How to Advertise in Newspapers and Magazines

by | May 26, 2020

Newspapers and MagazinesPlace of Publications in the Campaign

Many people do not know that the money that they pay for a newspaper does not begin to cover the cost of producing it. The publishers’ profits lie in the sale of advertising space. The same statement is true of magazines. One popular weekly, which is sold to the wholesale distributor for a few dollars per copy, actually costs the publishers approximately several dollars to produce. Many of the newspapers and magazines are free and so selling the advertising space is the only way that the publishers can make money through.

We discussed briefly the various types of advertising media. In this article, we propose to consider the manner in which some of these media may be used as a part of an advertising campaign.

At various times, there has been a certain amount of argument between newspapers and periodicals as to which is the more profitable medium. This debate is unnecessary, since these media are not necessarily competitive. In most instances they are complementary.

Advertising in newspapers and periodicals has been found to be the best method of blanketing a market, that is, launching a certain number of advertising messages in an effort to reach a certain number of possible purchasers, in a given territory, within a given period of time. It is because of these advantages that the bulk of all advertising is done in these media.

Newspaper advertising may be classified into three groups. The largest is that of local retail establishments; second, classified advertising; and third, that of national• advertisers, which is known in the news paper field as national advertising, formerly called “foreign.”

Local Retail Advertising

Retail advertising differs from that done by manufacturers in that the latter’s advertising endeavors to create a demand for a product, while the retailer’s advertising tells the public that they can buy the merchandise they want at his establishment.

The small town retailer, advertising in a small town newspaper, is addressing an audience that knows him and his store. As a rule, neither his stor6 nor his advertising is facing much competition. He is not ordinarily compelled to do more in his advertising than to enumerate his wares and their prices. A large part of the readers are already his customers. In the larger cities, where competition is keener, both in the number of stores and in advertising, the retailer must sell his store as an institution, as well as sell its wares through newspaper advertising. The bulk of advertising space in the newspapers of the larger cities is used by the department stores, which frequently take page and double-page spreads several times weekly. The stores are able to deter mine immediately how productive an advertisement has been by the volume of merchandise sold.

Classified Advertising

By classified advertising is meant the use of small advertisements, usually set in small type, and run under a classified heading. These advertisements are generally local in character—help wanted, positions wanted, rooms and apartments for rent, lost and found articles, etc. Some national advertisers, however, have used classified advertisements effectively. The fact that the “Want Ad” columns are carefully read by certain groups of people results in an assured audience for the manufacturer who puts his advertising message in those columns even though the audience may not always be a large one.

There is a further division of classified advertising in newspapers published in the larger cities. It is called “classified display,” and calls for special rates. An example of such a classification is the display real estate advertising run in a special real estate section, segregated from the rest of the sections. It is one of the most widely used sections, and the most remunerative, both to publisher and advertiser. It accepts display advertisements of any size, above a minimum of one or two inches.

National Advertising

National advertising is that placed by concerns outside of the city in which the paper is published and circulated, although, as pointed out previously, some national advertisers are obliged to pay the foreign or national rate in news papers even though these papers are published in the city in which the headquarters of the company are located. Every year finds more national advertisers employing newspapers to supplement the other forms of media they are using. Some large advertisers spend the biggest part of their appropriations in news papers.

To the national advertiser, newspapers offer many advantages, the chief one of which is making it possible for him to concentrate his activities in a particular territory or section.

The Local Drive

In contrast to nation-wide selling, many manufacturers have successfully promoted concentrated drives in individual centers. Many manufacturers have been led astray by visions of “national prestige.” In advertising, they have so placed their copy as to separate it from their sales work. But manufacturers are coming more and more to recognize, in their advertising as well as in their sales work, that local jobbers and local retailers stand between them and the residents of each locality. They have come to realize, too, the fallacy of the idea of “forcing” distribution by advertising. The theory was that the advertising should arouse such enthusiasm among readers that they would “demand” the product from retailers. The retailer, having “demands” from so many of his customers, would in turn “demand” it of his jobber.

