This article is focused on offline advertising media and methods. You should not ignore the offline advertising opportunities, if online advertising works for your business very well. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to read this article.
Here is what you have consider when you want to think about advertising your business on the local, national and non-internet media:
- Circulation and Prestige
- Aiming at the Possible Purchaser
- Local and National Media
- Occupation of Readers
- Weighing Circulation
- Duplication of Circulation
- Preferred Positions
- Morning and Evening Papers
- Weekly and Monthly Magazines
- Circulation and Prestige
1. Circulation and Prestige in Advertising
The worth of any advertising medium as a vehicle for the advertising message is judged by two main considerations: (a) the extent of its circulation (volume), and (b) its character and influence (quality). This is especially true of newspapers and magazines, and to only a lesser degree of other forms of advertising media.
Mere volume is not an assurance that the medium will prove profitable for display of the advertiser’s goods, any more than a shop window before which 50,000 people pass every twenty-four hours can be said to be more valuable than one before which 25,000 people pass. The 50,000 crowd may contain 40,000 factory hands or mill workers who would be neither interested in, nor have the wherewithal to purchase, the goods displayed. That would leave a margin of 10,000 potential purchasers.
On the other hand, the 25,000 passing by the second window might include 20,000 women shoppers and business men whose interest is backed by the ability to buy the goods displayed.
Therefore, in considering an advertising medium, there is another and more important angle than that of the number of people who buy it. Consider also who they are, and why and how they buy it. Do they buy it on the news stands, or are most of the readers subscribers? Regular subscribers lend solidarity to a magazine’s influence.
On the other hand, many persons buy a magazine regularly from news stands, and it is an obvious conclusion that they buy it be cause they want it, week after week, or month after month. How the readers buy a magazine is not so important as who and how many they are, and why they buy it. Most magazines can show an analysis of their circulations, the kinds of people who buy them, where they live, their sex, and their business or professional pursuits.
2. Aiming at the Possible Purchaser
It has been said by advertising men that “the public buys nothing,” which means that advertising is a mass appeal directed at the public generally, but hitting only those who are interested and who are in the market to buy. Individuals cannot be appealed to separately except through direct advertising. The group alone can be considered, and, before directing selling messages to that group; it is necessary for the advertiser to have in mind the typical member of the group.
Certain questions are to be asked in establishing the characteristics of the typical purchaser, and in the answers to those questions the advertiser often finds that certain media are naturally eliminated from the campaign, while others naturally present themselves as worthy of consideration.
We often hear the statement that the advertiser should address his message to the typical purchaser. This is not always possible, since the purchaser of a product may have been influenced by someone else. Life insurance companies, in their advertising, have reached the men through messages directed to the wives.
The manufacturers of washing machines and vacuum cleaners, whose products are bought by women, have subtly played upon the sensibilities of the husband by picturing the drudgery of housework. In the final analysis, it is probable that the woman’s wishes dominate in the choice of the new radio receiver, player piano, or piano. These articles are advertised extensively, therefore, in women’s publications, as well as in publications of general appeal to both men and women.
For the purpose of the advertiser, the typical purchaser is the one who induces the purchase of a commodity, no matter whether he or someone else actually furnishes the money to buy it.
3. Local and National Media
An express train that whizzes by local stops will give the passenger a good ride for his money, but it will be of no practical use if his destination is a local station. Before selecting the media that we are to use as a part of our campaign, we must first consider the nature of the market in which we expect to sell our goods.
If it is local, we shall probably select newspapers, direct mail, and the various kinds of signs. On the other hand, if it is national, and the size of our appropriation permits it, we shall probably add magazines to the list. As was pointed out earlier in this volume, there was a time when innumerable products were sold within a restricted area, and demand for them was stimulated by local advertising. Then, step by step, distribution was increased until national media were employed profitably.
