Magazines and newspapers are the two most prominent traditional print media used for advertising. Magazines offer high visual quality with full color and glossy finish. You can also connect with a selective audience interested in the topic that your product or service relates to. While these benefits may justify a magazine ad, you have to weigh them against the disadvantages common with this medium.

Limited Audience Reach

Magazines do not have the same reach as television or radio. Readers are typically narrow segments of people interested in the given topic of the magazine. This means that magazines are not the best option if you want to reach a sizable, broad, general audience. This drawback contrasts the fact that those people that you do reach are normally more interested than audience members through other media like TV or radio.

Long Lead Times

Magazines are normally published weekly or monthly. Because of the significant amount of content, pictures and ads included in a typical issue, it takes weeks to lay out one issue. Publishers usually require that you get your ad in four to six weeks ahead of when you want it to run. Discounts for earlier submissions are common. This limits your ability to deliver a timely message or promotion. Instead, you have to go with a more general brand-building message.

Competing Ads Cause Clutter

Magazines continue to get bigger, but much of the additional content is advertising-driven. Because magazines offer a targeted connection to specific customers, they attract many companies in your same industry vying for those customers. This makes it difficult for your ad to stand out from the crowd in a magazine. Effective design, visuals and color combinations can help you attract attention as readers flip through. Then, you need to sell them with your copy. Because of the competitive landscape, you normally have to invest more in color, design and other features to get attention.

High Cost Advertising

Magazine ad prices vary greatly based on the circulation and readership of the magazine. On the whole, magazine placements are much more expensive than newspaper ads. You can get a better value by purchasing a smaller-sized ad with less use of color, but your ability to standout is minimized.

Options such as bleed pages — where the ad extends all the way to the edges of the page — preferred position in the publication, and half- or full-page space can increase your cost significantly. For a small local publication, you might get a reasonable space for a few hundred dollars, but a national publication usually costs several thousand dollars at a minimum.