The jobber, in response to the “demands” of so many retailers, would buy a stock from the manufacturer and start the merchandise on its way to clamorous customers. This system involved enormous sums for advertising and often the retailer found that, by the time be secured the merchandise, the “demand” was suffering from anemia and, what was worse, that there was no tonic available. The advertising appropriation had been exhausted. It was not fair to manufacturer, jobber, retailer, or customer. It assumed that advertising could supplant selling. In reality, advertising should be an aid to selling. It is a waste to advertise a product in newspapers and magazines, which is distributed through the retail and jobbing trade, before that trade has been supplied with the merchandise to take care of the customers’ demand, when created.

Assuming that distribution has been effected, and that the manufacturer decides upon a localized drive in newspapers to stir up lagging localities, he must plan his campaign in miniature, just as though he were mapping out a campaign of larger proportions. He must choose his media carefully. He must enlist the cooperation of the various service departments in the newspapers of the territory upon which he is to concentrate his advertising. He must have his salesmen call upon the dealers and jobbers to see that stocks are ample. He must have special copy prepared for the localized campaign. Strategy is used in deciding upon the period when the campaign should run. Many questions should be asked.

Are people away in large numbers on vacations? Is the weather so hot that people have not much interest in anything, except shade, fans, and ice-water? Is purchasing power good in towns in which the advertising is to be run? Are there any strikes? What percentage of the homes are wired for electricity? Is there a supply of natural gas? Water supply? To what audience will the campaign appeal—to the middle class, to the wealthy, or to the wage earner? What proportion does each group form of the population in the given territory? Is there much or little competition of rival products at the time?

General copy will not suffice for a localized campaign. The copy must be adapted to the specific audience. A campaign for a beauty soap was carried on in several cities. The copy was languid; it talked along in a casual, general way. There were beautiful pictures and exquisite words—but no results. Then some acute person remembered that these cities were soft-coal centers. A new series was prepared in a hurry, to meet local conditions. It was crude, blunt, bold. But it sold the soap. Why? Because the copy talked about conditions that influenced the complexions of women in that one territory, and the moment women read it, they nodded approval and said, “Yes, that is true.”

The modern national newspaper advertiser, working city by city, cultivates profitable markets for all his trade outlets as well as for himself, for in the majority of cases he is about ready to subscribe to this proposition: It no longer pays to look for business at points where it will not pay to advertise for it in the newspapers.

Selling Zone

Every candidate for a national office conducts his campaign with full regard for political units. His national triumph is a sum of local successes. He establishes himself, first, in his home precinct; later, in his city, his county, his state. Similarly, every manufacturer seeking national distribution should win it, market by market. This method costs least and builds on the most secure foundation. If you are trying to sell nationally, think first of the local markets. Use your salesmen and your advertising to establish your product firmly and profit ably in each market you enter. The logic of handling, selling, and advertising by markets seems as obvious as a black eye. Every school boy is familiar with the differences—social as well as climatic—between the North and the South, between New England and New Mexico, between Montreal and Los Angeles. In organizing their selling forces, manufacturers have almost universally recognized these facts. They have divided the country into sales territories, establishing branch offices and local warehouses.

The primary functions of advertising, in the merchandising of a product, are to assist the manufacturer in selling it to the retailer (generally through the jobber), and to assist the retailer in selling it to the consumer—at a profit. If an article costs 75 cents to manufacture and sells for one dollar, it is obvious that the profit will depend upon how much it costs to sell it. It may cost 24 cents to sell it in distant regions, and 20 cents to sell it in the city of manufacture. In the one case, the profit is one per cent; in the other, five per cent, or five times as much. The manufacturer must not lose sight of the fact that five per cent of $1,000,000 amounts to $50,000 net profit, while one per cent on double the sales ($2,000,000) amounts to less than half as much net profit ($20,000).

