A Guide To Buying Print Advertising
A Guide To Buying Print Advertising
Placing advertising in the media can seem daunting which is why, for many, enlisting the support of trained media buyers,
professionals in the field, is considered a sensible and cost-effective decision.
However, an increasing number of companies are taking it upon themselves to make their own media buying decisions.
But how do you know how to spend valuable marketing budget effectively? Are you really familiar with the complexities of
BPA Worldwide is a non-profit organisation. It is the only global auditor of media, covering print, online, events,
databases, email campaigns and other forms of new media. This guide is intended an introduction for those looking to
buy media without the assistance of a professional media buyer.
About BPA Worldwide
BPA Worldwide is the only global auditor of media. It is the world’s largest independent, not-for-profit auditor of business
to business media offering uniformly applied standards around the world. Now in its 76th year, BPA Worldwide has more
than 2600 advertisers and media buyers within its worldwide membership. It audits more than 2500 media properties
across 25 countries, including more than 2000 business to business publications.
BPA audits enable media owners to compete successfully for advertising spend by providing media buyers and advertisers
with independently audited data. Media buyers and advertisers, in turn, demand such independent metrics as a way
of informing their buying decisions and protecting their interests. Third party audits represent the buyer’s only reliable
assurance against misleading, exaggerated or even fraudulent claims.
BPA specialises in multimedia audit, including consumer press, newspapers, expos, websites, email newsletters, databases
and other media containing advertising. This includes media circulation on an international or global basis by a publisher
in another territory, thus ensuring comparability for advertisers and media buyers across national boundaries.
BPA Worldwide is a founder member of the IFABC.
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Why Advertise in Print Media?
As a medium, advertising has evolved considerably over the last ten years, especially as the Internet has expanded and
become embraced as a commercial channel in its own right. Now, it is possible for consumers to view an advertisement
online or perhaps on digital television and instantly click through to purchase a product or service. By creating this
opportunity for two-way communication, interactive advertising should be more effective and easier to measure.
However, the value of online and television advertising – together with direct marketing, field marketing and other
communications disciplines – needs to be considered in the context of the complete marketing mix. And that’s when the
enduring value of print advertising becomes apparent. Print advertising is no less popular today than it was when it was
the only medium available. Print advertising remains effective, frequently has greater shelf life and is often more effective
in projecting a company’s brand in a consistent and ongoing manner than other forms of advertising.
The PPA’s landmark ‘Ad Track’ survey concluded that magazine advertising can generate marked increases in advertising
awareness. ‘Ad Track’ also concluded that magazines can generate movement in willingness to consider buying the
advertised brands. PPA’s ‘Sales Uncovered’, a 2005 analysis of TNS Superpanel data, showed that magazine advertising
was associated with an 11.6% uplift in sales of fmcg products, in money terms. In volume terms, the uplift was 18.1%.
There were also increases in market share, brand penetration, and weight of purchase. ‘Sales Uncovered’ also showed
that the medium term (12 month) return on investment from magazine advertising was £2.77 for the average fmcg
brand. This is comparable with that of television advertising. PPA, IPA, FIPP have all released case histories in which
magazine campaigns are shown to sell products effectively and sometimes dramatically. and individual publishers have all
How Is Advertising Sold?
Advertising is sold by the amount of space or time, but the specifics vary between media.
Print advertising is usually available in two formats: display advertising and classified advertising.
Display advertising, which tends to appear in the main run of the magazine or newspaper, is sold per single column
centimetre (usually for newspapers), which is the width of the space in columns multiplied by height of the space in
centimetres, or in units or sub-units of a full page (magazine)
Classified advertisements are sold by the line or sometimes word.
If you have taken the decision to buy advertising space for yourself, you will almost certainly begin to be approached by
sales representatives of the media operating in your sector. They will all offer what they claim is the best title and the best
deal for your budget. Don’t make a decision in the first conversation. Using the information in this document, ask for facts
about their title, so that you can make effective comparisons between titles. Above all, stay objective and focus on what’s
best for your budget (not on who’s the friendliest on the telephone) and always negotiate rates.
Audited publications will include their audit certificate within their media pack. You should expect the media pack to also
include a rate card of current prices, column sizes, deadlines, editorial calendars, special features, media circulation,
geographic coverage and audience demographics. Only the information that appears on the audit certificate has definitely
been independently verified.
Rate cards should be treated as a guide. The more space you buy the cheaper it is likely to become. If you buy a series
of advertisements, the cost per unit will drop the longer the series is. So the list price for a single insertion could well be
considerably more than the price of a series.
