Deciding on the Right Advertising Media

April 1, 2014 By: Plan B Promotions

In today’s fast-paced, high-tech age, businesses have to use some form of advertising to make prospects aware of their products and services. Advertising is an investment in the future of your business. And like any investment, it’s important to find out as much as you can before you make a decision.


Every advertising medium has characteristics that give it natural advantages and limitations. As you look through your newspaper(s), you’ll notice some businesses that advertise regularly. Observe who they are and how they advertise their products and services. More than likely, their advertising investment is working if it’s selling!

Some Advantages in Newspaper Advertising

Almost every home receives a newspaper, either by newsstand or home delivery. Reading the newspaper is a habit for most families. And, there is something for everybody: sports, comics, crosswords, news, classifieds, etc. You can reach certain types of people by placing your ad in different sections of the paper. People expect advertising in the newspaper. In fact, many people buy the paper just to read the ads from the supermarket, movies or department stores.

Unlike advertising on TV and radio, advertising in the newspaper can be examined at your leisure. A newspaper ad can contain details, such as prices and telephone numbers or coupons.

There are many advantages to advertising in the newspaper. From the advertiser’s point-of-view, newspaper advertising can be convenient because production changes can be made quickly, if necessary, and you can often insert a new advertisement on short notice. Another advantage is the large variety of ad sizes newspaper advertising offers. Even though you may not have a lot of money in your budget, you can still place a series of small ads, without making a sacrifice.

Newspaper advertising also has the ability to target locally.

Some Disadvantages with Newspaper Advertising

Advertising in the newspaper offers many advantages, but it is not without its inherent disadvantages, such as:

1. Newspapers usually are read once and stay in the house for just a day.

2. The print quality of newspapers isn’t always the best, especially for photographs. So use simple artwork and line drawings for best results.

3. The page size of a newspaper is fairly large and small ads can look minuscule.

4. Your ad has to compete with other ads for the reader’s attention.

5. You’re not assured that every person who gets the newspaper will read your ad. They may not read the section you advertised in, or they may simply have skipped the page because there wasn’t any interesting news on it.

Here are some other things to remember:

1. Newspaper circulation drops on Saturdays and increases on Sundays, which is also the day a newspaper is read most thoroughly.  (weekday publications also offer various benefits and increased circulation and reach)

2. Position is important, so specify in what section you want your ad to appear. Sometimes there’s a surcharge for exact position…but don’t be afraid to pay for it if you need it.

3. Request an outside position for ads that have coupons. That makes them easier to cut out.

4. If a newspaper is delivered twice daily (morning/evening), it often offers “combination” rates or discounts for advertising in both papers, You usually can reach more readers, so this kind of advertising may be something to consider.


Many of the same “print” type principles, which apply to newspaper advertising also, apply to magazine advertising. The biggest differences are:

¨      Advertising messages are more image-oriented and less price-oriented.

¨      The quality of the pictures and paper are superior to newsprint.

¨      Advertisements involve color more often.

The general rule that you can run the same ad 3-5 times within a campaign period before its appeal lessens applies to magazine advertising as well, even with a monthly publication. So it makes sense to spend extra time and money to prepare a worthwhile ad that can be successfully repeated. Over long terms such as these, however, be aware that the client (you) often tire of the ad before the audience does.

Because ads in magazines are not immediate, they take more planning. Often, an ad for a monthly magazine must be prepared at least a month in advance of publication, so ads detailing prices and items have to be carefully crafted to insure accuracy.

Since the quality of the magazines is superior, the advertising that you generate must be superior as well. Consider getting assistance from a graphic artist or an advertising agency.

There are two categories of magazines: trade magazines and consumer magazines. Trade magazines are publications that go to certain types of businesses, services and industries. Consumer magazines are generally the kind you find on the average newsstand. Investigate which type would do your business the most good.

An agency can also purchase the magazine space for you, often at no charge, because the magazine pays the agency a commission directly. If you wish to purchase the advertising yourself, contact the magazine directly and ask for an “Ad Kit” or “Media Package.” They will send you a folder that includes demographic information, reach information, a current rate card and a sample of the publication.

Although most magazines are national in nature, many have regional advertising sections that allow your business to look like it purchased a national ad when it only went to a certain geographical area.

This can be especially useful if your product or service is regional in nature as well and could not benefit from the magazines complete readership.  Each magazine does this differently, so contact the one(s) you are interested in and ask them about their geographic editions.  Some sophisticated magazines even have demographic editions available, which might also be advantageous.


