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Magazine Advertising - Trade Secrets

If you ever come across a magazine that will only quote the readership figure or the distribution figure for the magazine, ask if they are ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) audited.  If they are, ask for the most recent copy. This will give you a lot of information about the magazines sales, including the number of paid subscribers.

If they are not ABC audited, there is another way to find out the number of paid subscribers. At the end of the year, most magazines have to publish a "Statement Of Ownership, Management and Circulation".  This is required with magazines that are mailed out second class mail.  They print this statement once a year and it can generally be found in the November, December or January issue of the magazine.  Don't expect this statement to jump out and grab you.  It is most likely going to be buried someplace in the back of the magazine, with very small print, so you are going to have to look hard for it.  In some cases they may reprint a reduced copy of the actual postal statement, which will make it easier to read.

So what does this Statement Of Circulation tell you?  In the statement they will list, Paid and/or Requested Subscriptions, Sales through Dealers or Newsstands, Free Distribution, Left Over Copies, and Returns From Dealers and Newsstands.

These are the real numbers.  When I place an ad in a magazine, I look at ONLY the number of subscriptions.   I don't bother with the Sales through Dealers or Newsstands. The reason is the magazine distribution game is changing.

A while back, magazine sold that were in a bookstore, drug store or at a newsstand actually sold.  However, today things have changed.  Some of those big name bookstores have either gone out of business or they have cut there locations back dramatically.  Other places that sell magazines have cut back on the amount of space they are will to use in the store for selling magazines.

For example, I have been told by several of the larger bookstore chain managers, that only about 5% to 10% of the magazines they have in the store actually sell. (And those numbers I am told are high numbers).  One manager commented, that years ago people actually bought the magazine.  But now, the large bookstores have chairs and benches to sit on and coffee shops in the store, people don't buy the magazines like they use to.  They just sit there and glance through them.

The distribution agreements have change too.  At one time the store would buy the magazines at a discounted price and they could return the magazine for credit if it didn't sell during that month.  Now magazine are practically given to the stores for free or in some case they are given to the store for free, as long as they don't return them back to the publisher.

Now you are probably wondering why they would do that?  It's simple.  It allows the magazine to "assume" the magazines were sold, thus inflating the newsstand circulation figures.  By doing this, they can show the advertisers a larger circulation figure to justify their ad rates.

I have seen this by looking at the Statement of Circulation figures.  Several magazines I've check out have shown, all of the magazines they sent to the newsstand were sold.   Yeah, right.  This is why it is so important to see the Statement of Circulation.

If the magazine is sold primarily through dealer/newsstand sales, you have no way in knowing if anyone is really going to see your ad.

Back in the late 90's I ran an ad in a magazine that was only sold on the newsstand just to see what kind of response I got.  I offered readers of this magazine free shipping on any order.  I ran this ad for 3 months.  I only got 6 orders total over those 3 months.  Definitely not worth the money to advertise with them.

What happens if you want to run an ad in a small magazine or newsletter that doesn’t print a Statement of Circulation?  They are generally going to be mailed out using a bulk postage permit, so then they had to fill a form out at the post office each time they do a mailing.  This will be their paid postal receipt stating how many pieces were mailed and it should be stamped by the post office.

If they are mailing out the newsletter or small magazine and using stamps…. I would be careful, as you will have no idea how many people they are really mailing out to.

Back in the early 90‘s, I was selling an instructional video for the Tandy 1000 owners, I ran an ad in a small magazine that was geared towards Tandy 1000 owners.  In a letter the magazine sent to us, they stated, "we have over 4800 subscribers".  We ran a half page ad in the magazine for three months.

Our sales were terrible, however, in other magazines, such as PCM magazine, our sales were great.  I called the magazine's publisher and asked him exactly how many subscribers he had to the magazine.  This time he claimed over 7,000 readers.  I asked him how many of the readers were subscribers.  Well, for the next few minutes I got the run around.  I then asked him point blank, for a copy of the paid postal receipt that he has to fill out when mailing the magazine out first class bulk mail.

He said that he didn't have to fill one out.  At that point I knew he was lying, because he was using a first class bulk mail permit number on the magazine.  I called the post office where he had the first class bulk permit from and asked them if he was filing a form 3600-R each time he was mailing out the magazine.  They confirmed that he did.  I called the publisher back and told him that post office had them on file and I informed him that I wanted to see a copy.

To make a long story short, about two weeks went by and I received a copy that was stamped by the post office, to verify it was real.  It showed he was only mailing out 524 copies each month.  He had committed fraud, by stating in the letter that he had over 4800 subscribers, when in reality he had only 524.