So be sure to enquire about special rates for multiple insertions, advertorial (sponsored editorial features) considerations
with paid display ads or any unsold advertising space left over if the magazine is close to deadline. Similarly, if you are
considering placing a schedule for a year’s worth of advertising, make sure you ask for recognition of this in the rates. You
should get a better deal when you contract for multiple issues.
You could also enquire about special placement. If you are placing multiple ads, you should try and secure special
positions from the publication. Prime advertising slots like inside front cover or outside back cover won’t normally be an
option, but requesting options such as the front third of the magazine, right or left side of page, upgrade from black and
white to spot colour, placement near a specific feature article, or the top of a page may be something you can secure.
Generally speaking, try always to request a right-hand page.
Set aside some of your media budget to cover special situations, editions or promotions that may run during the course
of the year. Similarly, schedule early for peak periods (perhaps around the major trade shows) to ensure that you get the
Choosing the correct publication for your budget can be difficult if you’re working outside of a single, niche market
sector. The simple rule of thumb is to put yourself in the mind of the reader. Ask for sample copies of publications and
look at both the editorial content, style and other advertisers to determine if it should go on your shortlist of potential
publications in which to advertise.
Also, remember, there’s nobody more charming than a media sales representative. Most, understandably, work hard to
build a relationship with potential clients. However, always keep this in the back of your mind - if the price isn’t right or
the publication doesn’t fit your product, then move on to something else.
Finally, always check your invoices and demand proof that the ads were run as scheduled. You should receive a voucher
Getting What You Pay For
The bottom line, when it comes to placing advertising spend, is the need to be sure you’re getting what you’re paying
for. Media owners may cite a variety of benchmarks to demonstrate the effectiveness of their publication and, below, we
outline a few. Your task, as the advertiser, is to be assured (and be able to demonstrate to your superiors) that the media
you select reaches the right target audience for your business or campaign, and that what the media you select tells you
about their publications is in fact true.
The headline circulation figure is often the only figure that advertisers look at when comparing one publication with
another. However, audited circulation reports should give you far more information in terms of how publications are
circulated (the balance between paid for on a news stand, controlled circulation or free distribution) as well as geographic
circulation. The highest headline figure isn’t necessarily the figure to work with. In b2b magazines, the nature of the
circulation may be more important than the size. Audit organisations like BPA Worldwide are your only independent, third
party source for verified circulation data.
For business to business publications, BPA’s audits report: qualified versus non-qualified recipients; key businesses and
industries reached; subscribers’ occupations; buying influences; sources of subscriptions (personal, written or electronic
request); qualified circulation “age” (qualified or re-qualified within the past year, two years or three years); geographic
locations of subscribers, and paid subscription data.
Bear in mind, though, that circulation and readership are not the same thing. Circulation data will not tell you how much
of a magazine is read, by whom or by how many people, all of which makes determining exact readership numbers
For a sample report please click:
For a guide on how to read a circulation statement click:
The Circulation Audit
A BPA Worldwide circulation audit is conducted each year to verify the circulation records of a magazine. Over 90% of all
audit results are available within six months of the end of the audit period.
The publisher must prove to the auditor that the magazine’s circulation conforms to the target audience or desired
receivership intended by the magazine. A circulation statement and annual audit report are two distinct documents.
The unaudited business publication circulation statement is tinted green and is printed twice per year. The audit report is
gold and is published only if the audit reveals a discrepancy between the circulation statement and the circulation records,
or if the publisher specifically requests that it be printed.
The magazine’s initial audit is also printed on yellow paper. Copies of circulation statements and audit reports are available
to all, at no charge, at www.bpaww.com.
When planning your campaign, you should have in mind the goals you are trying to achieve; the industry, market or
demographic you are trying to reach. When planning a business to business campaign, the headline circulation figure may
be less important than the breakdown of who reads the publication you are considering, particularly when thinking about
job titles and functions. The audit report will show who receives the publication, the characteristics of the company or
industry in which they work and, therefore, their potential value to you as the advertiser.
How to read an audit report?
While most users tend to look at the total qualified circulation, there is valuable data in every section. Check the
statement date to make sure it is the most current one available
by examining the period. You will also find on the statement the publishing company’s information, the title’s publishing
frequency, year established, and whether it is an official publication of an association or society.
The publisher defines the market the magazine serves and who within the market receives the magazine. Two
declarations, Field Served and Definition of Recipient Qualification, indicate the publisher’s precise target audience.
