Digital advertising has burst onto the scene in recent years and will take the majority of advertising dollars in 2019, surpassing television for the first time. That doesn’t mean conventional media, namely newspaper ads, don’t continue to have value.
While the number of subscribers has dropped over the years, total daily newspaper circulation in the U.S. exceeds 28.6 million readers for weekdays and 30.8 million for Sundays. For small businesses looking to reach customers on a local or regional scale, newspapers remain a viable advertising alternative.
How Much Does It Cost to Advertise in a Newspaper?
As you’d expect, the larger the ad space and the more readers it reaches, the more expensive it will be. High-quality, high-circulation newspapers will charge higher rates.
National Newspaper Advertising Cost Comparison
If you want to advertise in a national newspaper to reach the largest possible audience, expect a high price tag. USA Today reaches 1.6 million readers. The Wall Street Journal reaches more than a million.
Top 10 National Newspapers by Circulation
- USA Today: 1,621,091
- The Wall Street Journal: 1,011,200
- The New York Times: 483,701
- New York Post: 426,129
- Los Angeles Times: 417,936
- The Washington Post: 254,379
- Star Tribune: 251,822
- Newsday: 251,473
- Chicago Tribune: 238,103
- The Boston Globe: 230,756
Source: Cision, citing metrics from the Alliance for Audited Media.
Cost of Advertising in National Newspapers
National newspaper advertising costs for a full-page ad in the New York Times business section is $245,451 for the Sunday edition. A one-time, full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal can run you $327,103 for a full-color ad or $249,480 for black and white.
Even the local sections of a national newspaper, such as the regional section of the New York Times, cost more than $35,100.
Cost to Advertise in a Local Newspaper
Local newspaper ad rates vary greatly, too. The average cost of advertising in a local newspaper can range between $600 and $3,500 for a full-page ad depending on the paper’s circulation. Visit entrepreneur-focused website Gaebler.com for average ad rates for newspapers in your area.
Newspaper Ad Pricing Structure
The average cost of newspaper advertising can be confusing because there are so many variables. Prices will vary depending on which section you display your ad, the size, whether it’s color or black and white and the volume of advertising you buy.
Typically, newspapers give more favorable rates to their best advertisers. That means people who advertise regularly are going to get better deals. If you are placing an ad one time only, expect to pay the highest rates. If you’re willing to commit to a certain threshold of advertising spend or a specific number of column inches, you’ll get better rates.
Price Per Column Inch
One of the most significant factors affecting the cost will be the size of your ad. Newspapers price ad space by column inches. In other words, pricing is figured per each one inch of a column.
A full-page ad is typically six columns multiplied by column length. If the length is 21 inches, it would take up 126 inches total. If the price is $25 per column inch, a full-page ad would cost $3,150. A quarter-page ad would measure 31.5 inches and cost $787.50.
Most newspapers also offer modular pricing. Rather than charge by inches, they will charge by shapes and sizes.
Samples of Modular Sizes
- Full Page
- Half Page Horizontal
- Half Page Vertical
- Quarter Page
- 1/8 Page
- 1/16 Page
- 1-inch strip
- 2-inch strip
- 3-inch strip
- Top-of-page banner
Factors Affecting Newspaper Ad Costs
The average cost to advertise in a newspaper will depend on ad size, circulation, placement, frequency and color.
The larger the ad, the more expensive it will be.
Most newspapers publish circulation rates in their online media kits. They also report them to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Be careful not to confuse circulation with readership. Circulation refers to how many newspapers are printed and delivered.
Readership assumes multiple people will read the same paper. Readership numbers are generally inflated by a factor of more than 2.
Where your ad appears also will determine the pricing. A front-page ad will cost more than an inside ad. Ads in the main section of the newspaper will cost more than those that run in the local or sports sections.
Sunday editions have the highest circulation and will be read by the most people. Ads in the Sunday paper will cost more than weekday editions.