Needless to say, we received a refund for the three ads that we did run and we got several months of free advertising.  After that we never advertised with them again.

It's important for you to make sure your ad is really published.  Don't rely on just a tear sheet.  (A tear sheet is where the magazine sends you a copy of the ad, that they have ripped out of an issue.)  Ask for a copy of the entire magazine, this way you can see where your ad was placed in relation to the article content.  Most publishers do this automatically.  If they won't send you the entire issue, be careful about advertising with them.

If a publisher contacts you to advertise in their magazine, and you have never heard of them, ask them send you 4 to 6 back issues before you advertise with them.  Check out the magazine before you sign up and run an ad.  You may even want to start with a small ad to see if you get any response.  When placing ads in magazines, be careful of the publisher or ad representatives that make claims without written proof like we described above.  You could be paying for a very expensive ad, that really isn't reaching all the people that the magazine claims.

Qualified Subscribers

In most markets, there are magazines that are available only to qualified subscribers.  They may offer a paid subscription or be available on the newsstand, but the bulk of their readers are from free subscription to people who “qualify” for them.  Who meets the qualifications will depend on the magazine.  With some magazines, everyone will qualify.

You have to be careful when advertising in magazines that are free for qualified subscribers.  When someone is paying for a magazine, they have enough interest in it that they are going to want to read it.  After all, why pay for a magazine that your not going to read?  And those who do pay for a subscription are more likely to take their time going through the magazine, which will improve the chances of them seeing your ad.

With the free magazines, the reader doesn’t have an investment in it.  After all they didn’t pay for it.  So they may not pay as much attention to it as they would a magazine that they paid for.  Now I realize that some people will read them cover to cover, but there are those who will just flip through the magazine and toss it out if they didn’t find an interesting article. In the end these people will not see your paid ad.

Something I want to point out, is magazines that are primarily qualified subscriber based are depending on the advertisers to cover all of the cost of the magazine, including the distribution cost.  Which can mean the ad rates may be higher than magazines with has paid subscribers.

Running Ads in a New Magazine

Although magazines are struggling, from time to time a new magazine will enter the market.  When they do, if they see that you are adverting in another magazine, they will usually contact you about advertising with them.

Here’s a few things for you to consider before advertising with them.

1. What do their ad rates look like?  Are the higher, lower or about the same that you are currently paying?

2. Are they offering any “introductory” advertising deals?

3. How are they going to distribute the magazine?  Through dealers, subscribers, web based, etc?

4. How many subscribers do they have?

5. Are they paid subscribers or are they free issues going out to “qualified” subscribers?

6. How did they qualify or obtain these subscribers?

7. How many issues are they going to distribute?

8. Are they going to be offering the magazine as a web publication?

9. Do they want you to pay up front?  If they do, don't.

These are questions you need to ask them before you advertise with them.  In the past I’ve seen magazines come on to the market, then only after a few months they fold.

Don’t ever pre-pay for advertising with a new magazine no matter how good of a deal they offer you.  I know of a few people who did this, only to never see their ad run because the magazine never got published.  When they tried to contact the magazine to get their money back, they found the phones were disconnected and mail was being returned to sender.

(The same holds true for web site advertising.  ONLY pay as you go.  Never pre-pay for several months in advance.)

About a year ago, I got a call from a publisher coming out with a new video magazine.  They told me they had 30,000 qualified subscribers and the magazine would be coming out in a few months.  Something didn’t sound quite right to me.  How did they get 30,000 qualified subscribers?  The magazine hadn’t even been published yet and it wouldn’t be for a few more months.

Next, they mailed a very nice slick looking media kit minus any sample issues.  The media kit contain several pages of information about the magazine, the demographics of the readers, the rate card for the display ads and on page stating they had 30,000 qualified subscribers. When I contacted them about how they got the 30,000 qualified subscribers, I was given very vague answers.

Something else that made me uncomfortable was their advertising rates.  They were downright expensive.  More expensive than any other magazine.

However, they were offering a special discount to try them out for just three months.  You could save 30% off whatever ad size you wanted to run with.  All you had to do was pre-pay for the three months…..

I decided to pass and not advertise with them.  To this day, I’ve never seen any magazine, nor have I ever heard from them again.

