After you’ve carefully written your advertising copy, come up with a headline, chosen specific typography, selected your images and created the layout for your print ad, your work is not done. Choosing your ad placement in a magazine or newspaper is the last key step to ensure you get the maximum impact from your ad. Consider the section of the publication, page side and editorial proximity as you negotiate your advertising purchases.
When you pay extra for the placement of your ad, you pay a premium. Many savvy small-business owners negotiate placement at no extra cost as part of their contract, especially if they are new advertisers. Some spots, such as the back and inside covers, almost always require an extra fee, long-term contract or other premium. Right-hand pages often come with a premium in larger magazines, as do ads placed in specific sections of a publication.
In Western cultures, the eye travels from left to right, from the top of the page to the bottom. When two pages of a magazine are open, the eye usually ends up toward the bottom-right side of the page before it’s turned. Even when newspaper readers fold their papers to read one at a time, they usually end up looking at the bottom right-hand side of the page. This “anchor” position is the most desirable for many advertisers, who request it in their contracts. Many publications charge extra for a page on the right-hand side, but it’s often easy to negotiate this placement at no extra charge.
Newspaper readers often fold pages in half, width-wise, with the information appearing at the top appearing "above the fold." Newspapers place their more important information and images above the fold, so many advertisers ask that fractional ads be placed there, instead of toward the bottom, right-hand side, as is preferred in magazines. If a newspaper runs a puzzle below the fold, you might want your ads to appear next to it, since people will spend several minutes or more seeing your ad as they work the puzzle.
A magazine has four covers: the front, the inside front, the inside back and the back cover. The back cover is usually the most expensive premium position of a magazine, followed by the two inside covers. When consumers toss a magazine on a table, there’s a 50 percent chance an ad on a back cover will end up visible. The inside covers usually carry impact, because they are the first and last pages readers see and often face editorial such as a contents page, or a classified ads section. Usually, only a struggling magazine will give away a cover at no extra charge, and only to its best advertisers.
Magazines divide their editorial content into sections. In magazines, these are the front of the book, departments, feature well, columns and back of the book. Many magazines do not sell ads in the feature well, and less-professional publications often cram most of their ads toward the back of the magazine, often placing two pages of ads facing each other, which readers often skip. Negotiate placement of your ad in the first half of the magazine, if possible, which might come with a premium.
Newspapers come in sections such as sports, local news, business lifestyle, arts, religion and health. Based on your target customer, you might not want your ad to run in a section that might seem appropriate to a newspaper salesperson working with no direction from you. For example, if you sell a sports bra, the salesperson might place your ad in the sports section. If you feel more of your female customers read the health section, negotiate placement in that section.
You might want your ads placed near certain articles or away from competitors. Asking to be placed near an article in which you’re mentioned is a double-edged sword. If people see your ad after reading something positive about you, they might be more motivated to visit your website or call dial phone number. It also might look like pay-for-play and turn off readers. Most print publications try to keep competitors’ ads apart, but sometimes mistakes happen. Negotiating to keep your ad away from the competition will increase the chances your sales rep and the publication’s designer will double-check the layout before it goes to the printer.