By Joe Pulizzi published July 1, 2016

The History of Content Marketing [Updated Infographic]

history-content-marketingIf you want some insights into where the content marketing industry may be headed, it might just help to take a look at where it’s been.

As we pointed out when CMI shared its History of Content Marketing infographic in 2012, brands have been telling their stories to audiences for hundreds of years. Not to mention that storytelling itself is one of the oldest forms of communication.

While we used to consider John Deere’s The Furrow to be the oldest example of content marketing, Robert Rose and I have unearthed several more examples on our weekly This Old Marketing podcast:

1732 – Benjamin Franklin first publishes the yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack. The goal is to promote his printing business.

1801 – Bookstore Librairie Galignani employs creative content strategies to grow its business, including opening a reading room and printing a newspaper that featured articles from influential authors and books.

1861 – Samuel Wagner launches American Bee Journal, a magazine that is still being published.

1867 – Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company debuts The Locomotive, which is now said to be the oldest company magazine continuously published under the same name in the United States.

1882 – The Edison Electric Lighting Company Bulletin spreads the word about the benefits of electric lighting.

1887 – Charles Scribner’s Sons publishes Scribner’s Magazine, which provides a look inside the lives of its most famous authors. It competes with Harper’s Monthly and Atlantic Monthly, but its goal was to generate sales of Scribner’s books.

1888 – Johnson & Johnson launches a publication called Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment that is aimed at the needs of doctors to whom the company sold bandages. The company also launches two publications to share helpful articles with the medical community.

But despite the age of the technique, the power it wields hasn’t diminished at all. In fact, examples of brands using content marketing – and the impact of those efforts – have increased exponentially over the years. That’s why we thought it would be a good time to update our infographic to include some of the most significant achievements that have happened over the past few years.


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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • Saji

    That’s a very interesting and simplified read on content marketing, well designed.

  • Scott Aughtmon

    Hi Joe! Thanks for including my two examples to the list.

    A 213 Year Old Business Reveals Two Content Marketing Secrets of Today’s Publishing Empires

    4 Illuminating Lessons From One of History’s Most Inventive Content Marketers

    Appreciate it. Take care, man!

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Great stuff Scott. Keep it coming!

  • NenadSenic

    Joe, I’m trying to find out when the first print mag on content marketing was published. I know Kontekst – a mag on content marketing – was first published in 2006, so 10 years ago. Does anyone know of any older print mags in the world dedicated solely to content marketing?

    • Joe Pulizzi

      I’m not sure when Content Council launched their magazine…I’m thinking 2001-2003 perhaps. We did a mini-magazine on it for B2B when I was with Penton called B2B Marketing Trends. That was in 2004. But I’d have to think there were earlier examples.

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  • George Stenitzer

    Very cool post, Joe! It’s fun to learn from the great examples of our forefathers in content marketing. Have a happy Fourth!

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    • Joe Pulizzi

      Same to you George!

  • Hitesh Parekh

    Great infographic and I am stunned that the concept was around late in the Victorian era. Still, a nice discovery. The platform may change but the concept remains I believe.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Hitesh!

  • Joe Pulizzi

    Wonderful example Steve. Thanks for sharing.

  • Omotayo Odejimi

    This is great! I am presently writing a dissertation on The influence of Content marketing on Customer engagement. I now have the opportunity to review the Literature Review on Content Marketing. Thank you Joe and Robert for your efforts, God bless!

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Wonderful news. Thanks for sharing.

  • John Buzz

    very interesting post to read history of content marketing. What’s simportant is to understand the ideas and events that define history.

  • Martin Bittner

    Great post. Thank You!

    I do not understand:
    2001 – J&J buys BabyCenter from eToys.
    Why is this important in history of content marketing?

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Sure Martin. Two reasons. First, BabyCenter is a content marketing platform that J&J still uses today. But second, it was one of the first examples of a brand purchasing a platform instead of home-growing it…a trend we are seeing pick up at the present time. Thanks for the comment.

  • Rosie Tesmenitskaya

    Solid Information you have here.Though I personally think that the Stamina of
    an infographic is it can be Create into a series of infographics. You’ll
    be able to grasp neighboring Subjects to add contents to your Site then you make an infographic.

  • Super Hero

    Thanks for the post. Content marketing is now evolving in the world of SEO as one of the powerful strategy any strategist can implement. You can do anything great with the unique and timely content. This can be one of those reasons that can make your website stand out among the rest. With perfectly matched content to the queries, nothing is impossible in keeping your website to the best and top search results.