An interesting instance is that of the fishing industry of New England. Thanks to the perfection of packing methods, fresh fish and other sea foods are sent by parcel post to far distant points, within a few hours after leaving the water. Publications of national circulation are profitably used to acquaint the people living at points far distant from the Atlantic seaboard that these food products are available, fresh, and palatable.
4. Occupation of Readers
Not only must the advertiser know how many readers a medium has, and where they are located, but he must know how intelligent they are, and how much purchasing power they have. Where an occupational analysis of circulation is available, it will come very close to serving as a guide both as to intelligence and purchasing power of the readers. If the product is one that makes its appeal to creature comforts, such as a food product, clothing, medicine, etc., then the advertiser need not be concerned so much with the degree of intelligence of the readers as with whether the occupational analysis indicates that they have the wherewithal to buy.
But should his product or service be of such a nature as to appeal to a more highly cultured class, such as books, music, etc., then lie must sift the circulation and eliminate those who are not likely to be interested. Out of 50,000 readers of a magazine, there might be a 100% representation of prospects for oil stoves, linoleum, cereals, etc., but only a 30% representation of logical buyers for garage heaters, jewelry, books, garden tools, etc., and only a 5% representation to which he could attempt to sell parquet flooring, bronze railings, or greenhouses.
5. Weighing Circulation
The worth of any advertising medium depends upon how much it will cost an advertiser to reach possible purchasers through that medium, and what its standing is in the minds of purchasers.
To begin with, it should be noted that cost per reader and cost per possible purchaser are two very different propositions. It is a very simple matter to arrive at the cost per reader, by dividing the advertising rate for the unit of space by the circulation. A page rate of $500, divided by a proved circulation of 100,000, would give a cost of half a cent a page for each reader of the periodical. But such optimistic figuring cannot be used.
Not every reader of the 100,000 will see the advertisement, nor will every reader who does see the advertisement he necessarily a possible purchaser for the goods advertised. Each advertiser must decide how much it will cost him, and how much he can afford to pay, to reach every possible purchaser to whom a medium may appeal. Just as he would figure his distribution costs per unit, so must he figure the extent to which he can spend money to influence sales by advertising.
Some years ago, advertisers and advertising agents opened their copies of The Saturday Evening Post with a gasp of surprise at seeing large space used to advertise a leather belting. “How can advertising in the Post, with its rate (at that time, $98 per inch) pay the manufacturer of this belting?” was the thought that ran through their minds. They continued to wonder until the manufacturer of the belting told his story.
It seems that he had been advertising for many years in the trade journals that reached the factory executives who purchased belting. While rates in the trade papers were very low in comparison with Post rates, and while these trade papers reached the men this manufacturer was after, he decided upon what was then considered a radical departure in advertising practice.
He put his advertising in the medium that reached these same executives in their homes and clubs, at a time when they were relieved of business cares, and were consequently in a more receptive frame of mind. The proof of the pudding is usually several hours after the eating. Within six months the Post was carrying the advertising of four other manufacturers of leather belting.
6. Duplication of Circulation
Strictly speaking duplication of circulation simply means overlapping of a medium’s circulation by that of another medium. In other words, if an advertiser buys space in “A,” a monthly magazine, and in “B,” another monthly magazine, he may feel reasonably sure that a proportion of the readers of “A” also see “B,” and vice versa.
Few things in advertising are so often misrepresented or so often misunderstood as the subject of duplication. One should never be misled by “duplication” figures into the belief that duplication is waste effort, for duplication (or call it by its right name, repetition) is the lifeblood of advertising. You “duplicate” a magazine’s circulation to the maximum when you advertise your business in every issue of that magazine.
No doubt there will always be controversy as to whether the wide market will produce more sales than the narrow market, when the latter is more intensively cultivated. It is excellent advertising practice to reach likely purchasers as often as possible with an advertising message. Therefore, it would seem that duplication is as much an asset as a liability.