Here is a true story.  I received a call from a lady who was asking my advice about advertising in a start up magazine.  Some one she knew was starting up a magazine about celebrities in a certain market.  At first this person wanted her to be an investor in the magazine.  My first red flag went up.  Then she said she would be give a back cover ad for only $5000.  A second red flag went up.  As she was talking with me, I learned her friend was "suppose" to have a distribution agreement with a drug store chain and a bookstore chain that was in bankruptcy.  A third red flag popped up.

She explained she sold a very high end product, something that celebrities would buy or people who had the money to spend.  When I asked her about his subscribers, he hadn't given her any real answers.  This probably means he doesn't have any subscribers.  So a fourth red flag popped up.  As we continued talking more and more red flags popped up about this whole situation.

Then came the final red flag...... He needed her to run this ad and pre-pay for the ad so he could pay for the printing cost.  That was it.  Red flags were now flying all of the place.  I told her NOT to run the ad and not to give him any money either as an investor or advertiser.

I told her to run, run like the wind, away from this deal.  It was a bad idea to even run an ad with with magazine.  Friend or not, there was no way she was ever going to get a single sale from that $5000 ad.  The magazine was NOT going to the type of cliental that she catered to.

After, I explained everything to her she agreed, it was not a good idea.  I have not heard back from her, so I only hope she really took my advice and stayed away from that deal.

Online Magazines

Online magazines are magazines that are not printed on paper, but are magazines distributed by PDF format or some other online print format.  These magazines, when displayed on your computer screen, look just like a printed magazine, complete with advertising, articles, classified ads, etc.  Most of them are designed so if you click on an ad, you will be linked directly to the advertiser’s website, which is a bonus for you, as the reader doesn’t have to look up your website later.  They are taken directly to your site while the reader’s interest is at it’s highest for your product.

With online magazines becoming more popular, you’ll find a lot of publishers are starting to offer their magazines both ways, electronically and in print.

Depending on the publication, there may or may not be a subscription charge for the online version.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Some publishers charge for viewing the magazine online line, in addition to charging a lot for advertising.

Some magazine publishers offer more articles or videos to accompany the articles in the online version of the magazine.  They do this for several reasons:

1. They don’t have pay for the extra printing cost of the additional articles.

2. By adding extra content to the online version, they can justify the subscription fees they charge for the online version.

3. By adding more value to the online version, they are trying to get people to switch from print to the electronic version.

The main reason they want to convert readers to the electronic version is cost.  It’s a lot cheaper to put out an online version of the magazine than it is to pay for the printing and mailing cost.

Now some of you are thinking, “if the electronic version of the magazine is cheaper to put out, then the advertising costs will be less.”  Well, that is not always the case, you need to check with the publisher.

We found some magazine charge the same ad rates for both online and print, while other magazines, their online rates where up to 50% cheaper than the same size ad in print.

Some magazine publishers even offered us a print ad, with a free ad in the online magazine.  Or, they would offer some type of combination rate for running in both print and online.  Always try to negotiate for a lower ad rate, especially for an online only publication, as you really don't have any way of knowing how many people are reading the online version of the magazine. Oh sure, the publisher will give you figures, but they may not be that accurate and be more wishful thinking on the publishers part.

Here is a test we ran in 2009.  Two of the magazines we advertised in, switched to online versions only.  Both magazines charged the same ad rates as we were paying in the print version of the magazine.  So I wanted to see if either ad was really paying for itself or if I was throwing money away.

Tracking our results was easy.  Each magazine were offering a link from our ad to our website.  We decided to put up a special page for each ad to link to, this way we could put a counter on the page and see how many people were click on our ad.

I was surprised, the one magazine generated only a handful of people clicking on our ad, while the other magazine generated a lot of people clicking on the ad.

By having each ad link to a special pages on our site, it was easy to track the response we were getting.  Needless to say, we stopped advertising in the magazine that was generating only a handful of clicks.

While online magazines are a growing trend in a lot of markets, not everyone likes them.  Some people would prefer to have a printed magazine to look through instead having to sit in front of a computer or to use a tablet computer to a read a magazine.  So if you have the opportunity to run in both print and online, you might want to go that way.

Tip: While print magazines generally have a 45 to 60 day lead time before the issue comes out with your ad, online magazine generally have a lot less lead time.  This means you ad will been seen sooner rather than later.

Small Magazines and Newsletters

There are some markets where you will only have small magazines or newsletters with a small circulation base and of late, most of these have become online only publications.

If the market you are working in only offers these small publications, then you will have no choice but to run ads with them.  Just be careful and watch how much they are charging for ad space.

Over the years I’ve talked to a few Special Interest Video producers who do work in very small markets that offer only newsletters or small magazines.  They have reported that their sales are fairly good in this type of publication.

