Advertising's Basic Purpose



"The only purpose of advertising is to make sales...


...It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people."


Scientific Advertising | Claude Hopkins


That was written in 1923. Many advertisers know of Claude Hopkins as the prophet of advertising, preceding Ogilvy by some fifty years and having being referenced by him numerous times in his most famous book "Confessions of an Advertising Man."


In practice, Hopkins' law holds up. There is no reason to advertise unless it can justify itself and generate revenue beyond what it spends. It must be profitable.


Anything that classifies itself as advertising that doesn't share the above purpose is therefore not advertising but sponsored content.


If an advertising strategy or program is not generating revenue, scrap it. Alter it, make it fit the purpose - make it make money.


Apple, Coke, Microsoft, Amazon... these brands make ads that some rookie advertisers think are just there to keep their name in front of the audience. But in reality, they are calculated. They won't run the same ad twice if there isn't traceable revenue generated by it that outweighs the investment in the ad itself.


Since the digital age began to dominate advertising, the field became muddled. "Techniques" and "strategies" were developed that had nothing to do with the core of what advertising is. These techniques and strategies were simply different ways to push different buttons on the ad placement platform's interface. Advertising has to do with the audience, the copy, and how you communicate with them. How do you move them? How do you get them to take action? What do you say? That is advertising. The art plays a role, the design is important. But the message and communication are superior in importance.


Advertising is creative, it takes a mind, it requires thought. There is no guesswork involved. It is very calculated and exact. Once there is an answer to "What do we say to Move the audience and how should we say it?" there isn't much else left to do besides ensuring it gets on the right channel in front of the right people.