Whether or not the advertiser accepts the theory, he does want to know, when he orders space in a medium, how much of its circulation is duplicated by other media. The experience of the Literary Digest in circulation building indicates the following:
(a) Even where magazines employ the same sales force or have common editorial or business management, no periodical duplicates any other by more than 50%.
(b) Periodicals operating in the same field and published by separate companies rarely duplicate more than 25%.
(c) One weekly duplicates another weekly less than a weekly duplicates a monthly.
Duplication of circulation is heaviest among evening newspapers in large cities. For, while a man or woman will buy, as a rule, one morning paper, a large number buy two or more evening papers.
7. Advertising Rates
Newspaper advertising rates are based upon so much per thousand circulation. However, the rate varies with the class of the publication and its readers. For instance, a foreign language newspaper in a large city might have a circulation of 175,000, and yet offer a lower rate than a newspaper printed in English in the same city, with a circulation of but 75,000.
Some newspapers have as many as three rates, charging one to national advertisers (known in the newspaper field as “foreign or national advertisers”), another to local or retail advertisers, and another to department stores. In rare cases, the national rate is lower than the local rate; in most cases, it is appreciably higher. Most papers differentiate between local and foreign advertising solely upon the basis of the address appearing in the advertising. For instance, a New York manufacturer of men’s clothing advertising in a Hartford newspaper over his New York address, or with no address appearing, would be charged the “foreign rate.”
But should the advertisement conclude by saying, “For sale at—,” and give a local address, the advertiser would be al lowed the local rate. Local addresses of branches, however, usually take foreign rates in most papers. On the other hand, instances might be cited of concerns advertising nationally, with headquarters in New York City, that are obliged to pay foreign rates when advertising in New York City newspapers.
There are various types of contracts offered advertisers for obtaining discounts from the regular or “one time” rates of the newspapers. These are generally divided into two classes: (a) contracts for space, and (b) contracts for time. In the former, the advertiser agrees to use a specified number of agate lines or amount of space in the newspaper within a given period, usually a year.
In the latter, the advertiser agrees to run his advertising so many times— once, twice, or three times a week—for a specified period, or a specific number of insertions within the year. Some papers give an additional discount for receiving as much space within the month as any other paper in the same field in the same city. This is known as the “full-copy discount.”
It is not generally necessary for the advertiser to use his full space every time he inserts an advertisement, in order to gain these discounts. Most papers accept the insertion of what are known as “rate holders”—one-inch advertisements on the scheduled dates of the contract.
In other words, if an advertiser has contracted to run his advertisement three times a week for a year, he may run two large advertisements and one “rate holder” every week to hold the rate. The size of “rate holders” varies with the different papers, and the one-inch advertisement is generally the minimum. lit is well to note that “rate holders” seldom enjoy special positions, but are inserted “run of paper,” at the publisher’s option.
Magazine space is based upon the rate per thou sand readers, much the same as newspaper space, but it is naturally much more costly, as the magazine sells a different type of circulation. The life of a magazine advertisement is longer than that of a newspaper advertisement, the reader interest is higher for a longer period in magazines than in newspapers, and it is generally conceded that only the buyer of a newspaper may be counted upon to see the advertisements, while many people can be counted upon to read every issue of a magazine sold.
Practically all magazine space is sold at the same price per line regardless of the total amount of space used within a year. This is known as a “flat rate.” Nearly all agricultural publications sell space on the flat-rate basis. Trade and technical publications and some “class” publications are still inclined to use the sliding scale described for newspapers, and in this field the rates vary more than in any other. Most of the space, however, is sold on the basis of so many insertions per year, with a standard-size space for the life of the contract.
8. Preferred Positions
Nearly all newspapers sell specified positions at an advance of from 5% to 250% over the regular run-of-paper rates. Few magazines sell positions other than second, third, or fourth covers. Covers are usually printed in colors and cost anywhere from 50% to 100% more than black and white. Some positions, however, are sold only on a twelve-time basis, and this is considered as a premium as, for example first right-hand page, or page facing editorial page.