However, my experience has only been in markets where you have large magazines supporting the market, along with a few of the small magazines and newsletters.  My experience has been the small magazines or newsletters never produced enough sales to cover the cost of the ad.  However, if the small magazine or newsletter is an online only publication, the ad rates shouldn’t be to bad.  So I would suggest you at least try running some ads with them.

The advertising rates in these newsletters and small magazines will vary greatly.  Some of them feel that their ad rates have to be in line with what the big magazines are charging. This is fine for them, but as an advertiser you have to watch how you spend your advertising dollars, as you want to reach the most people you can with each advertising dollar spent.

I ran a test several years ago where I ran an ad in one small magazine, which had gone out to about 3,000 people who belong to a professional organization.  I didn’t get any sales off the ads I ran with them.  I even went so far as to run a 15% off coupon in the ad and I still didn’t get any response.

When I ran this ad, a 1/6 page ad in a larger magazine that reached 45,000 people cost $600. While the same size ad in the small magazine that reached 3,000 people cost $600.

Let’s do the math.
$600 to reach 45,000 = 0.014 cents per person.
$600 to reach 3,000 = 0.20 cents per person.

As you can see it was more expensive to advertise with the smaller magazine.

Media Kits

Whenever you contact a magazine about advertising make sure you ask them to send you a media kit. Most of them will email you an electronic media kit.  The information you can gain from a media kit can be very valuable and it can give you some insight into the type of people who read that particular magazine.

A Media Kit will generally include:

1. A sample issue of the magazine or a link to a copy of the magazine online.

2. A rate card - explaining the advertising rates, allowable discounts, positioning, etc.

3. Advertising specifications - listing the dimensions for the different ad sizes, what is needed for black and white and color photographs, what material is camera ready, etc.

4. Circulation information - Depending on the magazine this maybe nothing more than a cover letter stating the number of "readers".  With most magazines this information will be a little more detailed. You will find demographics on the readers and other statistical information.

The statistical information can be helpful in determining if the magazine is going to reach customers that will have an interest in what you are offering.

For example, let’s say a magazine has a subscription base of 100,000 Videographer’s and you are thinking about running an ad in this magazine for a video on “Shooting Tips for HD Video Cameras”

The magazine sent over readership statistics show that 32% or 32,000 readers of this magazine that own an HD camera, with another 16% or 16,000 readers who are planning to buy an HD camera.

This means that almost half of the readers of this magazine are your target market.

Now let’s say you are doing a video on using Sony Vegas editing software.  The same magazine’s statistic report that only 6 % of the readers use Sony Vegas software to edit their videos.  Therefore, only 6,000 people that read the magazine would be your target market.

By knowing this type of information you can gauge whether or not you want to spend the money they are asking, for an ad in that magazine.  Another possibility is when you talk to the ad rep, you can always use their own statistics to work out a lower ad rate, since their magazine doesn't hit a lot people with an interest in using Sony Vegas editing software.

I have used this type of information when negotiating rates with some magazines.  When the ad rep called back, I used their own statistics to lower our advertising rate by nearly half.  I do want to point out that there were a few magazines that would not budge on their rates.  But it never hurts to try.

Market Research

What ever magazine you plan on advertising, I recommend trying to get two years worth of back issues, or at a minimum, one year’s worth. You may have to pay for the back issues of the magazine, but it is a small price to pay for the amount of information you can obtain.

Once you have the magazines, grab some paper or make a spreadsheet of the following information:

1. Make a list of the number of pages in each issue.  This can show you if the magazine is growing, shrinking or holding steady with regards to the size of the magazine.

2. You can see if the magazine gets smaller during certain times of the year.  If so, this can indicate when the slow season is for the magazine and for this market.  This can help you adjust your marketing efforts.

Whether or not you plan on advertising in the magazine, it helps to know when the slow season is for a particular market.  Most businesses have a slow season or slow time of the year.

3. You can see how other advertisers are advertising in the magazine.

4. You can find the Statement of Circulation to see the actual number of paid subscribers.

Make a list or a spreadsheet of the number of advertisers each month and the ad sizes each month.  Below is a sample of what I am talking about.

