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Newspaper advertising: ads by the inch ... success by the fistful.

Newspaper Advertising: Ads By The Inch...Success By The Fistful

When I was just a snotty-nosed young broadcast copywriter cranking out radio and television commercials for banks, bars and baby boutiques, I was of the opinion that the only practical use for the daily newspaper was for wrapping yesterday's garbage, or maybe as a house-breaking aid for little puppy dogs. My, how our opinions change as we mature.

As I've grown older and (hopefully) wiser, and as my experiences in the wonderful world of advertising have broadened my horizons, I've found that newspapers serve several other useful purposes, not the least of which is their ability to effectively and economically convey advertising messages on behalf of local retailers. In fact, newspapers are far and away the most dominant media for all local advertising, with some estimates placing newspaper's share of all local advertising revenues at or near an amount equal to all other media combined. A 1985 study by McCann-Erickson, Inc., one of the world's largest and most respected advertising agencies, figured 1985 newspaper advertising expenditures at $21.8 billion, considerably ahead of number two television at a mere $5.7 billion, and nearly half of the total local advertising expenditure of $44.8 billion. That's pretty heady stuff.

What's the reason for newspaper's overwhelming popularity among retail advertisers? Obviously, it does a hell of a selling job. But, specifically, most newspaper people quote five basic reasons for newspaper's incredible dominance and success: 1) PENETRATION

Newspaper does a better job than

any other media of penetrating a

local market. Most local daily

newspapers reach as much as 60

percent to 70 percent of all the homes

within their metropolitan area, and

a large number of homes in outlying

areas, as well. 2) READERSHIP

Almost 65 percent of all American

consumers claim to read the newspaper

daily. 85 percent say they

read a newspaper sometime during

the week. 3) BELIEVABILITY

Probably because it's so traditional

and so familiar, most people still

consider newspaper the most

trustworthy, helpful and believable

of all local advertising media. With

all the radio and television commercials,

billboards, and direct mail

solicitations bombarding them at a

furious rate, a majority of American

consumers still look first to

their trusty old newspaper for bargains. 4) FLEXIBILITY

Whereas television and radio commercials

offer only a couple of standard

lenghts, newspaper ads are

available in virtually any size or

shape you want -- or can afford.

And, compared to broadcast commercials,

they are generally much

easier and less expensive to create.

Plus, it's usually a snap to make a

last minute change or substitution

almost right up to press time. (Any

newspaper reps who happen to be

reading this will love me for that

statement.) 5) QUICK RESULTS

People tend to respond to newspaper

ads more quickly than they do to

most other media. Whereas radio

and television schedules often take

time to produce results, people often

reach immediate buying decisions

when they read an ad in the

newspaper. So, in terms of generating

immediate sales, newspaper

advertising is a real winner.

The Basics Of Scheduling

Newspaper Ads

In order to make an intelligent decision and plan an effective schedule of newspaper ads, you first need to be at least somewhat familiar with a few of the basics of newspaper advertising, like reading a rate card, interpreting circulation figures, and determining location and size of your ads. Although this is by no means a comprehensive "All You Need To Know About Newspaper" course, we can offer a bare bones outline of a few of the essential pieces of information you need to know before you take the plunge. Of course, after you get your feet wet, you can continue to learn by watching, listening, reading, and asking questions. But, for starters, here goes... 1) Analyzing circulation.

Since newspaper advertising rates

are based on the number of copies a

newspaper delivers, it's important

for you to know both the quantity

and the quality of its subscribers.

By quality I mean the geographic

and demographic profile of the

readers (demographics including

age, income level, occupational

groups, marital status and sex). That

information is particularly important

when you have to decide between

two or more newspapers in

your market. Because neither

"cheaper" nor "most expensive" are

necessarily the best criteria for

making a judgement. Instead, you

need to know which of those publications

does the best job of reaching

your primary market, both geographically

and demographically.

Before you make any buying decisions,

ask your newspaper(s) for

their "audited circulation figures",

and for any demographic studies

that might have been done by an

outside, independent research firm.

Most larger daily newspapers can

supply you with validated circulation

figures from the Audit Bureau

of Circualtion (ABC) or some other

reputable research firm. Read everything

they give you, and if you

don't understand it, ask for a translation.

Without some general background,

you'll be flying blind and

probably wasting money. 2) Deciphering a rate card.

Each newspaper has its own rate

card which details the various

charges, mechanical requirements

and conditions under which advertising

space is sold. While the specifics

might vary from publication

to publication, the basics are usually

pretty much the same. a) First, you need to know that most

newspapers sell space to local advertisers


But in some larger metropolitan

papers, space is sold by the AGATE

LINE. An agate line is 1/14 of a

column inch (14 lines to an inch).

