Knowing the right way to buy newspaper advertising can save you time and money. Learn different ways to buy newspaper advertising, what happens when you contact newspapers directly, and how to negotiate the best price. Determine whether you can do this job yourself, or whether you should hire a media buyer to do this for you.
Key things to know about buying newspaper ad space
Buying local newspaper advertising in one town is something you can do yourself. However if you are planning a large regional or national campaign using newspapers and/or other types of advertising, this isn’t something you want to take on yourself. Hiring a media buying agency or a freelancer media planner/buyer with access to all the research tools is a worthwhile expense. They’ll know how to negotiate the best deals. And they’ll handle what’s called “trafficking” the ad which is managing the logistics to get all the ads (and changes when prices or products need to be made) to the newspaper publishers.
Know this: Posted rate card rates are what the media sellers hope to sell the ad space for. Think of the rate card like suggested manufacturer list price. Remember, everything is negotiable.
Tips on gathering print media prices
Most newspapers have a link on their website for advertisers that has their media kit with prices. But their pricing is often so complicated that you’ll need to call to talk to a sales rep to really understand it. Ad space is sold by column inch and many papers have different rates for different industries.
SRDS stands for Standard Rates and Data Service. This company compiles books and online tools for print media costs. Their service for an individual costs more than $600, too much for an individual small business to justify buying. Check your local library to see if they subscribe to SRDS.
How newspaper advertising is purchased
You, or your media buyer, need to talk to and negotiate rates with each individual publication or publisher. Media buyers generally send out a RFP (request for proposal) to appropriate papers and then meet with the sales reps from each publication to hear their ideas, pricing and special deals.
When selecting and buying newspaper ad space:
- There’s often a lower rate for local businesses and retailers. You’ll need to ask for this.
- If you’re buying newspaper ad space and ads on the paper’s online site, ask for the combination rates.
- Be very specific about who your target audience is (and isn’t). Define the demographics of your prospects: age, gender, education level, household income, where they live, etc. But go beyond that to identify hobbies, life stage (new parents, empty nesters, brides, etc.) and interests. If you’re selling to other businesses, define what’s called firmographics, information about the companies and buyers you are trying to reach.
- Evaluate and compare proposals based on:
- Objectives of your advertising. Is your objective to drive awareness for your brand, to drive consideration for your product, or to generate a direct (sales) response? Depending on your answer, the selection of newspapers, placements within the newspapers, and adjacency to a contextually relevant editorial category may be different.
- Targeted reach and frequency. That is what the cost is to reach your target audience, not just anyone who subscribes to the paper. People who are not your target audience are considered “waste.”
- CPM, cost per thousand, to reach your target audience.
- Target audience composition, the percentage of readers who match your defined target audience.
- Consider concentrating your advertising in a few publications where you can afford to have a consistent presence. This way you will look like a major advertiser to the readers of those papers. This can also help you build frequency among a consistent audience, increasing the probability for your ad to be recognized.
- For daily publications, ask to see readership levels by day. Readership generally varies widely. People who get the paper don’t necessarily read it.
Tips for saving money buying newspaper ads:
- Ad rates are negotiable. Ask about special pricing for multiple insertions, an annual contract, bonus ad space, better placement without the premium.
- Local advertisers can buy ad space just for particular counties or zip codes.
- Keep asking the sales reps for better rates and what’s called “value add” (tickets to concerts, shows, bonus space, sponsorships, etc.).
- If you buy direct, ask for the wholesale rate (15% lower).
- Monitor your ads to assure that you are getting your money’s worth of exposure. Don’t hesitate to demand make-goods for significant mistakes.
- Negotiate when you buy the ads on pricing for buying a list of the magazine subscribers email or direct mailing addresses.
- Negotiate pricing for ads on the magazine’s website when you are buying the print ads.
About advertising placement in newspapers
- Ask for consistent placement next to a relevant section or column
- Ask for consistent placement in a particular section (sports, food day)
- Ask for right-hand ad placement since the ads on the right are seen more than ads on the left page, and ask for the ad to run top of page if it’s a smaller ad size.
Know this if you are buying local or regional editions:
Many local papers are distributed over a wide geographic region. If you only want to target people in one city, then you don’t want to pay for reaching people in towns and other parts of the state who wouldn’t likely become customers. Calculate your CPM (cost per thousand) for reaching only those people you want to reach. That’s called your targeted reach. Use that information to negotiate lower pricing with the newspaper.
Tip to save time:
Some states have newspaper associations that make it easier to buy ads in local, state and national newspapers through “one-stop shopping.” See how the Minnesota Newspaper Association does this: http://mna.org/advertising/
Pay particular attention to adhering to FTC (Federal Trade Commission) laws regarding claims and comparisons to competitors. If the FTC receives a complaint they can and will require the advertiser to pull the ad in question until the issue is resolved. You are guilty until proven innocent. For small businesses that may only have one ad to run, this could mean you have to pay for media space you’ve reserved and don’t have an ad to run. The FTC website does an excellent job explaining the laws: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/advertising-faqs-guide-small-business
www.bizjournals.com – Biz Journals is the online division of American City Business Journals, the nation’s largest publisher of metropolitan business newspapers. It operates the websites for each of the company’s 41 print business journals.
Ad Transit is a company that specializes in “trafficking” newspaper and magazine ads by offering certified online delivery of Newspaper and Magazine Advertising materials. If you’re buying ads in newspapers nationwide, you may want to investigate them. And read what others have to say about using them.