What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Local Newspaper Advertising?

Newspaper advertising is a prominent form of marketing communication because it offers an affordable, timely way to reach a local geographic market. Primary drawbacks of newspaper ads include limited creative opportunities and a short life, though pairing with online messaging offsets some of these limitations. Understanding newspaper advertising advantages and disadvantages will help you decide which media options to use while marketing your company.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Be sure to check with the local newspaper options in your region for circulation numbers, reach of audience and creative opportunities for ad design and additional online placement.

Advantage: Affordability

Although more and more Americans are looking toward digital outlets for entertainment and even news, they still desire a local connection for information about the places that are not covered in larger papers. This is one of the key benefits of local newspaper advertising because it provides an affordable opportunity for small businesses to reach local customers.

Per-ad rates vary based on size, location, use of color and circulation of the paper. In a large metro area like New York, single ads can cost into the thousands of dollars, particularly if you select a prime position. In contrast, newspaper ads in local papers often begin at $10 to $20 per column inch, resulting in an expense of only a few hundred dollars.

Advantage: Timeliness and Flexibility

You can have a newspaper ad prepared and delivered within a day or two in a pinch. This timeliness ensures that your message is current and relevant. Readers can refer to an ad they saw earlier in the day and reference information such as address, phone number or sale dates. Additionally, local advertisers can print tear out coupons, thereby motivating customers to take action.

Advantage: Targeted Geographic Selectivity

Local companies typically target local geographic markets as opposed to niche demographic-based customer bases. This targeting is one of the reasons for the effectiveness of local newspaper advertising, because advertisers can efficiently connect with a wide, yet local, community of people. Even while print newspaper circulation has plateaued to some extent, media companies offer print and online ad combinations that allow for this broad local exposure.

While publications in cities and metro areas often have tens or hundreds of thousands of subscribers, local papers will reach local customers who can connect with your business. Combined with affordable rates, this contributes to a relatively low cost per exposure.

Disadvantages of Local Market

The newspaper industry is in flux. Smaller print publications have died off in many communities, while other traditional papers are working to combine the advantages of print and online media options for their readers. In some cases, advertisers experience some uncertainty about the promotional benefits of newspapers, though successful multimedia publishers may offer greater advantages than traditional print alone.

Along with this uncertainty, drawbacks of local newspaper advertising include the following.

Disadvantage: Limited Creative Opportunities

Full color and online streaming have improved visual opportunities with newspaper advertising, but the creative peak of newspapers still pales relative to TV. Newspaper ads are static, meaning the reader doesn't get the benefit of movement, sound and multi-sensory appeal of TV. Also, the print quality of typical newspapers isn't as strong as that of prominent magazines.

Disadvantage: Short Lived

Print newspapers have a short life span, especially compared with magazines. In a home or business, it is normal that a paper is thrown out or recycled within one read or one day. Publishers with online opportunities can alleviate this drawback. However, advertisers working with small-town papers that have a limited online readership must accept this obstacle.

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About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.