What is advertising?
It is hard to find a satisfactory definition of advertising.
A picturesque way of putting it is to call it business imagination, an imagination that sees in a product possibilities which can be realized only by appealing to the public in new ways to create a desire where none existed before. It is a very broad word, an omnibus word conveying different ideas to different people.
No advertising definition is here possible except as this entire article may be accepted as a definition. So rapidly has advertising advanced through its various changes that even the latest dictionaries and encyclopedias are out of date in their attempts to define it. The advertising of yesterday is not the advertising of today. Men not so very old have witnessed its entire development from an untrustworthy instrument of quacks to its place as an engine in the conduct and expansion of business.
Advertising in the dictionary sense has a history as old as that of the human race. Just as soon as there were enough people in the world, some sort of formal announcement had to be made. The early history of such announcements – from proclamations to the beginning of pictorial and lettered inscriptions, from these primitive posters to the discovery of printing, and from the advent of printing to the beginning of real advertising – is of interest only to the archaeologist. It is of no value to the business entrepreneur. It would be of no assistance to understanding modern advertising than ancient Phoenicians coins would be to comprehending the principles of a modern bank.
Every attempt to secure the sale of a product or service is advertising. The wares of the primitive merchant displayed invitingly in front of his booth is advertising. A want ad, to secure a job or an employee, is advertising. An inscription on a wall, the barker in front of a side show, the promises of an internet marketer, the announcement of a new online technology, membership in an affiliate program, wearing a peculiar shirt or distinctive sticker in your car – all these are forms of advertising in that they seek to attract attention to a product or a service that is for sale. For a product or a service of general use, rich and poor, high and low, men, women and even children, must be appealed to.
At least one principle we know of, stays constant, not eroding with the passing of time or the use and or abuse of men, not concerned with the weather outside, nor considering your personal health status, or taking into account your surrounding circumstances, and that is that you have to keep doing it, it has to be fed, no way around it, it keeps asking for every ounce of your commitment if you expect any kind of visible returns.
Whatever the appropriate definition of advertisement is, one thing is to conclude, it is because it has been. And every succeeding year since the beginning of the human entrepreneurship it has left its precious deposit of new ideas, better methods, larger and swifter efficiency, and the promise of an even greater growth.