  # of Advertisers Full Page 2/3 Page 1/2 Page 1/3 Page 1/4 Page 1/6 Page
Jan 64 36 7 3 4 8 14
Feb 72 36 7 3 4 7 15
Mar 72 44 9 5 10 10 10
April 80 54 12 8 14 12 8
May 96 62 16 7 19 12 8
June 96 66 16 7 21 12 10
July 96 65 17 6 19 12 10
Aug 92 60 17 6 18 9 10
Sept 80 58 14 2 12 14 16
Oct 80 46 12 2 6 10 16
Nov 62 34 7 1 6 4 16
Dec 62 32 7 1 6 5 14

This type of information allows you to learn that the months from April to October are the best months in this market.  You will see the magazine not only increases in the number of pages each month, but the number of advertisers increase, as does their ad sizes.

Note: In the above chart some advertisers are running multiple ads.

Most magazines will not give you this information.  Why?  Because they are going to want you to sign a twelve month contract to advertise with them.  They don’t want new advertisers to see what the experienced advertisers already know and they don‘t want you to see if the market is seasonal.

The experienced advertisers already know what months their sales drop off.  They will start downshifting their ad dollars to smaller ads or no ads at all.

This information also tells you when would be the best time to start advertising in the market.

Using the information above, how many of you would launch a product in November?  How about April?

If it was me it would be April just as the market is heating back up.

Having information like this can help you make informed decisions and it can help you determine any sales trends.  For example, you launched an instructional video in April and over the next few months the video sold really well.  Then comes September and sales start to drop a little and even more in October.

Then comes November and sales drop to a trickle.  You might start to panic over your sales.  However, armed with the information in the spreadsheet, you would know that you are heading into a normal slowdown for the market.  This allows you to adjust your ad spending and other business costs.

Tracking Your Sales

A lot of advertisers I’ve talked to over the years don’t track the response they are getting from their ads.  They haven’t the foggiest idea which ad or magazine is pulling the best response.  They’re just happy because they are making money from their videos or products.  However, if you think about it, they could be wasting money on ads that are producing enough sales to cover the cost of the ad.

One of the most single important things you can do for marketing analysis is to ask the customer this following question. "How did you hear about us?"  Then write down the response, keep it in a log or track it with a spreadsheet.  This information is vital, as you are going to want to know which magazine is pulling the best for you and which ones you are losing money in.

If you are running an ad in an online magazine, see if the ad can be linked to your website and have the ad link to a special page, so you can count the number of people visiting your site from that ad.

By tracking all of our sales, at the end of the day, week, month or year, I can tell you exactly which source of advertising (including which magazine, internet, mailings, referrals, repeat sales, etc.) are generating sales and how many sales from each source.  Armed with this information I know exactly where to spend my marketing money and where not to.

(NOTE: I have been asked many times about my software package that I use to run the business.  It is a custom package that I wrote myself.  At this time it is not for sale, but who knows, maybe down the road it will be.)

Some books I've read and people I've talked to say, advertise everywhere.  If the customer sees your ads everywhere, it will increase their chances of buying from you.  In some markets this can be true.  However, from my own personal experience I can tell you that's not always true.  If your ads are selling a product direct, such as a product or video, it doesn't always work.

Now some of you may say, "you'll make money on the backend, when the customer comes back and buys more products from you."  Yes, this may be true, however, if you are not making enough money to cover the ad costs, you wouldn’t be in business long enough to make money on the backend.  You have to make sure you are at least making enough money to cover your ad costs.

Here is an example.  After running an ad in a magazine for six months I looked at the number of sales, the profit from the sales, the number of times the customer came back to us as a repeat sale and the total cost of running the ad for six months.  Here are the numbers for a half page ad that I ran in one magazine.

6 months x $1245 per ad = $7470 total ad cost
Total sales from this ad was during the 6 months = 116 sales
The profit of each video sold was $33.65
Total profit made $3903.34

Repeat sales 70
Profit of each repeat video - $33.65
Total profit on repeats $2355.50
Grand total of profit made from this magazine was $6258.84
With an ad cost of $7470.00
We lost a total of - $1211.16

(Luckily at the time I was running ads in other magazines, which helped to offset the loss.)

Since this magazine did sell videos, I didn't pull the ad all together, but I did reduce the size of the ad from a half page to a 1/6 page and ran for 6 more months.  Here are the numbers for the 1/6 page ad.

6 months x $420 per ad = $2610 total ad cost
Total sales from this ad was 87
Profit from each video = $33.65
Total profit made $2927.55

Repeat sales 60
Profit from each repeat video $33.65
Total profit on repeats $2019.00
Grand total of profit made from this magazine was $4946.55
With an ad cost of $2610.00
I made a small profit of $2336.55

Again this magazine had smaller circulation base of somewhere around 10,000 to 12,000 people.  Their ad costs vs. their circulation was high.

