Newspaper Advertising – Advantages & Disadvantages by Mike Brassil

Paid-circulation newspapers are a popular advertising medium for most local businesses. They are the oldest forms of mass media, and they continue to be one of the largest, as measured by volume of advertising dollars. Industry giants, as well as the local convenience stores, use newspapers to advertise. Every community has its own newspaper. There are over 1,600 paid-circulation daily newspapers in America and several thousand additional local weekly papers as well.

Every advertising medium has characteristics that give it natural advantages and limitations. As you scan your local newspaper(s), you will notice a number of businesses that advertise on a regular basis. Observe who they are, and how they advertise their products and services. More than likely, if the advertisements are repeated, the ads are working.

Consider this media if you are selling to a general market, because newspapers are generally bought by all segments of the population. Even though the newspaper no longer enjoys its former role as the almost exclusive source of news, they still remain a strong factor in their specific sphere of influence.

Advantages of Newspaper Advertising

There are a number of characteristics of paid-circulation newspapers that make them especially appealing to advertisers:

  • Most paid-circulation papers, both daily and weekly, reach the majority of homes in their primary city or town.
  • Almost every home in the United States receives a newspaper, either at the newsstand or by home delivery.
  • Newspapers permit an advertiser to reach a large number of people within a specified geographical area.
  • The printed advertising message has both permanence and desired obsolescence. A reader can refer back to, or even clip and save, a particular ad, yet tomorrow’s edition is new and fresh and as eagerly sought by the same reader.
  • The newspaper offers a predictable frequency of publication: once, twice or up to seven times a week.
  • Newspapers have immediacy. You can place an ad on Monday and be getting results before the week is over. Short deadlines permit quick responses to changing market conditions.
  • People expect to find advertising in their newspapers. In fact, many people buy newspapers just to read the ads from the restaurants, movies and discount stores.
  • Reading the newspaper has become a habit for most families. It has something for everyone.
  • You can reach certain segments of your market by placing your ads in different sections of the paper such as: sports, comics, crosswords, news, classifieds, etc.
  • An advertiser has flexibility in terms of ad size and placement. Production changes can be made quickly, if necessary, a new insert can be added on short notice.
  • Advertisements can be examined at leisure. Exposure is not limited, so readers can take their time reading the messages.
  • It offers a great variety of ad sizes. If you don’t have a large budget, you can still run a series of small ads.
  • Many options are available. Copy alone; copy with graphics; black and white; or full color.
  • Newspaper supplements often feature certain subjects that readers pull out and save.

Disadvantages of Newspaper Advertising

Advertising in the newspaper is not without a few inherent disadvantages, such as:

  • Any given advertising message must compete for the reader’s attention. The paper may contain hundreds of ads, as well as dozens of articles and features for the reader to wade through. If the total time spent scanning a newspaper is only 20 minutes, your ad may not be noticed by a significant number of people.
  • You have no assurance that every person who receives the newspaper will read your ad. They may not read the section you advertised in, or they may simply have skipped the page because it contained little or nothing else of interest.
  • It has a relatively short life span (newspapers are typically read once, then discarded), thus requiring multiple insertions.

Just as with any advertising method, weigh the advantages and disadvantages before deciding where to spend, and you will make the most of your advertising dollars.

About the Author

Michael (Mike) Brassil is author of “The Only Business Start-Up Guide You Will Ever Need.” Download two chapters — Starting a New Business and The Home Working Revolution — at