Whether you're contemplating advertising in a consumer or a trade magazine, knowing the disadvantages helps you decide if the medium is the best choice for getting your company's message to your target market.
Placing ads in magazines read by a wide audience when you sell a product that appeals to a small, niched target market is not an effective way to spend your advertising dollars. Instead, advertising in niche publications, such as Classic Toy Trains, if you sell toy train tracks, works better. Placing ads in regional or local editions of nationally published magazines is another way to turn this disadvantage around, says advertising writer Kathy J. Kobliski in her article for Entrepreneur.
If you need to boost sales immediately, offer temporary pricing or describe items that are about to become outdated, magazine advertising puts you at a disadvantage. That's because the lead time for placing an ad in a magazine can be months, rather than a few hours to a couple of days for a newspaper, says Power Home Biz, a publication geared toward home business owners. If you want to appear in a special section or in a specific themed issue, lead times can get even longer, potentially making your ad ineffective. Magazine advertising is more useful for branding and expressing a company's image than for convincing people to buy based on price, says Edmond A. Bruneau, author and expert on advertising, in an article for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Unlike newspaper ads, magazine ads only come out every one to three months, depending on the publication. You won't get much reach from a magazine ad on a daily or weekly basis, says Outdoor Advertising Association of America. If you hope to use your ad to build recognition with readers, it can take months –– even years –– of consistent messages to develop your brand.
Ad costs range from $500 to $20,000 and up, says Kobliski. The fee depends on the magazine's circulation as well as the size and frequency of your ad. Publications that draw lots of readers cost the most. The cost goes up if you want an inside cover or back page ad, with Entrepreneur reporting that the price can be as high as $500,000 for national publications with high circulation.
Many magazines, such as news publications, are experiencing declining sales as readers switch from print to mobile devices and smartphones to get information, says Pew Research Center, in its 2012 analysis of six publications that included two major and four niche magazines. This is a disadvantage since you'll reach fewer people if the publication only offers a print version and not a mobile version, too, in which your ads can appear.