Print vs. Pixels

October 4, 2011

Print & online advertising: Which is better for your business?

I find it exciting that planning an online magazine campaign is similar to planning a print magazine campaign. Today, I'm going to give you some tips and tricks for planning both types.

First's let's talk about how to select a magazine. Here is a partial checklist of questions to ask:
Is your target audience reading this periodical?A good source is the Standard Rate and Data Service. My favorite is to ask my customers.

What competition is advertising? How often?


Circulation (print edition), and number of monthly website visitors and click through rate (online edition)


Once you have made your selection, there are key decisions you must make to achieve success:

A problem your audience has that you can solve and how you will present that. Consider showing the problem with a graphic and the solution with a title.

Your key message. Will your advertisements introduce new products?

Always include a call to action. Your key message will influence this. For example, if your ad introduces a new product, you could tell the reader to call you.

Best positions for ad placement. Target the front-third of the magazine on the right-hand side (print), and the top left-hand corner above the fold (online).

What tricks you will use to get your ads noticed. Print: Try putting a sample of a product in the magazine. Or place your ad on thicker paper. These methods normally cause the magazine to naturally fall open to your ad.

Online: Consider using a pop-up ad. The user has to close it to use the website. (Use this method with caution. It can be effective, yet may leave a bad taste in the mouth of some users.)

How you will measure success. What metrics will you use?

In conclusion, know that you can never measure the full effect your ads have. A person may not respond to your call to action, but they will probably remember your brand if they notice your ad. A solid approach to branding is to expose prospects to your brand three or more times. Integrating your print and online advertising will increase your chances of success.

James Lowry is the general manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is a 25-year veteran of the printing industry with experience in digital, flexo, offset, and commercial printing.

With so many trade magazines publishing online content these days, you might be having a difficult time deciding where to invest your advertising dollars. Should you stick with what is familiar - print advertising - or should you completely move your advertising campaigns online?

Each medium has its advantages. The ROI of online advertising is usually greater than print advertising and is easier to measure. On the other hand, studies show that print advertising is harder to ignore, packs a greater emotional punch, and is more memorable than its digital cousin.

With the integration of print and online advertising becoming more commonplace and effective than ever, you don't have to choose one or the other. Many publishers are making it easy and affordable for you to advertise in both mediums by offering discounted combination packages. Furthermore, creating print and online campaigns that complement each other not only reaches a larger audience, but leverages your ROI as well.

Publishers are beginning to notice that their print and online audiences overlap. As a result, many have started supplementing their print magazine with unique, interactive content. Magazine websites are no longer digital replicas of their print versions, and your display ads shouldn't be, either.

At a minimum, consider purchasing online display ads that rotate. If your publisher offers it, create banner ads that are only shown to highly targeted users. Experiment with creating ads that convey concepts through graphic, video and audio content. Direct users to your eCommerce site, or to website pages that offer them promotional discounts in exchange for answering a few questions. The more interactive your online ad is, the greater your returns will be.

Consider making your print advertisements interactive, too. Get creative. Use them to drive your target audience online with coupon codes, Facebook and Twitter icons, and product website URLs. Keep in mind, however, that factual information is more likely to be absorbed through text.

You might also be relieved to know that successful online advertising campaigns are built and evaluated using many of the same principals used in traditional print advertising. Although the techniques have changed, the decision-making and planning are very similar. James is going to give you an overview of how to plan both types of campaigns, starting with a list of questions you must ask yourself when deciding whether or not a magazine will meet your business' advertising needs.

Christy Correll is the online marketing specialist at Lightning Labels, where sales are driven primarily through eCommerce activities.
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