In another magazine, I was paying about $850 for a half page ad in magazines with a paid subscriber base of 80,000 people.  (These rates are from several years ago)  This ad was pulling upwards towards 100 orders per month, with around 600 orders for a 6 month period.

All of the above examples were based on only two videos.  As I added more videos to the product line, overall video sales went up.  I really started to make money off that ad when three more videos were added to our line.  I went back up to a half page ad and now I was selling three hundred videos in a six month period, which made a profit on the front end and the backend.

Had I not been tracking sales so closely, I would have never known if the ad was making money.  Since I tracked the ad results, it allowed me to make adjustments to our ad size, so the ad became more profitable.  After all that's the name of the game, to produce a profit and to build a business.

Choosing the Correct Ad Size for Print

As you saw in the above example, when the ad size was reduced from a half page to a 1/6 page, sales didn't drop too much.  The cost of the ad sure did.

You may find that if you are the only one advertising a video on a particular subject in a magazine that a small ad may work well just as well as a larger ad.  Whatever you do, start small and let the ad size grow.  Don't jump in with a single video and take a full page ad, unless the ad space is very cheap.

Years ago a lot of books on marketing said people would have more confidence buying from a company with large ads vs. small ads.  Things have changed, especially with the online world we live in today.  Advertisers are finding that small ad can have a tremendous pull.

Today with the internet, more and more advertisers have reduced their ad sizes.  They use the print ad to drive people to their websites.  I have done this here at Studio 1 Productions and it’s been very successful. It has allowed cuts in advertising cost by 50% while increasing our sales.

When selecting your ad size, whatever you do, don't let the advertising rep "help" determine the best ad size.  They will most likely try to put you into a larger ad than what is really needed.  Remember, they are out to make money for the magazine and to increase their commissions.

Most of the time you are going to find the cost of the ad will determine what size ad you can run.  Ad reps will generally tell you that you need to run the ad for at least 3 months, so you can determine if the ad is working or not.

While in some cases that may be true, you should know within the first month if your ad is generating any response.  You should see an increase in web traffic and a increase in orders.

Classified Ads

Some people will tell you that classified ads in a magazine are a waste of money, while others will swear by them.

If you want to run an ad in the classified section of a magazine, it’s best to run a small one or two inch display ad in the classified section. Then as sales come in, increase the ad size for more visibility.

If you have a very limited marketing budget, I would recommend you start off with a classified ad.  As sales grow, you will always have the option to increase your ad size and ad placement.

With a classified display ad, your space will be limited.  Don’t crowd the ad with too much information and make sure it includes your web address.

Ad Placement

Where should your ad be placed?   In the front, middle or back of the magazine?   Does it really matter?   Depending on the magazine, it can make a difference.  When you place a display ad you can sometimes request certain positioning of the ad.  For example, you may request the ad be place on the right page, outside edge, or near the front of the magazine.  Depending on the publication, you may or may not get what you want, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Most magazines will charge extra for positioning an ad, usually between 10 and 20% of the ad cost.  Some magazines may have restrictions on the ad size in the front of the magazine.  I ran into this once, only full page, four color ads were allowed in the first forty pages of the magazine.  The smaller ads got placed towards the back of the magazine.

Ads that are placed next to text generally tend to pull better.  The reason behind this is, while the reader spends time on the page reading the text, they are more likely to glance over at the ad that is next to it.  You need to make sure you have a good strong and interesting headline.  Once your ad has their attention, you want them to read the rest of the ad.  Ads that are 1/3, 1/2 and 2/3 page in size are usually the only ad on the page and will be placed next to text.  (Although this may vary from magazine to magazine.)

Some magazines will block the ads to certain sections of the magazine.  For example, in some photography magazines, the manufacturers almost always seem to be up front in the magazine, but the dealers that are selling the equipment are located in the back of the magazine.  This really isn't a problem in this type of magazine, as most readers know this and when they want to purchase a camera or another piece of equipment, they will head straight to the back of the magazine to find the dealers.  If the magazine you are advertising in is laid out like this, then you might do better in the back of the magazine.

But, what about the ad getting lost among all the other ads in the back?  It may get lost to a point, so you will have to make your ad stands out among the rest by using bold headlines, contrasting color or reverse print.  Remember, if the reader goes to the back of the magazine to look for products to buy, then chances are they will read or glance over all of the ads in their search.  So make yours stand out.

