Vertical and horizontal advertising form part of a vertical or horizontal marketing strategy which businesses use to reach the most important market sectors for their products or services. Companies that adopt a horizontal marketing strategy offer the same product to all market sectors. With a vertical marketing strategy, companies offer products customized to the needs of customers in different sectors, such as manufacturing, financial services or electronics.

Horizontal Advertising

Companies place horizontal advertising in media that provides the most effective coverage of consumers or business customers in all sectors. A food manufacturer, for example, might target consumers through local newspaper advertisements or ads in household interest magazines. Companies offering business customers maintenance services might advertise in the business section of local newspapers or in a general business magazine.

Vertical advertising

Vertical advertising campaigns appear in media that reach customers and prospects in specific market sectors. A food manufacturer targeting restaurants rather than consumers, for example, would advertise in publications targeting the catering trade. A company that offered specialist maintenance services for hospitals would place ads in healthcare publications.

Media Selection

It is essential to choose the right medium for your small business' advertising strategy. If you work with an advertising agency, brief them thoroughly on the audience you want to reach; they use their planning skills to select media that reach the target audience with minimal waste. If you are planning a vertical advertising campaign, the media planners will compare the circulation figures and readership profile for different publications covering the same sector, and recommend one or more publications that provide the best coverage at the lowest cost.


Your advertising messages must also reflect your advertising strategy. A garden tool supplier, for example, might offer all-purpose tools for householders. The copy would include messages like, “the best tools for every job in the garden.” If the supplier were targeting professional landscape gardeners, it would focus on important messages for the market, such as, “tools that help you complete a first-class job for your customers” or “tools that save you time and reduce your costs.”


If you have a limited advertising budget, vertical advertising may prove a more cost-effective strategy, according to marketing firm the DG Group, who recommends targeting prospects sector by sector. A company offering maintenance services might target manufacturers, advertising in publications aimed at factory managers. Later, it could advertise to retailers or hospitals, advertising in appropriate publications but changing the messages to suit the market. The cost of advertising in publications aimed at each sector is lower than the budget required to advertise in large circulation publications covering all sectors. Companies can progress sector by sector, rather than trying to fund a single major horizontal advertising campaign.