Magazines, along with newspapers, are the prominent print media used by advertisers to reach specific audiences. Magazine ads can be pricey for small businesses, but they do offer a highly targeted and interested audience. This can make them a more efficient advertising option relative to other less costly media.


The most basic element of a magazine ad is that the medium is print. Because of this, the message is static, unlike messages conveyed by radio or television commercials. In theory, target customers can read a magazine ad multiple times and for indefinite lengths of time in each exposure. Print ads do lack the dynamic, storytelling capabilities of broadcast media, and this lack must be overcome with strong copy and visual stimulation.

Copywriting vs. Visual

Magazine ads most often include a balance of written copy and visual imagery. Written text conveys specific benefits of a brand or product or presents the value proposition with clarity. Visual images attract reader attention, help set the tone for the message and contribute to the overall strategy of laying out product benefits. Some ads use lots of copy to explain complex products, while others use little to no copy and rely on visuals to make a memorable impression on readers.


Magazine ads are strewn about magazines in most cases. A common criticism of magazines -- and of newspapers -- is the hyper clutter of advertising that can overwhelm readers, making it difficult for a given ad to stand out. An advertiser has one of two options for her ad: a preferred position or a run of placement position. Preferred positions include spaces near the front, near the back cover and near featured stories. These ads cost more. Run of placement ads cost less than preferred-position ads, because the publication has flexibility in where the ad is placed.

Pros and Cons

Relative to other print media ads and ads in other media formats, magazine ads offer strong visual presentation due to the use of glossy pages and full color spreads. Magazine ads typically draw relatively high audience interest if they're placed in a specialized publication with a niche audience. On the downside, magazine ads are relatively expensive compared to newspaper ads, and placement requires a four to six week lead time, which impacts the timeliness of a message.