What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Local Newspaper Advertising?

by Neil Kokemuller; Updated September 26, 2017

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 online messaging offsets some of these limitations.

Newspaper Advantages

Affordability - As of March 2015, two-thirds of money spent on newspaper advertising occurs at the local level, according to Mansi Media. This fact illustrates that local newspaper advertising is an affordable opportunity for small businesses. 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 range from around $600 for an eighth of a page to $1,399 for one-third page ads. Half or full page ads are more. The Concord Monitor notes that newspaper ads are less expensive than TV, direct mail or radio, other common media used by local companies.

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. While print newspaper circulation has plateaued to some extent, media companies offer print and online ad combinations that allow for broad local exposure. Mansi Media reported that almost 147 million Americans reported having read a newspaper within the past week in a March 2015 survey.

Targeted geographic selectivity - Local companies typically target local geographic markets as opposed to niche demographic-based customer bases. This target makes newspapers one of the most efficient ways to connect with a wide community of people. Publications in cities and metro areas often have tens or hundreds of thousands of subscribers. New York's Metro daily newspaper has nearly 600,000 subscribers, according to The Public Relations and Marketing Group. Combined with affordable rates, this readership contributes to a relatively low cost per exposure.

Newspaper Disadvantages

The newspaper industry is in flux as of April 2015. 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:

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.

Short life - 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, according to Creative Consultants. 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.

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.