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The Ultimate Guide to Print Advertising

Print advertising still holds the potential to reach and engage audiences with significant influence and purchasing power. This medium has also proven to be a great sales converter when used as part of an integrated media strategy. But how can you take advantage of it? In order for print advertising to be effective, a few key considerations are necessary:

  • What makes a great print ad?
  • What are the various ad formats available and the best way to plan and buy space?
  • What are the costs involved with creating and placing ads?

In this ultimate guide, we’re going to unpack print advertising and provide insight on how to get the most out of the channel.


What is Print Advertising?

Print advertising is one of the oldest advertising mediums there is. It is a form of advertising that uses physically printed media, such as magazines and newspapers, to reach consumers. Contrary to popular belief that print is dead, print is still very much alive, reinventing itself as a medium by integrating with digital marketing and advertising to offer a broader, holistic way to reach customers through editorial content.


What are the Different Types of Print Advertising?

As the medium has evolved over time, more options and innovative formats have come to exist beyond the traditional newspaper ad. There is a form of print advertising for any size business or objective, let’s explore below.


Newspapers are the most popular form of print media advertising and the most inexpensive way to reach a huge mass of people. Different newspapers cater to different audiences and can be found at various stores or delivered directly to residential homes. When advertising in a newspaper you choose your ad size based on what you can afford, as well as which section of the paper you want your ad to be placed, for example; the sports, news, lifestyle, or finance section.


One of the best ways to reach a lifestyle-focused audience is through magazine ads. Magazines are glossy, with aesthetic images, aspirational stories, and high quality editorial. Advertising in a magazine may cost more than a newspaper but they are a great way to target certain market segments.


A brochure, which is also known as a pamphlet, is an information booklet or leaflet, usually much smaller than a magazine in size, and is generally used as a takeaway for the consumer to keep the brand in the mind of the audience. They usually consist of two to three-fold glossy sheets with imagery and necessary information about the product or service as well as the necessary contact information. This type of print medium is generally distributed at events such as expos, pop up stores, or permanent stores.


Advertorials are advertisements interjected into editorial content, the content matches the rest of the media in form and style so that they don’t look like an ad in an obvious manner. Advertorials help a brand to leverage off of the connection that the magazine has already established with its audience, and they have one specific purpose; to build authority and credibility with a reader.


Is Print Advertising Still Effective?

According to Neilson, an information data and measurement firm, print is still the largest contributor to shopper engagement, and they use the medium to look for product sales and promotions. 68% of retailers said that print is a critical medium in their strategy, meaning they have and still are seeing the benefits of print in the success of their business.

Print media is still trusted for critical news and information, particularly amongst middle age segments up. It is also still a highly circulated form of media in developing markets.

When you read a print publication, you’re not easily distracted like you are when you’re reading an article online and are simultaneously checking your social media accounts and your email. You’re giving your full attention to a print article.

How Effective is Print Advertising compared to other methods?

In order to know whether or not your print ad campaign was effective, you’re going to want to find out if the campaign caused any of these key statistics: Sales, phone calls and/ or organic website traffic spike.
These metrics will tell you whether or not there was an increase before and after the campaign went to print. Let’s go through ways you can track your print campaign:

  • Use unique tracking code or promo number
    The use of unique tracking codes or promo codes can be effective both online and offline. Including a promo code word or number in the print ad will allow you to track the sales that came from that specific promotion.
  • QR codes
    QR codes are a great way to track the reach of your print campaign and to send a consumer to a unique landing page that has UTM tracking (Urchin Traffic Monitoring). With mobile phone technology also making it possible for people to scan QR codes with their phones, this becomes an easy thing for consumers to engage with.
  • Set up a unique point of contact
    By directing all outreach to a single line of contact enables you to track the unique number of responses, as well as the sentiment. A good idea here would be the use of a single phone/SMS line.
  • Make use of unique social media hashtags
    By setting up social hashtags that are linked to the campaign, you are able to effectively track the success of the campaign and increase online engagement. These are commonly used across an integrated marketing campaign to track the reach.

Print Advertising Reach and Measurement

As we have just discussed, there are various ways to measure the effectiveness of your print campaign. Reach is one of the standard measurements of measuring media effectiveness, and when it comes to print there are two main contributors that impact reach; circulation and impressions.

  • Circulation
    Circulation is the total number of copies distributed or sold hard copies of a publication over a specific period of time.
  • Impressions
    Impressions are the possible number of people who will get the “opportunity to see,” your ad in a magazine or newspaper. Three things go into account: the medium; the audience; and the content. These elements all matter in how, when, and where the opportunity to see is presented.

Advantages of Print Advertising

When deciding on any advertising medium, considering the advantages and disadvantages is an important step to consider because you want to make sure that the medium will meet the goals and objectives of your advertising campaign. Let us have a look at some of the benefits and challenges of print advertising.

