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Pros And Cons of Publication Advertising

Publication advertising traditionally carried brands from the cradle to the sky rocketing success. Yet, for newer brands it is considered a fading source of revenue generation in advertising industry.

It is very common to see businesses – and advertising agencies – dropping publication advertising from their marketing plans in frustration over results, or impatience against slow conversions. We still think that it is a critical piece of the marketing strategy, but as any advertising channel, it has its pros and cons.

We list some advantages and disadvantages of publication advertising.

Pros Of Publication Advertising

It Provides An Economic Exposure

Getting more eyeballs on your product or service is the ‘name of the game’. All successful businesses are willing to pay for the right exposure.

One of the main advantages of publication advertising is the monumental exposure that your brand can have when advertising in the correct publication for a relatively economic budget. In the metropolitan area of Los Angeles, a successful business can target few million households under $30K budget, if they know what they are doing, it works and it scales the business.

It Is A Competitor Radar

99% of the time, the big players of your market are advertising in publication one way or another. Also, because of its relatively economic budget vs exposure, it becomes the starting point of new competitors in the market. So even if you are not considering publication advertising, keep an eye on this medium of advertising, and use it as your radar to gain more insight on your competitors.

It Can Give Your Brand A Status

We find that conversions for our clients jump anywhere between 9% to 12% after publication advertising in a high status magazine.

As we mentioned earlier, exposure is important, but also the source of this exposure is as well very important. Your target audience perception of what they read, or what coupons they wait for week to week gives your brand a higher status and your clients a stronger ‘consideration’ to take action .

It Can Stand the ‘ Test Of Season’

An advantage that is almost unique to publication advertising is that your ad life span is longer than other mediums. We often track conversions for clients that span over 9 months, in some industries, from the date of ad issue.

Publication advertising can stand the ‘ test of season’. Although typically a maximum conversion window is expected to be 60 days, if your ad is still relevant to a prospect, you still can get revenue from an ad you placed 6 months ago.

Now what are the disadvantages of publication advertising?

Cons of Publication advertising

Results Highly Fluctuate

A common issue is the high fluctuation or variance of results in publication advertising.

One of the reasons might be that you chose a magazine that changes frequently the zip codes where the publication drops within a region. So one month you are in a good route in a relevant zip code, the other you are in a bad one and your results suffer.

Other reason, is that you might have chosen a publication that are not very transparent about their circulation, household coverage, or maybe you didn’t quite get to understand how your ad will get distributed in the local, regional and national issues.

Because of this, a monthly analysis can lead businesses to perceive that this sort of advertising is wasting the marketing budget.

Call Tracking Inaccuracy

Publications offer clients different local numbers to each ad or campaigns so that they can track performance of campaigns, optimize them based on sales afterwards.

Publications offer also a call tracking platform to clients to login, in order to assess the performance of their campaigns. The problem is that it is really challenging to validate lead generation from this scenario.

Unless the business purchases their toll free numbers for the ads and possess a phone call recording utility – which we urge our clients to do first thing to start analytics - it is impossible to validate the accuracy of generated calls due to a campaign.

The ads can generate a ton of calls, that are junk, testing calls, or just not quality lead calls.

For Large Accounts – Ad Proofing Can Be A Headache

Publications have a strict ad copy deadlines in order to run efficiently their business.

If you are spending – or in charge of spending- more than $80 k on publication advertising and branching out to more than 20 magazines, in multiple languages, think of it, then proofing ad copies, auditing how magazines adhere to your promotions with publications can be really problematic.

Strategically, we believe that this is biggest disadvantage because it can disable a business growth potential, especially for businesses going from a local model to more of a regional, national or franchise model.


Publication advertising can be really tricky for businesses and Ad agencies. However it is still an important sales funnel that fosters brand awareness and converts really well if it is managed the correct way.

Need help with running publication campaigns? We can help, just reach out here.

Any comments? Questions? Share below.

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