As vice president and president of George Batten Company, and as an executive with Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, William Johns made significant contributions to both his agencies and the industry. Johns’ incredible partnership with George Batten and his leadership helped the George Batten Company become one of America’s top advertising agencies by 1919. Of Johns, George Batten once said, "the success of our business is in no small measure due to his fidelity, energy and intelligence. I question if ever two men have been so closely associated as we have been for 14 years with never a rub — not a particle." While occupying top positions at both agencies, Johns was responsible for campaigns, slogans, trademarks and general advertising planning that hastened the maturity of advertising as an effective tool of American business.
Johns was one of the founders of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA). He was also its first president from 1917 to 1919 and long time chairman of its advisory committee. During this period, the AAAAs developed its qualifications for membership, the agency service standards of practice for advertising agencies, a standard rate card and a standard order blank for publications. Johns was also a founder of the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and he this helped to establish sound standards for the circulation measurement.
During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Johns as chairman of the Division of Advertising of the Committee on Public Information. In this position, Johns aided in the development of advertising as an instrument of public service. The success with which he united all the forces of advertising contributed heavily to victory.
In 1936 Johns was awarded the Advertising Gold Medal for "distinguished services to advertising." His service was not limited to his company, but included his work for the industry and the country as a whole.