A magazine will have all its advertising pages grouped in a section following the reading pages, or both preceding and following the reading pages. Many of the weekly and monthly magazines are now made up so that advertising, other than page advertisements, appears on a reading page. Usually there is a column of reading matter and two columns of advertising on one of two facing pages.
Sometimes there are two columns of reading matter and one column of advertising to a page, and, if it be a four-column page, there may be two columns of reading matter with one column of advertising on either side.
Some newspapers sell specified positions on a page, as well as selling specified pages. Many small-town newspapers sell advertising on the first page, but advertising is rarely seen on the first page of a big city newspaper, excepting the small “readers” at the bottom of the column, printed in the same type as the rest of the reading page, or smaller.
A one-position advertisement is next to reading matter, a two-position advertisement is next to and following reading. The most costly positions are top or bottom of column, with reading matter on three sides.
The popular page positions in newspapers are pages two and three, the page opposite the editorial page, or the sporting, woman’s, society, financial, and last pages.
9. Advertising Prestige
Prestige is the influence an advertising medium has on its readers. Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, for instance, may have a vast influence on women interested in correct fashions, and have greater influence on ladies’ tailors and monodists.
There is no formula by which one may measure prestige in so far as it concerns direct mail or signs. True, a letter sent by first-class mail may carry greater prestige than one sent by third-class mail, and a dignified letterhead reflects more prestige than a glaring one, but an advertiser can decide upon which of the many variables to adopt only after he has learned about the experiences of others and used his own best judgment.
Signs are enjoying greater prestige today than when they were pasted or painted anywhere and everywhere. With the standardization of billboards came improvement in character and an increase in their value as advertising media.
In considering the prestige of newspapers and periodicals, an advertiser must assume a coldly impartial attitude. An advertising representative of a New York paper of unquestioned leadership in the quality of circulation desirable for high-class hotels had an interesting experience.
He presented his appeal for advertising to the manager of a leading re sort hotel, a presentation made easy by the impressive and unquestioned circulation of his paper. The manager indicated throughout the presentation that he did not intend to advertise your business. Finally, when the young advertising man had finished, the manager said, “You’re a good salesman.”
“No,” said the representative, “I’m afraid I’m a rotten salesman. If I were a good one, I don’t see how I could go out of here without your order.”
Then the manager explained: “I have an appropriation that permits me to do just so much advertising. It is running in the (naming a paper with a far smaller circulation). I know that paper is not as effective a medium as yours. But years ago I was young in the hotel business. I had my first house to manage and the prospects for the season looked dismal. That paper took my advertising and they were as kind and helpful as they could he to a struggling young hotel manager.
They gave my house publicity that I had no reason to expect, and because of that publicity my first season as a manager was a good one. That gave me my start. Without that paper’s help, my first season might have been a fizzle—and I don’t know what I might be doing now. So if at any time I can advertise in only one paper, the one that helped me when I needed help will carry the advertising.”
We cannot help liking the veteran manager who never forgot his debt of gratitude, but we must recognize him as an exceptional case.
Unfortunately, many advertisers are, for no particular reason, guilty of bias in favor of, or in op position to, certain newspapers and magazines, guided largely by their personal likes and dislikes. On the other hand, many an advertiser is open- minded enough to recognize that a newspaper which he might consider too “yellow” or sensational to read himself, or to take into his home, offers an excellent advertising medium for his business.
The dollar of the proletariat is just as good as the dollar of the “upper crust,” and one will often find advertising of the most exclusive retail houses and manufacturers in the columns of the most sensational metropolitan dailies. It is the “common people” who keep the wheels of industry turning.
Of late years, the censoring of advertisements has come to be practiced with ever-increasing rigidity. Of this censorship there are two phases. One is the exclusion of advertisements that might offend portions of the readers, as, for example, medical and tobacco advertising. The other is the tendency to protect readers against loss by barring dishonest advertisements. In the campaign against dishonesty in advertising, one of the first things publishers did was to exclude patent medicine advertising that made exaggerated claims. Many publications now exclude all advertising of patent medicines, regardless of their wording.