  • The element of trust and credibility
    According to a Nielson study, the older generation is not the only one who trusts ads that they can hold in their hands more than those of a digital nature, millennials still show high confidence in print advertising, even as they concurrently interact with digital advertising on the daily. Confidence in print remains high as 60% of respondents said they trust newspapers and 58% magazines. The purchaser’s confidence in print advertisements is still great, making it a good option in targeted campaigns.
  • Larger attention span
    Print readers are generally more engaged when reading a newspaper or a magazine. Reading is seen as leisure time, and pages through a newspaper or magazine medium you’re less likely to be distracted by notifications popping up on your mobile phone screen.
  • Print ads drive action
    If strategically coupled with digital advertising, print ads can help to successfully drive traffic to your website for conversions as well as creating further brand awareness.
  • More flexibility and options
    Print ads allow you to target your audience. You can choose exactly which section of the newspaper or magazine your audience is most likely to read. Apart from just placements, most print mediums now have a digital counterpart, so you’re able to leverage on that and create further avenues to reach your audience through their brand affinity.
  • Different functionalities
    Print ads help you establish your brand and visibility in ways online marketing doesn’t. They tend to live longer in homes unlike pop up ads which can easily be skipped, one may keep print mediums such as magazines for months, allowing the viewer to revisit the ad at a later stage.

Challenges of Print Advertising

  • Decreased popularity
    With the rise in digital, many consumers may opt to subscribing to their mailing list and receiving the news in their email or logging into the publications online platform.
  • Timing
    Because the process of print advertising isn’t a quick click of the button as digital, your ad campaigns need to be planned weeks, sometimes months in advance and you need to make sure that your message remains relevant for the time it goes to print.
  • Pay for your target market
    Higher-end publications have glossy covers, experienced writers, designers, photographers etc. This all takes a lot of money to maintain. Therefore, reaching your luxe target market may cost you, however, you’re guaranteed to reach them.

How to Advertise in Print

When you are thinking of adding print advertising to your marketing mix, be sure you aren’t just prepared to spend what you need to, but that you also have an idea of what to expect from the medium and how to best plan to ensure that your campaign is a success. Here are some pointers to consider:

  • Plan your ads in advance
  • Set your budget carefully
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your consumer when formulating your ad copy
  • Have design consistency to allow for instant recognition from your audience
  • Choose the newspaper/magazine that your audience purchases

Approaching an advertising agency can benefit you greatly in executing your print ad campaign and negotiating the best rates for your pocket. At Empire, we have years of industry experience in print advertising and we would be happy to work with you and take your brand to new heights.

How to Buy Print Advertising

When buying print advertising, one would normally contact the publication and ask for their rate card or media kit and compare prices with other publications to negotiate a better package for their budget. Let’s briefly go through some of the things you should discuss when purchasing print advertising

  1. Ask for their audience profile if this isn’t already included in the media kit
  2. What are the deadlines for ad placements
  3. Your ad specifications (size, positioning, colour etc)
  4. Ad frequency, the more ads you run the better chances of negotiating a good rate. 
  5. Ask about remnant space. These are spaces that need to be filled last minute and you can usually get them at a discounted rate.

Get Help From An Agency

Business owners are the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to their brand. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they know what works best with regard to advertising. As such it’s a good idea to seek out the help and advice of an agency. An agency will know just what to do to get the most out of your campaign. Contact Empire today.


What Does it Cost to Advertise in Print?

The cost of print advertising ultimately depends on your budget, as with any other form of advertising. However, aside from your budget, advertising costs are dependent on the publications themselves and their pricing structures.

When it comes to newspaper advertising there two main structures that you can keep in mind when looking into the cost of advertising in this particular form of print.

  • Price per column inch
    A column inch is a unit of space one column wide by 1 inch high, most full-page ads are measured as six columns x 21 inches, or 126 column inches.
  • Modular pricing
    Modular pricing is the more popular form of pricing when it comes to newspaper advertising.
    The price is based on set modules such as half page, quarter page, junior page, half page vertical, etc.

Let us take a further look into the various other factors that contribute to the costs in print advertising.


Factors Influencing Print Advertising Cost

As with any form of advertising, there are costs to be considered. A lot of the times various factors contribute to this cost and it is important to take each one into consideration if you want to make your dollar stretch further. Print advertising is seen as one of the cheaper forms of traditional advertising, but cheap is relative to one’s budget and affordability. Below are some of the things that one can consider when looking into the cost of print advertising.

  • Local or national publication
    The rates will differ depending on whether the publication has national coverage or local coverage. National coverage equals greater reach, which will come at a cost.
  • Regional rates
    Sometimes a national magazine has a regional edition that will obviously have a smaller readership than the national version of the magazine, but the advertising cost of the regional copy will also be less than a national one. If you are a small business with a niche offering, you may not necessarily need to advertise in a national magazine and you can save on some cash.
  • The format of your ad
    (Colour or black and white, image or copy, etc.) When it comes to the format of your ad, there are a number of things that can contribute to the bill, and you want to make sure that you aren’t going over the top with unnecessary creatives.
  • Size
    One of the most obvious factors when going into print advertising is the size of your ad. If your ad is going to take up a full page, it will cost more than an ad that takes up a quarter of a page.
  • Frequency
    Magazines will charge less per ad if you commit to running ads in more than one issue. For example, while it might seem hefty to pay $10000 at once for 5 ads, paying a one time cost of $3000 is actually more expensive.
  • Positioning
    As with any advertising medium, print has its prime advertising spaces. Positions such as the first few pages of the magazine or the inside of the front cover and the back cover will come at a higher cost than other pages.
print ad

What is an Example of a Good Print Ad?

