There's some truth to the old adage that you have to spend money to make money, and some of that money needs to be spent on advertising. After all, it's hard to attract clients to your business if they don't know it exists. But it's important to use your advertising budget effectively and that means knowing where to advertise. Newspapers and websites are some of the most affordable places to advertise, and researching the advantages and disadvantages of news media and online advertising will help you select the option that's right for you.
Advantages of Advertising Online
Online advertising is great in that it lets you reach exactly the right audience. If you want to be seen by a widespread audience, it's hard for any form of advertising to reach around the globe as far or as quickly as internet ads. You'll need to select a site that has readers around the world to do this, but your reach is practically unlimited with online advertising. On the other hand, internet ads are unique because they allow you to be as specific as you want to be. Many companies offering online advertising, including Google and Facebook, will let you select incredibly niche markets to target. You can often choose to have your ad reach only men or women, only people of a select age, only people in a select zip code, only people of a certain race, etc. You can also choose a niche publication to target people with specific interests. For example, you could reach ferret owners in Dallas, Texas, if you found a website focused on that precise subject.
Another advantage of online advertising is that it's incredibly inexpensive. In fact, of all advertising media, including online, print, television, radio and billboards, internet advertising is perhaps the most affordable. You can even choose to pay based on how many people view your ad or how many people actually click on it. Other advertising options generally give you a flat rate based on how many people they expect to see the ad, but these numbers are never as accurate as they are online. Best of all, since you can narrow your ad to reach only your target customers, you're only paying for views from those you want to see your ad, not random people who happen to be watching a television program or walking by a bus bench.
In addition to letting you target specific people and being relatively inexpensive, online advertising also offers the benefit of highly accurate analytics so you can actually see how effective your advertising is. Online tracking means you can tell if people visit your website or not after seeing an ad and compare the effectiveness of your campaigns and ad placements. That's not an option with most other forms of advertising; after all, it's incredibly hard to tell how many people visited your location or website after viewing a billboard or listening to a radio ad.
Finally, internet ads can often be posted nearly instantaneously (depending on the site), so if time is of the essence and you need to put up your advertisement as soon as possible, you'll probably want to head online.
Disadvantages of Internet Advertising
One of the biggest drawbacks of online advertising is simply that people tend to overlook these ads more than they do other forms of advertising. There are so many ads online that many people filter them out mentally or with ad blocking software. Unfortunately, the prevalence of scams and other disreputable ads online have resulted in many people refusing to click on advertising even when it seems relevant to their interests.
Ad blockers also mean you may not be able to have your ad seen by the people you want to see it the most. While in most cases you won't be expected to pay a site when visitors use ad blockers, you'll not be able to reach these target customers either.
Finally, your ad will only be seen by those who use the internet, which means you may bypass certain groups of customers. This might not matter for some advertisers, say those targeting IT professionals, but it can be a big drawback for others, like those hoping to reach the elderly or impoverished.
Advantages of Newspaper Advertising
Newspaper and other forms of print advertising often stay in front of the viewer longer than other advertising options as the reader will remain on the page until they finish reading the article or articles they find interesting. This means that your ad will be looked at longer, as opposed to online ads that people skim over or actively block. Additionally, because people tend to trust their local paper more than they do a random website, consumers often pass that trust on to the advertisers on the page, meaning people are more likely to believe claims you make in a newspaper advertisement over an ad seen online.
Like the internet, newspapers allow you to target a particular group of consumers, although your options may be a little more limited and you won't be able to reach a worldwide audience in most cases. By nature, these publications are geographically targeted, but you can get far more specific if you chose to. For example, if you're hoping to reach local sports fans, you might choose to advertise in the newspaper's sports section. One of the advantages of online newspaper advertising is that you can partner it with print newspaper advertising in many cases, choosing to run a similar ad both on the paper's website and in the actual paper – even with regard to placement.
While newspaper advertising is a little more expensive than online advertising, the good news is that the paper offers many different options based on your budget. You can publish a massive full-page color ad or you can purchase a small listing in the classifieds section. If you can't afford to advertise in a city's main publication, you may be able to find a smaller neighborhood paper with even more affordable rates.
Although you can't get instantaneous results as you can online, the newspaper is the best physical advertising option for ads that you need to run as soon as possible. Newspapers often allow you to place an ad only a day or two ahead of its release, unlike a billboard, tv, radio or even magazine advertisement, all of which take time, often months, to prepare.
Disadvantages of Advertising in a Newspaper
The main drawback to advertising in a newspaper is that readership is drastically declining and has been doing so since papers started to go online around the turn of the millennium. This means fewer people will see your ad, and unfortunately, because the paper needs advertisements to survive, the price isn't likely to go down at a similar rate as the readership, meaning the cost per view may actually be increasing.
Newspapers also have a short shelf life compared to other print publications. While someone might read a magazine multiple times or even pass it along to a friend, most newspapers are read once and tossed, and many readers only read a handful of stories or sections they deem relevant to their lives. Of course, this isn't a problem compared to many online ads, which often only appear once before being cycled out for other ads.
Debate on Newspaper vs. Internet
As for which advertising option is better, the decision depends largely on the advertiser. If you want either a global audience or a highly targeted, very specific one, online ads are probably better. If you're worried about looking credible, you might choose to advertise in your local paper. If you're concerned about what's going to give you the most bang for your buck and you're still not sure if internet vs. newspaper presentation is best for your advertising needs, you'll want to balance the cost benefits of the internet with the increased effectiveness of a newspaper ad.