A few years ago, publications would accept any kind of an advertisement. Today, however, not all the advertisements submitted for publication are accepted by the publishers. As a matter of fact, some publishers go so far as to guarantee the truth of every advertisement appearing in their columns. One women’s publication has laboratory tests made of a product before it will permit the product to be advertised in its columns.
In judging the prestige enjoyed by a publication, an advertiser should consider its editorial, advertising, and circulation policies. It is too much to expect the reader of a publication to put much faith in its advertisement unless its editorial policy is such that he can believe what he sees in the reading columns.
Readers will not have confidence in a publication, nor in the advertising it carries, if it is given to constant exaggeration. Since an advertiser cannot run the risk of having his advertising discounted, it behooves him to select those media that enjoy an excellent reputation because of their editorial policy of prohibiting exaggerated statements. Such publications will have built up a body of readers who believe in them and in what they say.
The next consideration will be the advertising policies of the publication. Editorial policies give the advertiser an index to the character of the people who read the medium, and the amount of influence the medium is likely to have with them. Circulation policies give him a picture of the general popularity of the medium. Still more important are the advertising policies of the media under consideration.
The final consideration of the advertiser, when measuring the prestige of a publication, is the manner in which its circulation is obtained. An advertiser is entitled to know the quality and quantity of circulation he is paying for when he buys space in a publication. He need not take the publisher’s word for these things; other sources of information are available through the machinery of the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
This is a cooperative organization supported, in part by membership dues of advertisers and advertising agents, but largely by publishers who pay on the basis of the amount of circulation they have. The Bureau sends out, twice a year, trained men who audit the books of each publisher member, following which it issues a report showing the exact circulation, how and where distributed, by what methods secured, and other valuable data. The advertiser uses these reports to provide him with an intimate picture of the circulation policies of the publications under consideration.
10. Morning and Evening Papers
The publishers of morning and evening papers set up competing claims for their publications. The fact remains, how ever, that less advertising is carried in the morning papers, as a group, than in the evening papers. This does not mean that morning papers are a poor advertising medium.
In actual work, media are not selected as a group—morning or evening papers, for example—but are chosen individually. An advertiser would be extremely short-sighted who would decide upon using only morning or evening papers, before he had considered the readers of the two types and their preferences. Both are good advertising media, and each has its desirable points.
Many advertising men who contend that only propositions appealing to men rightfully belong in the morning paper, because the man reads it on his way to business, will reverse their decision when called upon to select media for making an appeal to the leisure class of women.
They will then recommend a morning paper on the assumption that milady reads it as she breakfasts in bed, and that her evenings are so filled with social obligations that she has no time to peruse the evening editions.
11. Weekly and Monthly Magazines
As in the case of morning and evening newspapers, there are arguments both for and against the weekly magazine as compared with the monthly. The publisher of the weekly advances the argument of rapidity, contending that the monthly cannot carry the advertiser’s message so quickly, to so many people, as can the weekly. Furthermore, the weekly permits the advertiser to send his messages four times as frequently, during a month, as the monthly, which speaks for him but once during that period.
A weekly magazine, it is quite evident, paves the way for a quicker response to advertising than a monthly. On the other hand, a monthly has a longer life in the home. The weekly gives the advertiser more opportunity to make his advertising a timely tie-up with holidays or special occasions. Advertisements can be made timely in monthlies, to some extent, by knowing the date on which the publication is to be offered for sale.
Both the weekly and the monthly have distinctive features to offer the national advertiser, and as stated of newspapers, neither one nor the other is a good or bad advertising medium, merely because of the time interval at which it is issued.
The advertiser must study the fitness of both the weekly and the monthly, to obtain the results he desires from his advertising, and employ either or both judiciously, as far as his advertising appropriation will permit.