Selling advertising space in magazines presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Advertisers can target a specific niche audience and publishers can entice them with a number of value-added options. Unlike television viewers, magazine readers can look at ads as long as they wish, and ads can be seen repeatedly. Pass-along readership also givers the ads a longer "shelf life" than those in newspapers or posted online. Still, numerous options for advertisers intensifies competition for ad dollars. Those selling magazine ads must be more creative and flexible -- and more aggressive.

Making Your Pitch

Create a media kit in digital and print formats that can be distributed to potential advertisers, including ad agencies. Detail the magazine's editorial focus and the demographics of its readership. Include circulation figures that have been verified by the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Many publishers offer an editorial calendar that outlines topics that will be covered in future editions. Commission a graphic design specialist to ensure the media kit has a polished, professional look.

List the price of the ads on a rate card. Set rates based on factors such as circulation, production and distribution costs, and ad rates charged by competitors. Encourage advertisers to run their ads in multiple issues by offering frequency discounts. The rate card should be inserted into the media kit. This will afford the publisher flexibility to adjust prices as needed without reproducing the entire media kit. Offer established ad agencies a 15 percent discount.

Develop value-added incentives. Advertisers that contract for full pages in multiple issues should have first crack at inside covers and other premium positions, or a "belly-band" ad wrapped around the publication. Polybag promotions let advertisers include a product sample or a catalog in a sealed package with the magazine. A publication's companion website can run ads at no additional cost. Free-standing inserts are another option.

Look for new advertisers with an eye toward fostering long-term relationships. Target the competitors of the your publication's established advertisers or companies whose ads regularly run in rival publications. Learn about the category in which perspective advertisers compete and discuss with them strategies to increase their market share. Stress that advertising is an investment that will build brand recognition and increase profits. If a future issue is devoted to health and nutrition, for example, target companies in that category well in advance.

Overcome objections. If cost is a barrier, suggest a small ad that features a discount coupon or other consumer incentives. This will enable the advertiser to track business generated by the ad. If there is no suitable print ad ready for placement, ask the publication's art department to create one. Sell them on the concept of a marketing partnership that goes beyond publishing their ad. Successful ad salespeople are found of saying, "The sale begins with the word 'no.' "


Regularly run house ads designed to attract advertisers.

Obtain the media kit and rate card from competing publications.

Establish complimentary subscriptions for all regular advertisers.

Offer an online version of the magazine that requires readers to summit their email address. Provide advertisers with this information.


Companies can be alienated if their ad appears adjacent to a competitor.

Allowing editorial decisions to be dictated by advertisers can diminish the publication's credibility.