The more ads you run, the cheaper it gets for each ad. If you are willing to commit to a contract upfront guaranteeing certain levels of financial commitment, you will get lower rates.
The cost of printing goes up when color is added. Newspapers still charge a premium for color ads.
Getting a Discount on Newspaper Ads
When you advertise more often, newspapers will reduce the cost per column inch. It’s the best way to get discounts, but it does mean you’re committing to spending more. The highest discounts will come from signing a contract guaranteeing to spend a specific amount of money over a defined period.
Things to consider:
- Be careful when you sign a contract. If you fail to meet your obligation, newspapers will “short rate” you. This means they will charge you back for higher rates for failing to meet the levels necessary to reach the discount.
- If you are a first-time advertiser, many newspapers offer low-cost advertising rates to draw new clients. They also may have special rates for seasonal inserts, special sections or industry-specific publications that aren’t part of the regular daily newspaper.
- Ask about remnant ad space. This is advertising space that’s available but goes unsold. Rather than run without ads, some publications will make this remnant space available at a huge discount. However, you will lose the ability to pick where your ad runs or even if it runs at all.
Another way to stretch your advertising dollars is to look for specialty publications that serve niche audiences. This includes community newspapers, weekly newspapers or neighborhood publications. If you’re targeting geographically or for specific communities, this is an affordable option for you.
The United States Newspaper Listing website lists local newspapers nationwide.
Ways to Get Maximum Coverage for Your Ad
When it comes to advertising, marketers talk in terms of reach and frequency. Reach is the number of people that will see your ad. Frequency is the number of times they will see it. Maximizing your coverage will mean reaching as many people as possible, as many times as possible, within your budget.
The main news section is the most read part of the paper. That’s why the costs will be higher here.
Next up is the local news section, which also draws high readership. Costs will be slightly less than in the main section. Local section readers are typically from the area and more likely to be local consumers.
When it comes to other sections, such as business, health or sports, readership falls dramatically. If you are advertising general market products, these ads won’t get as much coverage but may provide better pricing. If you have a product that is tailored to these audiences, however, this may be a better place to reach the right readers.
For example, a local company that prepares tax returns for individuals might be better advertising in the main or local news sections, while a certified public accountant who caters to businesses might prefer the business section.
If you’re wondering which day to advertise, Sundays have the highest circulation. The next day with the highest readership is Wednesday. Both Sunday and Wednesday editions typically feature coupons and inserts, which increase readership.
To maximize your advertising, you also should consider other sources. When consumers see your ads in multiple places, it has a multiplier effect, meaning the ads are seen more frequently.
Many newspapers have digital versions of their products. In many cases, the digital circulation may outnumber the print versions. You may get better rates by bundling print and digital offerings.
Create Effective Newspaper Ads in 5 Steps
When creating effective newspaper ads, keep these five things in mind:
1. Copy Points
The first thing you need to do is decide what you want to advertise and the purpose. Are you trying to entice readers to try your product for the first time? Are you trying to establish your brand as a trustworthy source? Do you need to move merchandise this weekend?
Each item will have a different strategy.
As people read the paper, it’s easy to skip over ads or flip pages. You need to get them to focus on your ad with an attention-grabbing headline.
3. The Basics
Make sure you have a clear call to action. Whatever the goal is on your ad, state it clearly. If possible, create urgency in your ads, such as “this weekend only” or “on sale now.”
Make sure the number, address, telephone number and website for your business is correct and included in every ad.
4. Ad Design and Layout
Ad design and layout are important. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, don’t worry. Newspapers can help you with the design and suggest ideas. They may charge you for design.
5. Defining Success
Know what you want to happen when you advertise in a newspaper. Make sure you have a valid means of measuring success.
- Coupons are trackable as they are redeemed
- Setting up a landing page separate from your home page and include it in your ad
- Vanity links (namely custom website addresses that are shorter or easier to remember)
- Call tracking numbers
You also can ask customers when they visit your business. Develop a marketing strategy and work within your budget.