The first advertisement printed in English appeared in the Imperial Intelligencer in March, 1648. Advertising in magazines was not begun until comparatively recent times. For instance, the first advertisement appeared in Harper's Magazine in 1864. In this magazine more space has been devoted to advertising during the past year than the sum total of space for the
twenty-four years from 1864 to 1887, inclusive.
Indeed, advertising may be said to have
been in its swaddling clothes until about
the year 1887. The most rapid development has taken place during the last
fifteen years. The change has been so
great that the leading advertisers say
that in comparison with to-day there was
in existence fifteen years ago no advertising worthy of the name.
The gain in the quantity of advertising can be seen by observing the increase in the number of pages devoted to advertisements in any of our publications. The month of October is regarded as the typical month, therefore we present the number of pages devoted to advertisements for the month of October in Harper's Magazine for each year from the first appearance of advertisements in that magazine to the present time,—1864, 3 ¼; '65. 2; '66, 3 ; '67, 6; '68, 7 1/3; '69, 5 1/3; '70, 4 ½; '71, 3 ½; '72, 2; '73, 1; '74. 0; '75, 0; '76, 0; '77, 0; '78, 0; '79, 0; '80, 0; '81, 0; '82, 1 ¼; '83, 8 ½; '84, 8; '85, 11 ½; '86, 20; '87, 37; '88, 54; '89, 48: '90, 73; '91 80 ½; '92, 87; '93, 77 ½; '94, 75 ¾; '95, 78 ¼; '96, 73; '97, 80 ¾; '98, 81 ¾; '99, 106 ¾; 1900, 97 ½; '01, 93 ½; '02, 128; '03, 141.
It will be noticed in the data as given above that during the years of special prosperity there was a very great increase in the volume of advertising while
there was but a slight falling off following a financial depression. The increase was not pronounced until about 1887, but from that time on it has been very marked, not only in Harper's, but in almost all of our publications.
There has not only been an increase in the number of advertising pages in the individual publications, but the number of publications has increased enormously of recent years. The increase of population in the United States has been rapid during the last fifty years, but the increase in the total number of copies of the different publications has been many fold greater. Thus the distribution of the copies of these periodicals to each individual was as follows:—
In 1850 each individual received on the average 18 copies from one or more of these periodicals: in 1860, 29; in 1870, 39; in 1880, 41; in 1890, 74; in 1900, 107.
A significant cause of this increase is the reduction in the subscription price which is made possible because of the profit accruing to such publications from their advertisements. The total income secured from subscriptions for all these publications last year was less than the amount paid for the advertising pages. We have this current year about 20,000 periodicals carrying advertisements, each with a constantly increasing number of pages devoted to them, and with a rapidly advancing rate secured for each advertisement. In addition to this, the increase is phenomenal in the use of booklets, posters. painted signs, street-car placards, almanacs, and many other forms of advertising. One firm is supposed to have distributed 25,000,000 almanacs in a single year.