Since its inception, radio has become an integral part of our culture. In some way, it touches the lives of almost everyone, every day. Radio, as a medium, offers a form of entertainment that attracts listeners while they are working, traveling, relaxing or doing almost anything.  A farmer, for example, may listen to the radio while he is having breakfast or plowing his field.  People driving to work often listen to the radio.  Radio offers information such as: news, weather reports, traffic conditions, advertising and music for your listening pleasure.

What Are Some of the Good Things About Radio?

Radio is a relatively inexpensive way of reaching people.  It has often been called the “theater of the mind” because voices or sounds can be used to create moods or images that if crested by visual effects would be impossible to afford.

You can also negotiate rates for your commercials, or even barter. Stations are often looking for prizes they can give away to listeners, so it’s possible to get full commercial credit for the product or service you offer.

Advantages to radio advertising include:

The ability to easily change and update scripts are paramount to radio broadcasting, since news stories can and often do happen live.

Radio is a personal advertising medium. Station personalities have a good rapport with their listeners. If a radio personality announces your commercial, it’s almost an implied endorsement.

Radio is also a way to support your printed advertising. You can say in your commercial, “See our ad in the Sunday Times,” which makes your message twice as effective.

What are Some Limitations to Radio Advertising?

Radio advertising is not without its disadvantages too, such as:

You can’t review a radio commercial. Once it plays, it’s gone. If you didn’t catch the entire message, you can’t go back and hear it again.  (online acts as a supporting role and complimentary mix)

Since there are a lot of radio stations, the total listening audience for any one station is just a piece of a much larger whole. That’s why it’s important to know what stations your customers and prospects probably listen to. Therefore, most of the time, you’ll have to buy time on several radio stations to reach the market you are after.

People don’t listen to the radio all the time…only during certain times of day. So, it’s important to know when your customers or prospects are listening. For example, if you want to reach a large portion of your audience by advertising during the morning drive time, you’ll have to specify that time period to the radio station when you buy the time.

One of the most popular times to reach people is during Drive Times (typically from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.)  It’s called that because most people are going to or from work during this period, and because most people listen to their radio when they drive.  Unfortunately, radio stations know that this is a favorite time to advertise, so commercial costs are much higher during this time.

Radio as a broadcasting medium, can effectively sell an image…or one or two ideas at the most.  It is not, however, a detailed medium…and is a poor place for prices and telephone numbers.

Radio listeners increase in the spring and summer, contrary to television audiences that increase in the fall and winter and decrease in the summer. This is an important aspect to consider when you are choosing advertising media.


Television is often called “king” of the advertising media, since a majority of people spends more hours watching TV per day than any other medium. It combines the use of sight, color, sound and motion…and it works. TV has proven its persuasive power in influencing human behavior time and time again. But it’s also the “king” of advertising costs.

Advantages in Television Advertising

Television reaches very large audiences-audiences that are usually larger than the audience your city’s newspaper reaches.

Some advantages of television advertising include the following:

1. Advertising on television can give a product or service instant validity and prominence.

2. You can easily reach the audiences you have targeted by advertising on TV. Children can be reached during cartoon programming, housewives during the afternoon soap operas for example.

3. TV offers the greatest possibility for creative advertising. With a camera, you can take your audience anywhere and show them almost anything.

4. Since there are fewer television stations than radio stations in a given area, each TV audience is divided into much larger segments, which enables you to reach a larger, yet, more diverse audience.

Disadvantages in Television Advertising

Because TV has such a larger audience, the stations can charge more for commercials based on the larger number of viewers reached.

The cost of television commercial time is based on two variables:

1. The number of viewers who watch the program.

2. The time during the day the program airs.

One 30 second television commercial during prime time viewing (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) can cost 10 to 30 times more than one radio spot during drive time (which is considered prime listening time).

While the newspaper may cover the city’s general metropolitan area, TV may cover a good portion of the region/province where you live. If such coverage blankets most of your sales territory, TV advertising may be the best advertising alternative for your business.

Producing a commercial is also an important variable to consider. On the whole, television audiences have become more sophisticated and have come to expect quality commercials. A poorly produced commercial could severely limit the effectiveness of your message, and may even create a bad image in your customer’s mind.

Advertising agencies or TV commercial production facilities are the best organizations for creating a commercial that will be effective for the goods or service you are offering. But the cost of a well-produced commercial is often more expensive than people think. Some TV stations will claim they can put together commercials for “almost nothing.” Before agreeing to this, find out what “almost nothing” means. Then, determine if the commercial quality and content they are proposing will represent your firm’s image.

Plan B Promotions Inc. can help you produce a custom tailored commercial to suit your business needs, on budget!

Many companies use the station’s commercial production facilities for creating “tag lines” on pre-produced commercials. Often, the station will help you personalize the spot for little or no cost…if you advertise with them. Remember, more than anything else, when it comes to making a TV commercial, you get what you pay for. And when you’re buying commercial time, it makes sense to have the best sales presentation possible.

