Media Series – Issue 1: Newspaper Advertising

Newspaper Advertising in Iowa

When it comes to advertising, lots of people are doing it and, unfortunately, many of them are doing it badly. As my father was fond of saying, people only read the instructions as a last resort when all else fails. My wife frequently edits this by limiting it to only men but that’s a story for another day.

As a rule, we find that most people would like to do a better job with their advertising but don’t know any better. It’s pretty hard to find an instruction manual that tells you what, when, where and how to advertise. While we can’t simply transfer years of experience in a couple articles, we can help you avoid some of the major pitfalls associated with advertising.

With that said, welcome to our Blog series on advertising. We’ll cover a few of the most common forms of media and keep them in a similar format so you can get somewhat of an “apples to apples” comparison. For our first issue, we’re going to focus on one of the oldest forms of media and still one of the most popular; the newspaper.


Overview of Newspaper Advertising

As I said earlier, newspaper is one of the oldest media forms and remains very popular. While digital media has cut into overall newspaper circulation, the majority of homes still subscribe to some form of newspaper. With a broad range of frequently updated content, newspaper still offers things that many consumers don’t feel they can get anywhere else. Newspapers remain a trusted source of information on a variety of topics that appeal to a broad audience. There’s something for just about everyone in a newspaper.


Upside of Newspaper Advertising

From an advertising standpoint, newspaper continues to be an effective medium for a number of reasons. Here are a few of what we consider to be the most prominent.

  • Circulation is still very large so you can touch a large percentage of the population.
  • The wide variety of topics appeals to broad audience.
  • Ability to place ads by sections enables targeting of most likely consumers.
  • People spend time with their newspaper. It is read in a leisurely manner.
  • Newspaper readers expect and even seek out advertising in their newspaper.
  • High frequency combined with limited geography offers ability to selectively limit spend.

Downside of Advertising Using the Newspaper Medium

It’s not all sunshine with newspapers, though. Here are a few of the negatives to consider as you build your media plan.

  • With so many ads, it can be difficult to get yours noticed.
  • Newsprint offers limited print capabilities for high quality ads.
  • Although read at leisure, newspapers are discarded after only one day.
  • Frequency and limited geography means you may need to advertise in multiple papers on multiple days which drives up cost.
  • Since pages are so large, your ad needs to be large as well just to get noticed.

Main Thing To Know About Newspaper Advertising

I’ll tell you right up front that this section will include my one very subjective opinion on the medium in question for each issue. Feel free to disagree with me but I’m going to give you a very pointed recommendation based on years of experience with many different products and services. Here’s my biggest pearl of wisdom regarding newspaper advertising.

In my experience, newspapers are a poor vehicle for building brand equity but an excellent vehicle for event based advertising. In short, focus on event advertising if you’re going to spend your money on newspaper advertising. The good news is, “event” is a relative term. For a retailer or local service provider, every sale is an event so newspapers are great vehicles. If you’re a CPG manufacturer, this may mean newspaper is usually not a good vehicle for you. If you use them, limit your ads to when you have something local going on like a special sale or seminar.

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Article written by John Howard

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John is the founder and President of Frontera Marketing Group. A graduate of the University of Iowa, John had more than 20 years of professional experience in Sales and Marketing prior to founding FMG. His corporate background included a number of companies, industries and roles including National Account Manager, Product Manager, Brand Manager, Director of Trade Marketing, Director of Marketing and Vice-President of Marketing.

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