There is a section in some magazines that is made up of all ads.  This area is usually a "Market Place Section".  Sometimes the ads are all the same size or they may be a variety of sizes.  The "Market Place Section" is usually near the back of the magazine and this section will most likely have a lower ad cost than a regular display ad.  When talking with different advertisers, most of them said they did quite well in the "Market Place Section", as they felt most readers would stop and look over this section to see what is new.

However, there were a few that didn't like advertising in this section, as they felt their ad was not being seen.  It was getting lost among all the other ads.  The key to advertising in this section is to make the ad really stands out.  If most of the ads in this section are in black and white, then make yours color.  Use bold colors as borders or bold colors as a background to help your ad stand out among the others.

If the magazine has ads all throughout that are selling directly to readers, try to have the ad placed next to an article or a regular column.  Ads that are placed in certain sections like product reviews, don't always pull as well as they do when placed next to an article.  This is due to the fact that not everyone reads the product review sections, but most people read the articles and regular columns.

How often should you change your ad?

Some marketing people will tell you to try several different ads and then stick to the one which pulls the most sales.  While this is fine for some markets, however, I have found that you should change your ad often.  Keep the ad fresh.  Change the products or layout of the ad.

When you run the same ad month after month, the regular readers skip right over it.  And what happens if you add a new product to the ad. If the ads look so close to the old ad, people won’t even pay attention it.

In the ads I have run, I change them every couple of months.  Sometimes I just change the colors of the text or the background colors. Other times I change the layout of the ad.  This keeps the ad fresh and I have noticed it improves sales.

Getting Your Ad Designed

You can design you own ads with most any desktop publishing program such as Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign.  Also, you can design your ad with software such as Adobe Photoshop or another paint shop type program.

Spend some time looking through magazines at other ads.  What catches your eye?  Looking at other ads, what they are selling and how they have the ad laid out.  This will give you a lot of ideas on how to design your ad.

Note: I am not saying to copy someone else’s ad, what I am saying is to see what you like out of their ads and see how you can incorporate that into yours.

There are several types of ads that are quite common. They are:

1. Direct Sales Ads.  These are ads purposely to make a direct sale to the reader.

2. Ads that direct you to a website.  This type of ad usually has several products, often without any pricing.  The idea is to get the reader interested and for them to go to the web for more information and to order online.  The ads will contain a directive such as, “visit our website for more products” or “visit our website for more information“.  This type of ad is great for online magazines that offer a link from the ad to your site.

3. Promotional Ads.  We have all seen ads like this.  Ads for a camera from a manufacturer or ads for shoes.  They are not selling the product directly to you, they are promoting the product.

Almost all advertisers who are selling a product will use the first and second method listed above, unless they are selling their product  through a dealer network and not directly to the customer.

I highly recommend you go to the library or a bookstore and get some books on advertising or ad design.  They will contain a wealth of information and ideas, along with plenty of examples of ads.  These books will give you more information than we can cover here on how to layout your ad.

When designing your ad, check with each magazine that you are going to run ads in and see what their requirements are.

If you are not into designing your own ads then:

1. Check with someone from a local college who is learning graphic arts and hire them.

2. Check online in some of the forums to see if you can find a graphic artist.

3. You can hire a local graphic artist to create your ads.

4. See if the magazine offers ad design services.

5. Contact a local ad agency. (This will be the most expensive way to go.)

Key Points For Your Ad

Below is a description of an ad that was run by a gentleman who produced a series of dog training videos. He created a simple ad that did very well for him.  I wish I had a copy to show you, but I don’t.  So I will give a description of what it looked like.

Train Your German Shepherd
(a photo of the videos)
Learn from a Professional Trainer
Working with a German Shepherd
Covers Basic to Advanced Training
$39.95 for Each Video
SAVE - All 3 Videos for $99.95

The ad was simple, but effective. Here are the key points of the ad:

1. The headline was large and caught the attention of German Shepherd owners.

2. The photo was in color and included all 3 volumes.

3. The body of the text highlighted seeing a professional trainer with a German Shepherd.

4. The price of each video and the price for all three videos.

5. The Call To Action. This is the “Call Now” statement.

If you are selling direct to the customer, make sure your ad covers all of the above points.

Your ad should always include a call to action statement, such as Call Now, Call Today, Hurry Call Now, etc.  These action statements really do work.  They direct the reader to do something and if the person really has an interest in your video, this may actually cause the person to pick up the phone and call you.

If your ad directs them to the web to order, the action statements such as Visit Our Website Today, Order at our Website Now, etc. will cause a lot of people to take action and go to your website while they are thinking about it.

This may seem obvious, but make sure you have your phone number and/or web address in the ad.  Also, double check to make sure your phone number and web address is correct.

