Effective Newspaper Advertisements for Retail

Close-up of newspapers
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People get their news from so many digital sources these days that printed newspapers aren't as effective as they once were. This doesn't mean your newspaper ad won't be effective, but it does mean you need to plan your print ads more strategically. Some types of retail ads will be more effective than others. It will depend on your target audience, the type of products you offer and where the ad is placed.

Commonly referred to as ROP (run of press,) newspapers generally feature two types of ads. First, there is the classified ad or text ad, and the second, more common ad, is the display ad. The display ad may be all text or include images and can be found throughout the publication. Retailers sometimes use the classifieds to get rid of dead inventory. Think of it as your Craig's list ad, but in the newspaper. It's cheap, but only gets looked at by people who want a big deal or cost savings. Here are some of the more common newspaper advertising forms:

Business Card Ad

This type of ad basically says who and where you are, and what you sell. It may include your logo. Short and sweet, that's it. Many newspapers are looking for filler content every day. Try to see if your newspaper would use your business card ad as filler giving you a huge reduction in rate. The placement is not always the best, but you are in the paper every day for the same price as a display ad for one day. 

Coupon Ad

These are great for sales promotions to bring new customers to the store. By offering a certain dollar or percentage amount off your merchandise, the coupon offer is also one of the easiest ads to track the effectiveness because the customer has to present the coupon to get the deal. You can count the number of coupons received as a true metric of your advertising.
These types of ads are often put into "groups" or "bundles" with others with services such as Redplum or ValPak. While the cost of these ads is cheaper, keep in mind that your brand is being associated with all the others in the pack. Often times, that is not a good thing. And while these can be nudged with the newspaper for delivery, there are many downsides to this type of advertising.

Sale Ad

The most common type of ad placed in the newspaper by retail is the sale ad. Instead of offering a discount to a particular customer like the Coupon Ad, the Sale Ad is open to the entire public. This allows anyone to come into their store to receive a discount on a product, department or the entire store. This is the highest traffic driver for your store, but since it involves giving away your margins, this ad type should only be used to clear out dead inventory or create cash flow. 

Spotlight Ad

This type of newspaper ad focuses the attention on a particular product, product line, staff member or customer of your business. This looks good as a larger display ad run just a few times each year. This is most commonly an ad you can get from one of your vendors. Vendors provide co-op funding to help promote their brand. They typically have a spotlight or display ad ready to go. You just plug in your store address and website. The ad artwork is always a fee, but you will have to negotiate with your vendor for them to cover the cost of the ad in the newspaper.

Informational Ad

Commonly referred to as an advertorial, this ad is written in a journalistic style making it read like an article instead of an advertisement. You know them well since most papers run disclaimer along the top or the bottom of the page that it is an advertisement. Informational ads work well because when posted in the online version of the newspaper, you get real traffic to your retail store or website.

There is not a right ad for every retailer. Each store is in a unique market and the demographic may respond better to one type of ad over another. Don't get drawn into the sexy pitches of newspapers advertising salespeople when they talk about circulation. Remember, circulation is a reference to the number of copies they print, not the number of people who will read it. And certainly not a reference to the number of people who will see your ad.