectiveness of his marketing campaigns. Hopkins was placing coupons in newspapers that readers were encouraged to cut out and send in the mail to take up an offer.
He was then able to count the number of responses he got and he could test different advertisements to see which ones worked best. By a continual process of testing and measuring campaigns in one city or state until he was sure he had an advertisement that was effective he could be reasonably sure that it would work just as well across the entire country. This type of campaign is known as “direct response” marketing and pay per click campaigns in Google Adwords and Bing Ads use the same principles today because it works so successfully.
In fact, Claude Hopkins’ approach was so successful that David Ogilvy, one of the founders of the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, said, “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.”
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