Ad Costs

There are several ways to reduce your advertising cost.

1. Ask for an in-house agency discount.  This is usually a 10 to 15% discount off the published advertising rates.  You will need to submit your own camera-ready art work.  Most magazines will accept an ad as a PDF, JPG or Photoshop file.

2. A frequency discount.  This is where you agree to run an ad for so many times.  For example, you want to run a 1/6 page ad for your product in a magazine, you may find the rates listed like this:

1 Time rate $100
3 Time rate $90
6 Time rate $80
12 Time rate $70

As you can see, the more time you commit to running your ad, the lower the ad cost.

3. Direct Rates or Mail Order Rates.  Companies dealing directly with the public and not through resellers are considered a mail order or direct sales company.  Some magazines will a have discount rate for this type of advertiser.  Make sure you ask the ad rep at the magazine
if they offer any special rates to direct sales companies or mail order companies.

4. If you are a new advertiser, see if the magazine has any type of new advertiser discount.  This has worked for me.  I have received a twelve time rate on a three time contract.  This allowed me to see if the magazine generate orders.  At the end of the three time run, we went on to commit to a twelve time contract.

5. Negotiate the rates.  I have talked with other advertisers who have been able to negotiate better rates than what are printed on the rate card, especially since magazines need advertisers.

6. Ask about remnant space.  This is space the magazine has left over and they usually try to fill it right before the issue closes (or goes to printing).  Remnant space can be VERY inexpensive.  Ask the ad rep about it.

Almost all magazine are going to want you to sign a contract saying that you will run your ad a certain number of times during a year.  A three time contract means you will need to run your ad three times during a one year period.  You can run the ad over three consecutive months or run it every other month for three times or run it every four months, etc.  It generally doesn’t matter when you run it as long as the ad runs three time during a one year period.

7. Before you sign any contract with the magazine, make sure you know about the subscribers, demographics, etc. that we covered earlier.

I can't stress this enough, magazines are hurting for advertisers.  Negotiate with them for better rates or discounts and for a banner ad on their website.

When signing the ad contract, check to see if there is any penalty if you reduce your ad size.  With some magazines, if you sign a contract for a 1/2 page ad and you find your are not pulling enough sales and you will probably want to reduce the ad size to something smaller.  However, they may not let you depending on the contract.

If that is the case, sign a contract for a 1/6 page ad or the smallest ad you can, then run a larger ad.  They usually don’t have a problem if you want to go up in an ad size, but the don’t like it when you go down.

Lead Times

The lead time is the time it takes from when you submit the ad to the time that magazine issue comes out.  Lead times are usually six to twelve weeks depending on the magazine.

Let’s say you are going to place an ad in a magazine with a twelve week lead time.  That means you submit your ad on June 2, your ad won’t come out until Sept. 2.  Make sure you watch your lead times so you know when your ad will appear.  Also, don’t forget if you want to run a holiday special you have to layout the ad early enough.

I remember once seeing a company run an ad for a Christmas special.  It wasn’t in the December or January issue, but there is was in February issue.

The Cover Date

Some magazines may have a cover date of one month, but come out in another.

Here are two examples of magazines that we advertise in:

1. Magazine A will have a cover date of April, but they come out in the beginning or middle of March.

2. Magazine B will have a cover date of April, but they don’t come out until the end of April or the first week of May.

Check to see when the issues actually come out.  This will be important if you are going to run a sale or you want to announce a new product.

How Often Should I Run My Ads

The response you get with that question will vary greatly.

Some will say run the ad every month and their reasons for that answer is:

1. This keeps your ad in front of the reader so when they are ready to buy, your ad is in the current magazine issue.

2. This keeps your name out there and the customer gets familiar with you.  Some feel it takes the ad being seen 3 or more times before you get the readers attention and for them to take action.

3. It helps build name recognition. If people see your ad month after month, they will recognize your company.

Other will say, run the ad every other month or every few issues of the magazine. Their reasons are:

1. Your ad is being seen by the same crowd over and over again.

2. If they are going to buy, they will buy when they are in need of the product and not as a result of the ad running 3 or more times.

3. Your wasting money by running the ad for the same products every month.

4. You should rotate your advertising between print and the Internet.

So which way of thinking is correct? ….Both, as it really depends on your market.

The world in changing to an online world.  With people migrating more and more to the web to get their information, you need to keep that in the forefront of your mind when running ads.  However, don't discount print advertising all together.  Try a combination of both avenues.  Try running some small print ad, even if you only run a print a a few times a year.

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