Texture makes print advertisements more exciting and real. In fact, studies have shown that touch memory has the biggest impact on the human brain. Texturised print advertisements resonate more with customers and create long-lasting brand awareness. Think embossed prints, intricate foldings.

Incorporate digital to get the best engagement out of your print advertising. If you have a short-code and a landing page dedicated to the campaign, you are able to capture the reader’s information. From there, follow up with an email and other forms of online advertising and social media hashtags to keep your brand top of mind.

Offer something free by making use of cut out coupons to attract customers. Whether it’s a free consultation or 30% off your product offering, a coupon on print advertising is a sure way to get more attention. Here are some of the important things to keep in mind in order to achieve a good result:

  • Colour
    Colours evoke emotions, unlike the colour one would choose for their logo, advertisers use colours that stir up different feelings in the consumer. Here is an example of a print ad that makes good use of the colours red and yellow. Red induces excitement and yellow creates a sense of happiness and optimism.Adsoftheworld Wi-Fries_Print ads

McDonalds Wi-Fries Ad –

  • Direct gaze
    A great example of the direct gaze induction is most fragrance advertisements. It’s usually a prominent figure (in most cases a well-known celebrity) looking straight at the camera. In real life a direct gaze is a cue in social interaction and solid communication, and the same hypotheses stand here.
    print ads guide

    Elle Saab Print Ad via

  • Composition
    This is where you get to show off some creativity in a print ad, here is a great example from VW.
    creative print-advertising

    VW Print Ad via


How to Create a Print Advertisement

Now that we have gone over some of the things that make a good print ad, let’s talk about how to create a lasting impression with your print advertisement through visual cues.

Firstly, why is this important? When a business adds value or alters the state of mind of a consumer, you are more likely to have that experience entice brand loyalty and create a successful conversion. Purchases are usually driven by emotions, and through print advertising, you are able to encourage decisions through emotions. Let’s go over some checkpoints to go over when creating your print ad.

  • Make sure your logo is visible so that your audience can make the connection when they see other forms of advertising from your brand on other platforms such as television or digital.
  • Have a call to action (CTA) to encourage your audience to “do something” after seeing the ad.
  • Include information about your business such as contact details, address, and what service you offer.
  • Use supporting visual elements such as photos or graphics to make sure you stand out.
  • Make the most important information the main focus of your ad.
  • Less is more, keep your print advertisements simple, clear and concise. 
  • Make use of the space wisely.
  • Give careful consideration to the typography and keep your text simple and authentic. 
  • Use contrasting colours, add colours with psychology behind them to evoke emotions from your audience. 
  • Read and review. Make sure that your print makes sense when you are reading it out loud and that the visual tells your message clearly. 

Why Hire a Professional Advertising Company

Hiring an advertising agency can be advantageous as they come with a host of experience in dealing with rate negotiations, the creative aspect of the ad including copywriting and graphic designing. The agency can also better track the success of your ad campaign and offer suggestions on where to improve if the need arises. Empire has a proven track record of assisting brands through print advertising around the globe. Ready to chat about your next campaign? Reach out to contact us today.

Online Publications vs Traditional Print Publications

Difference between Online and Print Publications

There is a huge audience that still prefers print media. Print advertising works differently to digital advertising, these ads help you establish your brand and visibility in ways online marketing doesn’t. Readers interact with print advertisements on a more personal level, as print ads are tangibly felt and often looked at longer than digital ones. Online publications can however enhance your print ads when used concurrently, and they can spread your reach to the more digitally inclined audience.

Difference between Online and Print Publications

  • Digital is cluttered with pop up ads, making the viewer weary to click on just any ad particularly with the risks of cyber hacking and other forms of digital viruses. Whereas with print, the only attacks your magazine or newspaper may face are those from your dog. Making print and the ads found in print mediums a lot more trustworthy.
  • With the focus moving to digital, the print competition is decreasing, meaning you won’t get lost in the congestion and your ads get to shine. You are more likely to manage to negotiate a good advertising rate as a result of the common misconception that print media is dead.
  • Because magazines and newspapers offer a longer lifespan in the homes of consumers, the likelihood of your ad reaching family and friends of the magazine/newspaper purchaser is higher, whereas with digital is the audience doesn’t share the ad in that particular moment, the ad can get lost in online, and it’s unlikely that one would go searching for it again.

Your International Partner in Print advertising

If you’re looking to expand your reach across print advertising, our expert team knows what makes these campaigns successful. Empire has successfully helped many business owners reach their intended audience and gain new customers with the use of this medium.