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Print Advertising Explained

These days, you will hear the term "print is dead" by so many experts in the advertising and marketing fields. While it's true that a lot of traditional communication materials are going digital, print is far from done. Just take a look at the magazine section in your supermarket, or how many books are sold on Amazon every day. Print is still very much alive; you just have to know how to utilize it, and get the most bang for you buck.


 

Definition:

If an advertisement is printed on paper, be it newspapers, magazines, newsletters, booklets, flyers, direct mail, or anything else that would be considered a portable printed medium, then it usually comes under the banner of print advertising. There are notable exceptions, when print dovetails into mediums like guerrilla advertising, or other Out Of Home (OOH) executions. 

It's hard to say exactly how old print advertising actually is. There are examples of printed pieces dating back to early Egyptian times. In 17 th century England, several different forms of advertisements appeared in newspapers and on handbills. But the general consensus is that print advertising as we know it today started life in 1836, when a French newspaper called La Presse charged for advertisements and lowered the price of the newspaper. This is the birth of commercial press.
 

Costs of Print Advertising

These vary greatly depending on the publication, circulation, number of insertions, quantities (if it is direct mail, flyers, handouts and so on), and a host of other factors.

Every publication you deal with has what is known as an Advertising Rate Card. Get to know this format well, it deals with everything from costs to specs for print.

If you have a low budget, you will find something to fit it. But you won't be getting major exposure from a local newspaper in a town that has 1000 residents.

A mass-circulated magazine, like those found at the checkout of the grocery aisle, will charge many thousands of dollars for one insertion. That goes up if it's a back cover, faux front cover, double page spread or center spread.

It's also common these days to do multiple insertions in one magazine. That also bumps the price up considerably.
 

Costs of Direct Mail Advertising

For direct mail, you are dealing with not just large volume printing costs, but also purchasing qualified lists. If you, for instance, are advertising for a new auto-repair shop, you want to send your mailing to people who own older cars. If you're advertising a new children's product, you want to send it to households with children. This information will cost you.

With direct mail, you will be looking for a good ROI (Return In Investment), and have to deal with the fact that a response rate of 1-2% is typical. That means you can only expect around 3 calls for every 100 mailings. And that's not a conversion rate either.

So, you will have to send out hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of mailings to get the kind of conversion rate you need to be successful.

Here's an example:

Your product costs $70. You want to sell $20,000 worth of that product. 

If you get really lucky, you'll get a 2% response rate.

With good sales people,you will close the sale on 33% of those people.

$70 x 33% x 2% = 0.46

20,000 divided by 0.46 = 43,478

That means you will need around 44,000 mailings to get your $20,000. But remember, those mailings cost money, and that figure doesn't include a profit. The overheads involved in making the product are also not accounted for. You will need to send out many more mailings to absorb the costs of printing and mailing and still make money. But as direct mail is still one of the most effective ways to reach a consumer, it can be done easily. If you make your direct mail exciting and fun to open, rather than a tacky piece of junk mail, you can achieve your business goals. 
 

The Future of Print Advertising

Sadly, it is dying out in favor or digital media. The iPad is quickly becoming known as the magazine killer, but it will take a while. And that means there are bargains to be had in the print advertising arena. Full page ads (known as insertions) that used to cost $12,000 are now going for a quarter of the price. The reason is simple. Less readers, lower rates.

The future of print advertising in magazines, newspapers and other forms of traditional print media looks fairly bleak. But direct mail, if done right, it still a very effective way to reach a consumer and grab their attention. Overall, print is not dead. Not yet. But you are reading this on a computer screen.

1
 What is an Advertising Rate Card?

Sample Rate Card Featuring rates, ad requirements, deadlines and contact information.
 Sample Rate Card.

A rate card is a document provided by a newspaper or other print publication featuring the organization's rate for advertising. It may also detail any deadlines, demographics, policies, additional fees and artwork requirements. The smaller the publication, the less information that may be available in the rate card.

Some larger newspapers may have a rate card for a particular kind of advertisement. They may have their rates broken down by classified ads, retail advertising and even national ad rates.