Whether your newspaper sells by

the column inch or the agate line,

remember that each unit is one column

wide. For instance: An ad 2

columns wide by 6 inches high is

expressed as 12 column inches (2 X 6 = 12), or 168 agate lines (2 X 6 X 14 = 168). b) The basic ad rate -- and the most

expensive rate -- in all newspapers

is the OPEN RATE. That's what

most advertisers pay who buy just a

single insertion or who schedule

ads very occasionally. Additional

charges are usually (but not always)

tacked on if an advertiser requests


certain page or in a particular section

rather than allowing the newspaper

to run his ad ROP (Run of

Page, with location determined at

the newspaper's discretion). And it

always costs more when an advertiser

requests the use of any ink

color other than basic black in his

ad. However, there are also several

attractive discount plans available

to advertisers who are willing to

contract for either a lot of space

over a long period or period ads,

during a specified time period:

--BULK CONTRACTS are based

on volume purchases (a certain

number of column inches or agate

lines over a specified period of time

-- usually 13, 26 or 52 weeks).

Usually, the advertiser can use his

space however and whenever he

wants during his contract period.

But some contracts will further specify

that a minimum number of ads

must be run either weekly or

monthly throughout the contract

period to prevent the advertiser from

saving up all his space for one huge

splash. Bulk contracts are usually

most suitable for advertisers who

put on a big push during peak periods

then cut back to little or nothing

during slow times.


are usually the lowest available rate

on the rate card. But they generally

require that the advertiser commits

to a specified number of ads every

week or every month for the entire

term of the contract. Therefore,

they're usually most applicable to

advertisers who advertise about the

same amount week-in and week-out.

However, frequency rates are

sometimes so attractive, some seasonal

advertisers who would otherwise

opt for a bulk contract choose

instead to sign a frequency contract,

then schedule just minimum

size ads each week during the slow

seasons so they can benefit from the

great savings afforded by a frequency


In order to find the best rate for your purposes, it's important that you talk to your newspaper sales rep(s). They really do want to help you, because it's to their advantage to keep you happy. When you're talking to your reps, also ask about possible PICKUP RATES (sometimes called MULTIPLE INSERTIONS) which provide a healthy discount for running the same ad without copy changes within a specified time period (usually five days to a week). Caution: If you make either a Bulk Rate or a Frequency Rate commitment then fail to fulfill your contract, don't be surprised if the newspaper charges you a SHORT RATE, which is the difference between the rate you contracted for and the rate you actually earned. In other words, if you try to get by with something, you probably won't.

Creating Your

Newspaper Ads

Entire volumes have been written on creating ads, so I would not presume to tell you all you need to know in just a few short paragraphs. But I can provide you with a few generalizations that will serve you well in your attempts to create effective, appealing newspaper ads that attract attention and help sell product. 1) Concentrate on content rather than


Someone once said that a small idea

doesn't get any bigger in a two-page

ad. So expend your time and

effort on improving the content of

your ads rather than the size. That's

not to say that a big ad doesn't have

lots of impact. But a series of well

conceived smaller ads can often be

more effective. Keeping in mind

that people read ads with their egos

and emotions, tell them what they

want to hear rather than a bunch of

unimportant facts and data. And,

contrary to what most retailers might

think, price alone is not the prime

motivator in ads. 2) Keep your ads clean and uncluttered.

Here's where most retailers flunk

as advertisers, because they try to

stuff ten pounds of doggie doo-doo

into a five-pound get their

money's worth, they think. But

don't overload your ads. Keep them

clean, uncluttered and readable.

Leave lots of white space and use

short copy and a simple border so

readers can pick out your products

individually. With too much junk

cluttering your ads, they become

just a mass of gray on a page that's

already full of gray. 3) Be visual.

Newspaper is primarily a visual

medium. So whenever possible use

product illustrations or photographs,

because they'll attract a lot more

attention than an ad that's mostly

copy. When you do use photos, use

good quality black and whites with

plenty of contrast for the best reproduction.

Do not use color snapshots

you've shot yourself. Check with

your suppliers for product illustrations.

If they want you to advertise

their products, they'll probably be

willing to provide you with the

materials you need to do it right. 4) Feature one item.

Even in multiple product ads, select

one featured item on which you can

focus. Then set it off from everything

else by using a larger picture,

different caption, et cetera. Nothing

is more boring than a bunch of

products all the same size in an ad.

And that one featured item will grab

your readers' attention and kindle

their interest. 5) Create an identity.

Always display your logo prominently

in your ads. And establish a

uniform look for all your ads that's

readily identifiable with your business.

It's kind of silly to spend a

bunch of money on advertising if

readers aren't sure whose ad they've

just read. So be consistent. 6) Talk "people talk".

Make your copy conversational and

enthusiastic. And be sure to keep

your sentences short and concise.

Use short, punchy, attention-getting

headlines without trying to get

too "cutesy", and use plenty of

captions and sub-heads to break up

blocks of copy.

In summary

One more important bit of advice about newspaper advertising: Accept help when it's offered. If you're not financially or emotionally ready to seek help from a professional advertising agency, let the newspapers help. Most newspapers will help you with everything from planning your schedules and finding your best deal on rates, to writing and designing your ads. Many of them will even provide assistance in finding available co-op funds from your suppliers and helping you plan promotions. They offer their services at a very low cost. In fact, they're usually free. They're willing to do that because they know that if they can help you become a more successful advertiser, their chances are better of keeping you as a satisfied long term customer.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Grueskin, Robert
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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