For any business, advertising is a vitally important method of marketing goods and services to the public. Although there are many advertising venues, print advertising in magazines sold through subscription and on the news stands is one of the most popular. Advertising rates vary with each magazine; however, a prospective advertiser must become familiar with the magazine's particular market and its success in attracting a loyal, regular audience.

The Magazine Ad Market

Magazine publishers set advertising rates, which follow a market like any other good or service. The wider the audience, the higher the advertising rates that can be charged. Advertisers should also remember that rates can be open to negotiation. Magazines will give discounted rates for multiple “buys;” one-time ads cost the most, while the lowest rates are charged to those who will commit to a full year of advertising.

Ad Specifications

Magazines offer advertising space according to the type of ad – display or classified – whether color is used, and the amount of room the ad takes up on the page. A full-page display ad, in color, is the most expensive, while half-pages and quarter pages are also available. Magazine columns are measured in inches, and an advertising running the width of a single column is sold by the column inch. Two-page spreads are also available.


Advertisers can also reserve premium positions, such as the back cover, the inside front cover and the inside back cover. These positions are always full-page ads, color ads and cost a premium because it is understood they will be viewed by more people. The higher the general circulation of the magazine, the higher the rates. For example, a full-page, four-color cover ad in Vanity Fair will run about $212,000. For a one-third page, four-color ad, the rate is about $70,000, as of 2011. If you are using an ad agency, the magazine will pay a commission out of this "gross" rate to the agency.


Magazines offer discounts for advertising that is submitted in electronic form that is complete and ready for printing. They charge extra fees if their own art departments have to compose and prepare the ad to the advertiser’s specifications. Advertisers or their agencies must submit the text, photography, logos, and art work.

Extras and Miscellaneous

Magazines charge extra for various extras and miscellaneous features, such as the folding pages known as gatefolds, scent strips and bound-in inserts. Rates are available by requesting a media kit directly from the publisher, or accessing the rates at the magazine's web site. There are also websites that provide comprehensive information on current advertising rates through a searchable, hyperlinked index.