Rate cards help the retailer understand what types of ad sizes, discounts and other advertising the publication has to offer. When choosing a newspaper or print media, you can use rate cards to compare ad rates based on circulation before you buy advertising space.

Before placing an ad, be sure you understand the terms and conditions of advertising with the publication. In many cases where there may be a conflict between the insertion order and the rate card, the rate card will be the deciding factor. This does not mean the prices on the rate card are fixed. Most retailers will find the paper's sales rep will offer special rates for first time advertisers or other discounts.

If you're interested in advertising within a particular publication, check their website or call the office and ask for a copy of their current rate card. Many newspapers and magazines have their rate cards available online in a PDF format.

2
 Readership vs. Circulation

Atlanta Journal Constitution Ad Rate Card Circulation and Readership
 Atlanta Journal Constitution Ad Rate Card.

On most rate cards, the organization will show its coverage area, demographics and circulation. Some publications also list their readership. Circulation is the number of newspapers that are printed and distributed each day. Readership reflects the actual number of people who read those newspapers.

3
 ROP - Full Run of Paper

Atlanta Journal Constitution Ad Rate Card Full Run ROP
 Atlanta Journal Constitution Rate Card Sample.

Run of Paper

(ROP) usually means your advertisement can appear in any location within the newspaper. With some papers, display ads may not appear in the classified section. If you plan to advertise infrequently during the year you may choose to purchase your space at the open rate. If you plan to advertise more often, you will want to sign a contract.

4
 Frequency Discounts On Display Ad Rates

Red Bluff Daily News Rate Card Display Rates Frequency Discounts
 Red Bluff Daily News Rate Card.

A frequency discount is a contract rate offering one of the best discounts for display ads. The best committment is usually running a minimum size ad each and every week for a 52-week period. Some newspapers also have shorter periods such as 13 and 26-week contracts.

5
 Open Rates and Bulk Space Contracts

The Jefferson Reporter Rate Card Contract Rates
 The Jefferson Reporter Rate Card Contract Rates.

Publishers offer an open rate without discounts. This is the rate that you would be charged for running a single, one-time advertisement. This is sometimes referred to as the non-contract rate.



A discount offered for an advertising commitment to a certain number of ads within a specified time period, is called a Bulk Space Contract. For example, if you agree to place 300 inches of advertising in the newspaper within the next year, your per inch rate would be lower than if you ran one ad one time that year.

6
 Display Advertising Mechanical Measurements

York News-Times Rate Card Mechanical Measurements
 York News-Times Rate Card.

There may be some variation in measuring ad space in different publications. Here are the definitions of column inch, standard advertising unit and pica.

Column Inch: Display advertising's primary space measurement. This is generally one column wide by one inch deep. it may vary by publication.

Standard Advertising Unit (SAU): Ad size formats that may be accepted in different daily newspapers. This standard was created to make it easier for a large advertiser to place the same ad in many different newspapers without adjusting the ad to different column specifications.

Pica: A typographic unit of measurement: 12 points = 1 pica or 1/6” (0.166”), and 6 picas = 1” (or 0.996”).

7
 Calculating Display Ad Rates Per Column Inch

Calculating Display Ad Rates Diagram Per Column Inch
 Calculating Display Ad Rates.

When calculating the rates for a display ad, determine the number of column inches in an ad. Multiply the number of columns wide by the number of inches deep.

__# of columns x __# vertical inches x __rate per inch
= ___ total ad price

In our example, this business card size ad in our diagram is 3 columns by 2 inches (6 total column inches). If the newspaper's columns measure 1 3/8" then we can assume this ad is 3 3/8" wide by 2" deep. The open rate is $8.00 per column inch, which is 6 column inches x $8.00 for an ad total of $48.

8
 Advertising Page Layout With Ad Sizes

Ad Sizes Diagram For Specialty Newspapers, Magazines and other Display Ads
 Ad Sizes Diagram.

Not all rate cards use per column inch to calculate advertising rates. Many specialty newspapers and magazines offer certain rates based on pre-calculated ad sizes. Here are a few 

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