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With newspaper ads, like with TV media campaigns, an advertiser casts an awfully wide net with hopes of scooping up a few fish. Understandably, hitting one half million consumers Friday morning–before buyers are planning their weekend errands–can cost quite a bit of money. Purchasing the right ad spaceLarger dimensions, color, main section, etc., from a conversion standpoint, will tug at your wallet even more. Where in the paper & with what message are you going to get the most bang for your buck (lowest cost per conversion)? Half page? Full? Color? Display a coupon? What call to action? QR Code, maybe?

Even still, will the impressions made and the values of those impressions mean converting enough to break-even against the high cost of print advertising?

The areas worth paying top dollar for are:

Full Page

This is your standard, top-to-bottom, not-sharing-my-add-with-anybody-except-for-that-guy-on-the-other-side-of-the-centerfold type run.

Double Truck

Want more? The double truck is your centerfold in the main section type ad. Left or right side, doesn’t matter. Like a boss, your ad covers the whole lot. This ad will cover twice the space of a full-page at about 1.8x the cost.

54” Inch Wrap (“Spadea Fold”)

One of my personal favorites—-an ad centered around content. This ad will likely be centered in a full page with margin around the top, side & bottom. Wrapping the image ad will often be the continuation of an article that started on another page. The article creates more users that, at the very least, half-consciously engage with your ad during their minute of reading. These wrap ads will typically cost a bit more than full pages, but less than double trucks.

Always in the main section. Printed ads outside of the main section receive less buyer eyes at disproportionally cheaper price (ie. considerably less eyeballs for not a considerably less price). The exception to this rule of course is for price-point retailers & strong coupon ads. Like the comics section of the newspaper, coupons and price-point advertising is a destination point. If your business specializes in selling Steinway Pianos, no price-point ad is going to do the trick for you. In my humble opinion, if your budget means looking for a cheap, half-page, black-and-white ad deep in the paper, there are more creative ways to spend your $400.

Reach & Value

As always, first we’re going to look at cost per impression & value of an impression. Shopping for newspaper is distastefully similar to shopping for network TV advertising, except you’ll find the cost per impression, for a full-run, full-page, color ad, main section (for example) to be about half. This isn’t necessarily good though, mind you, since again, it all comes down to value of the impression.

How likely is a customer to make a purchase after being ‘reached’ against the cost of reaching that person?

The value of an impression is affected by demographic and geographic variables as well as effectiveness of the message. Would not the value of an impression made by a :30 second TV commerical on a well-eductated, upper-income, M50+ W50+Men Ages 50+ & Women Ages 50+ household for your Steinway Pianos be higher than for uneducated, lower-income, M18-24 W18-24Men Ages 18-24 & Women Ages 18-24? Would not your willingness-to-pay for that impression be more to reach the upper-income demographic considering your product? Would not your willingness-to-pay for that impression delivered through a visual & audible :30 second TV ad be more than for a black/white half page static ad deep in the newspaper?

Media Comparison

What does TV do that newspaper doesn’t? How about the opposite? Intuitively,

  1. I would expect running a :30 second commercial, in general, to leave a bit more lasting impression,
  2. I am able to display more dynamic visuals conveying my product or service, &
  3. Accompanying audio allows me to pitch my message devoid of text.

Even still, is an impression created through a :30 second TV ad twice as likely to create a conversion as a full page ad in your newspaper? Something to consider since the (cost of an ad)/(reach of that ad) is typically twice as much for TV as for Newspaper…

If you spend enough time with your newspaper salesperson, you’re going to hear thick pitches like “TV & radio numbers are down” and “people are using DVR’s to skip through commercials”

–(which is true) but don’t be the fool. Cost of advertising reflects current viewership & other competitors willingness to advertise (even considering things like the percentage of people that TIVO through commercials). In the end, who cares what media outlet reaches more since volume doesn’t matter–only cost as a function of volume. Besides, your TV and radio salesperson are going to just as likely tell you that newspaper readership is downwhich it is also..

Reach

Newspaper is a bit trickier in this regard because most newspaper reps will give you only the total ‘run’ amount of their paper (aka “we print a run of 500,000 papers). This doesn’t mean that the newspaper is actually reaching 500,000 households (& it certainly doesn’t mean that it’ll be read by 500,000 people). Many newspapers sit, instead, never opened in stands & convenient stores idly before being replaced after their 24 hour lifecycle. The true number ‘reached’ in newspaper is hard to figure out, even harder to measure, and probably even hardest to pry out of a newspaper salesperson (but then again, they probably don’t know themselves).

The Numbers

Let’s say, for starters, we want to run 3 Fridays in the month, full-run, “double-truck” in the main section (you’ll see me often emphasis the importance of frequency and reaching a potential client 3x times).

We’re going to acquire a reach of 1,500,000 in this instance, which also means we’re probably going to pay roughly $17,000 for the three ads. Cost per impression is at 1.13¢ per impression.

What are we selling? How about cars? Perfect. Let say we’re a medium-end new-car dealership that makes, on average, $1,500 off initial purchase after COGS and then another $1,500 through financing, making our average ticket $3k. How many people need come through our doors to break even?

The Math

Our assumptions: Assume 3% of consumers are “in the market” for cars, our dealership has a 10% closing rate, & 15% of our newspaper full-run ads sit in stands at convenient stores:

[(1,500,000 full-run)*(100% – 15% less waste)*(3% in market)*( X variable through-traffic)*(10% closing rate)*($3,000 average variable profit dollars)] – ($17,000 Cost of Advertising) = 0

X = 0.148% through traffic to break even

That’s 1 in 600 people who see your two-page ad in the local newspaper need to be moved enough by your message that they actually make it to your dealership.

Possible? Hard to say. This is often where you use your common sense judgment and research whatever stats you can pick up. As always, if “wide-reach” advertising initially only breaks even, it’s still worth advertising. The residual TOMA and brand recognition will turn pennies into dollars later.

PPC

Let’s say now, in lieu of newspaper advertising, you spent that same $17,000 in advertising on Google Adwords and Yahoo! + Bing’s Adcenter. You’d be bidding on keywords like “new cars in [insert city]” and on keywords like “[insert city] car dealership”.

These people are laser targeted and are actively looking for local dealers to shop for new cars. The question is: How many of them can you put your name in front of?

Analytics tell me that you could easily drop $2-4/click in a medium competitive market like that of automobiles. So then, how many clicks can $17,000 buy you, let’s say, at a long-run average of $3/click?

The Math

($17,000 in advertising) / ($3/click) =

5,666 clicks.

If only 5% of these website visitors actually like what you have to offer, & therefore decide to make your dealership one of the ten dealers they visit on their “day out”, what then is your ROI?

(5,666 site visitors)(5% through traffic)(10% closing ratio)($3,000 dollar margin/sale) =

$84,990.

Less $17,000 Cost of Advertising:

$67,990 Gross Profit Dollars.