In a large ad agency coupon returns are watched and recorded on hundreds of different lines. In a single line they are sometimes recorded on thousands of separate ads. Thus we test everything pertaining to advertising. We answer nearly every possible question by multitudinous traced returns.

Source: Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins

In this paragraph I want to know what the writer wants to say. I do not understand the meaning of the line or traced returns. Thank you so much.

2 Answers 2


I suspect “line” is short for “product line” and “traced returns” refers to some sort of tracking of where coupons are used or what they’re used for.

A key point is that stores “return” coupons to the manufacturer to get a rebate or refund for the face value. So, if the store price for an item is $5 and you have a coupon for $1 off, you pay $4 to the store, and the manufacturer pays the other $1 when that coupon is returned, so the store still gets the full $5. The manufacturer may also require the store to provide details about the purchase (who, when, where, what, how many, etc.) as part of that return process, which is what this quote seems to be talking about. In essence, coupons can be a way for manufacturers to buy data on customer demand, not just to increase that demand.


A "line" is a specific product; the traced returns are the recorded returned coupons.

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