Remember, like radio, the message comes and goes…and that’s it. The viewer doesn’t see your commercial again unless you buy more placements.

Creativity: A Vital Element

When you advertise on TV, your commercial is not only competing with other commercials, it’s also competing with the other elements in the viewer’s environment as well.

The viewer may choose to get a snack during the commercial break, go to the bathroom or have a conversation about what they just saw on the show they were viewing. Even if your commercial is being aired, viewers may never see it unless it is creative enough to capture their attention. That’s why it’s so important to consider the kind of commercial you are going to create…and how you want your audience to be affected. Spending money on a good commercial in the beginning will pay dividends in the end.

Don’t Use TV Unless Your Budget Allows

Attempting to use TV advertising by using a poorly-produced commercial; buying inexpensive late night commercial time that few people watch; or just placing your commercial a couple times on the air will guarantee disappointing results. To obtain positive results from TV advertising you must have enough money in your budget to:

1. Pay for the cost of producing a good TV commercial.

2. Pay for effective commercial time that will reach your viewer at least 5-7 times.

Properly done, television advertising is the most effective medium there is. But it is big league advertising…and you shouldn’t attempt it unless you have enough money in your budget to do it right!

Contact Plan B Promotions Inc. for production and media buying estimates!


When people think of Outdoor Advertising, they usually think of the colorful billboards along our streets and highways. Included in the “outdoor” classification, however, are benches, posters, signs and transit advertising (the advertising on buses, subways, taxicabs and trains).  They are all share similar advertising rules and methods.

Outdoor advertising reaches its audience as an element of the environment.  Unlike newspaper, radio or TV, it doesn’t have to be invited into the home.  And it doesn’t provide entertainment to sustain its audience.

Some Outdoor Advantages

Since it is in the public domain, Outdoor Advertising assuredly reaches its audience.  People can’t “switch it off” or “throw it out.”  People are exposed to it whether they like it or not.  In this sense, outdoor advertising truly has a “captured audience.”

Its messages work on the advertising principle of “frequency.”  Since most messages stay in the same place for a period of a month or more, people who drive by or walk past see the same message a number of times.

Particular locations can be acquired for certain purposes.  A billboard located a block in front of your business can direct people to your showroom.  Or you can reach rural areas efficiently by placing a billboard in each small town.

Outdoor advertising is an excellent adjunct to other types of advertising you are doing.  In fact, it is most effective when coupled with other media.

Some Outdoor Disadvantages

Outdoor advertising is a glance medium.  At best, it only draws 2-3 seconds of a reader’s time.

Messages must be brief to fit in that 2-3 second time frame.  Ninety-five percent of the time, either the message or the audience is in motion.

The nature of the way you have to buy outdoor advertising (usually a three month commitment) is not conducive to a very short, weeklong campaign.

When you buy outdoor advertising, remember that location is everything. High traffic areas are ideal.  A billboard in an undesirable area will do you little good. Keep your message concise (use only five to seven words) and make it creatively appealing to attract readership. Few words, large illustrations (or photos), bold colors and simple backgrounds will create the most effective outdoor advertising messages.


What makes “direct” mail different than regular mail? Nothing. It’s just a way the advertising world describes a promotional message that circumvents traditional media (newspaper, radio, TV) and appeals directly to an individual consumer. Usually through the mail, but other carriers also participate.

Direct mail may be used more than you think.  Studies indicate that it is the third largest media expenditure behind television and newspaper.

Rules to Remember

Define your audience.  Figure out whom you want to reach before developing your direct mail program.  This allows you to specifically target your message to fit common needs.  It is the best advertising medium for “tailoring” your appeal.

Locate the right mailing list.  You can either build a “house list” by doing the research yourself and compiling the information on a computer – or you can purchase an “outside list” from a list house or mailing organization already pre-prepared and ready to go.

There are many ways to purchase lists.  You can buy them demographically (by age, profession, habits or business), or geographically (by location, or postal code).  Or you can by a list with both qualities.

Consider using a self-addressed reply card or envelope to strengthen return.  Use a Business Reply Postage Number on the envelope and you’ll only pay for the cards which are sent back to you.

The blessing (or curse) of direct mail is that there are no set rules for form or content.  The task of deciding what your mailing should have as content, its design and its message(s) is up to you.  However, remember to attract the reader’s attention with color and creativity.  Use clear, comfortable writing and make your appeal easy to respond.

And of course, coordinate the mailing with other advertising media if you are also using them in the same campaign.  It can significantly increase the potential return.

Always remember that advertising is an investment in the future of your business, and there’s always a Plan B!

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