Don't Give Up on Magazines

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Lately, it seems that many magazines are getting thinner with every issue, and rate bases are decreasing without discrimination toward any particular category or publisher. Are advertisers temporarily giving up on magazines? It is no surprise that the increasingly uncertain economy is forcing advertisers to tighten their budgets. However, there are ways to achieve positive ad performance and meet ROI objectives even when times are tough.

Anyone with direct response advertising experience is likely aware that response rate is the primary weakness in performance for a magazine ad. A surefire way to improve response is to provide a third reply device, a mail-in reply, in addition to the reply devices typically featured in an ad, a toll-free number and URL. This can be accomplished by developing a pre-printed insert format, such as a moisten-and-seal business reply card, single sheet insert, or gatefold.

Of course, placing pre-printed inserts in magazines brings about new challenges, regardless of the format. Some of these obstacles include increased costs for paper, printing, and shipping, higher media rates, longer lead times, and more complex logistics. However, making the effort to overcome these obstacles is a worthwhile consideration.

There are many benefits to inserting a pre-printed piece: it has undeniable stopping power – the heavier paper stock breaks the book, thereby helping your ad to stand out within the editorial environment; the additional reply device allows for maximum measurability and accountability; and most importantly, pre-printed formats allow for true head-to-head testing, allowing you to stretch your budget and generate results more quickly and with a greater confidence level than by testing in separate issues. 

Key elements to success with a pre-printed insert include obtaining premium positions and negotiating aggressive media rates, so that the lift in response is not offset by the higher costs associated with this format. When developing your magazine plan, every detail should be considered, including the publication mix, product, offer, and creative; you should be putting your best foot forward to ensure that campaign objectives are met.

All things considered, magazines continue to be a viable advertising medium. It is in the best interest of advertisers not to overlook this channel at a time when they should be more focused on acquiring profitable new business than ever before.

Amber Langlois is an account executive at PlusMedia LLC. You can reach her at

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