To secure the greatest number of high-profit sales, and to eliminate the unprofitable sales, it is necessary to localize and sectionalize advertising and sales work. Swimming the English Channel is a difficult enough feat when all conditions are favorable. Time, tide, and wind must be studied and taken advantage of by the intrepid swimmer, if the chances of success are to be even. Sound merchandising also tries to go with the tide. Intensive sales and advertising campaigns should first be organized where receptive markets, convenient transportation, possibilities .of large volume, etc., indicate that each dollar of sales work will yield maximum profit. Advertising and merchandising effort should be concentrated in these sections until they are producing all the high-profit dollars that can be obtained from them. The next best sections then should be taken up in the same way, until every market which can be worked profitably is yielding its full quota.

Deciding Upon the Amount of Space

The amount of space to use and the number of insertions to schedule depend, of course, on the product and the medium used. This point will be discussed in greater detail in a later section of this article.

Most, advertisers adopt the plan of opening a newspaper campaign with fairly large-sized space, tapering gradually to small sizes until they reach the size which their appropriation will permit them to use with regularity. In this connection, it is well to note that the single-column advertisement usually receives better position, unless position is specified and paid for, than the double-column or triple-column advertisement. This is particularly true of the papers in large cities. The general practice of newspapers is to make up the page from the bottom upwards, starting with the largest advertisements at the bottom of the page.

When to Advertise in Newspapers

The question as to the best days of the week to advertise must be decided by the advertiser after weighing carefully the advantages or disadvantages of certain days, according to the nature of the product and the buying habits of the community. However, there are certain practices, almost standard, that may aid the advertiser in his choice of days of the week. If he is advertising to men and using small space in a news paper in a large city, Friday is not an appropriate selection. The Friday newspapers, both morning and evening, are generally crowded with the advertisements of department stores, specialty shops, etc.

While no general rule can be laid down, it is safe to assume that, if the product is one that appeals to women, he can be reasonably certain that the news paper’s advertising pages are more carefully perused by them on Friday than on any other week day. If the product is one that makes its appeal to both sexes, Sunday is a good selection for the advertiser who is running a one-time-a-week advertisement. Saturday morning newspapers in large cities are not generally considered a good selection for advertising to women, the theory being that the almost universal observation of the Saturday half-holiday sends most women on pleasure bent, with matinees rather than shopping occupying their minds. Of course, much depends on the product and its relation to buying habits and housekeepers’ habits. A better selection could hardly be made than Thursday evening news papers or Friday morning newspapers for a brand of canned fish, clams, etc., to remind the housewife that Friday is “fish day.” Similarly a laundry soap or washing powder manufacturer profitably capitalizes on Monday as “wash day” by advertising in Sunday papers.

Many advertisers have found that men are more prone to spend money on routine purchases, such as clothing, shoes and haberdashery, candy, tobacco, etc., on Saturdays. Since Saturday is very generally pay day, many advertisers use Saturday morning and evening papers accordingly.

However, there is no set rule or set of rules for guidance in this regard. For many products, one day of the week is as good as another; the only thing to bear in mind is that the advertiser must plan to present his appeal as closely as possible to the time when he expects the purchase to be made. The longer the interval between the urge to buy and the convenient time for purchasing, the less dependable the reaction.

The Use of National Magazines

In advertising circles, the magazine has come to be looked upon as the great national medium. If the advertiser will take the time to examine this type of medium, he will find that it contains the advertisements of those products that have national sales possibilities.

Advertisers use this medium for many purposes. In some cases, they use it to direct consumers to the retailers who handle the product. On the other hand, magazines are also employed by the group of concerns doing business by mail that intend their advertising in magazines to produce orders or inquiries, which are either followed up by mail or turned over to the salesmen of the company. Still others use magazines to keep the name of their product before consumers or to point out new uses for the product.

Few, if any, retail establishments advertise in national magazines. When they do, these concerns usually advertise for mail orders. Others, as in the case of Tiffany and Company, use magazines be cause their house is known nationally, and their advertising is not so much to encourage mail-order business as to attract the visitor from out of town.

Women’s Publications

Women’s publications occupy an important position in many advertising campaigns. They have earned a place for them selves as intimate advisors to their readers, the editorial content being as wide in range as the entire province of women’s interests. A reading of any issue of a women’s publication will reveal the wide variety of topics treated and the equally wide variety of products advertised.

Of course, the chief interests of these publications are directed to women—although many men read some women’s publications. An advertiser must re member, however, that this type of medium caters primarily to readers whose chief interests lie in the home and in the welfare of the family.

The use of Farm Papers

Records in the Department of Agriculture show that two-fifths of the total population of the United States is agricultural. This gives some idea as to the importance of this market to the manufacturer. Hence, it is not difficult to understand why farm papers occupy a place in the advertising programs of many manufacturers.

In these publications, we find advertised about the same types of products as in general magazines. In addition, we find those products that are used primarily by people living on farms.

An advertiser must think twice before deciding not to use farm papers as a part of his campaign, for there is little if any difference, these days, between the wants of the farmer and those of his city cousin. In many cases, the product must be brought to the attention of the farm dweller through his farm paper.

Trade and Technical Publications

Advertising in trade papers is directed at dealers. Manufacturers are anxious to have the endorsement, not only of the dealer but of his sales people as well. Failure of the dealer to accept a product will ruin the best laid advertising plan. In addition, manufacturers use trade papers as a vehicle to inform dealers regarding the plans they are following to induce consumers to use the product.

Technical publications carry the advertisements of manufacturers who produce materials or implements that are used in the professions or in manufacturing. For example, The Journal of Accountancy carries the advertisements of concerns manufacturing the products of interest to accountants, while a publication like American Machinist contains advertisements of machines used to produce various commodities.

Foreign Language Publications

There are over a thousand newspapers in the United States printed in thirty foreign languages, while in Canada there are over a hundred publications in this class. These papers reach approximately 9,000,000 readers. Such a market is worthy of consideration by any manufacturer.

Many national advertisers use this medium because they feel that there is no reason why the readers of foreign language papers should not enjoy and use the same products as are bought by readers of news papers printed in English. Copy in this medium should, of course, appeal to the readers of the particular publication and adapt itself to their language and habits.


Some advertising of impressive proportions has had its inception in directory advertisements. It is said that newspapers find directory advertising to be their most prolific source for the development of newspaper advertisers.

Many attempts have been made to put advertising in directories on a basis that would permit its use as a part of a national campaign. However, it is still, for the most part, of a local nature. While it is valuable in some respects, its possibilities are not very encouraging to an advertiser who is considering it as part of a national program, for the reason that it is not sufficiently elastic.

Size of Space to Be Used

As was pointed out earlier in this article, experience has shown that no hard and fast rule can be laid down regarding the size of space that is best. Some advertisers are advocates of small advertisements, repeated frequently, while the protagonists of the large space base their contention on the theory that one must “shout” to gain attention in a crowd. The advocates of frequent repetition of small advertisements justify their recommendation on the theory that continuity is the vital factor in advertising. While continuity is an important factor in any campaign, the program re solves itself into one of making the advertisement of such size and layout that it will have some assurance of being seen, even though the amount of space used may be comparatively small.

This division of opinion makes choosing difficult for the advertiser. Naturally, he desires his space to be large enough to prevent the “voice” of his appeal being ‘‘drowned out” by his advertising competitors’ bid for attention. On the other hand, the use of large space will sap his appropriation and curtail the duration of his campaign.

Many say that the page is the ideal unit in magazine advertising. Others contend that a page advertisement is more quickly turned over than a half-page or quarter-page alongside reading matter.

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