Note that both declarations must be factual and non-promotional. BPA Worldwide requires the publisher to define or
describe, in auditable terms, the audience or desired receivership intended by the magazine, regardless of whether the
circulation is paid, non-paid, or a combination of the two.
The audit report will also provide a geographical breakdown of qualified circulation, which will give you the total number
of qualified copies circulation by region or country.
Glossary of Audit Terms
Qualified circulation is defined as circulation whose recipients can be proven by documentary evidence to meet the
publisher’s definition of the market served. This circulation
may be paid, non-paid or both; each is reported separately. Copies of the magazine delivered for media marketing
purposes (i.e., ad agency copies) are not included in this definition.
Non Qualified Circulation refers to recipients who do not meet the publication’s definition
of a qualified recipient. These can include advertiser or sample copies, for example. They are
included on the audit report because BPA accounts for every copy printed.
Average Qualified Circulation – This table identifies the magazine’s average total qualified circulation, and separately
breaks out the paid and non-paid portion of the average circulation for the period. Also in this table you will find the
average rate base claimed by the magazine and the amount that the average circulation varies above or below the
average rate base.
Price and Frequency – This table provides a summary of paid circulation data, including average annual order price,
issues per year, and single copy or newsstand retail prices for the period covered by the report. A magazine, whether B2B
or consumer, can make the decision to either sell paid subscriptions or to distribute via controlled circulation. The audit
report will break out the qualified circulation by paid and non-paid.
Five-Year Average Qualified Circulation Trend – This chart illustrates all circulation activity for the present period
and for the four prior years, including all paid and non-paid circulation, as well as newsstand sales.
Average Annualised Subscription Price – This chart shows the price of the magazine over the past five years.
A magazine’s decision to sell paid subscriptions or distribute via controlled (non-paid) circulation is usually based on the
need for market coverage and publishing
economics. In either case, they are treated equally and reported separately under BPA Worldwide rules.
Types of Copies – “Channels of Distribution”
Individual – Copies are addressed individually to a person, a company, a department, or to any other unit.
Membership Benefit – Subscriptions which are a benefit of association membership, which may or may not be
deductible from dues.
Multi-Copy Same Addressee – Two or more non-sponsored copies of the magazine (whether or not individually
wrapped and addressed) sent to a single addressee.
Sponsored Individually Addressed – These include sponsored, group and gift subscriptions that are not multi-copies
to the same addressee.
Sponsored Multi-Copy Same Addressee – Two or more copies of the magazine going to
the same address that are paid for without promoting the interests of the sponsor/donor.
This might refer to subscriptions sold to an employer in lots of five or more (usually at a
reduced rate) for distribution to employees, staff, members etc. They will be individually
Single-Copy Sales – Newsstand copies sold at the suggested retail cover price or those
addressed individually to a person, a company, a department or some
other business unit.
Sponsored Single-Copy Sales – Copies of an issue purchased in quantities of two or more that promote the interest of
Bulk refers to two or more copies mailed to one addressee, or copies such as gift
subscriptions which are for the donor’s benefit.
Media owners will talk about ‘reach’ in terms of the number of people your advertising message will reach through
their title. The more people who see your message, the greater the reach and, therefore, the higher the rate card price
for advertising is likely to be. You will want to ensure that reach is as targeted as possible, both geographically and
demographically. The nature of your campaign will determine the geographic areas you want to hit as well as the type of
customers or prospects who would most likely buy your products or services.
This is the term used for the number of occasions on which your target audience sees your advertising message. You
will likely place your advertisement to appear on more than one occasion, which means that in the readership of any
publication, some people are likely to see your message once whereas others may see it on a number of occasions. The
media owner is likely to express the frequency as an average.
This is often a judgement call made by the media buyer based on all other criteria. It attempts to rate the likely
effectiveness of your advertisement through a particularly publication. But, with a working knowledge of circulation, reach
and frequency, you should be able to ask the questions you need to make an informed decision on the best titles in which
to place your advertising spend.
Glossary of Advertising Terms
Advertorial – An advertisement that resembles a newspaper or magazine editorial but promotes a single advertiser’s
product, service, or point of view.
Agency Commission - This is the revenue given to recognised agencies by the media for all adverts placed.
Artwork - This is the original advert, it is created on photographic paper onto which logos, border, illustrations and
typeset copy are placed.
Border - The outer boundaries of the advert - The University has its own style of borders, which can be seen in appendix
to this section.
Bromide - A photographic copy of the original artwork. the media need only place this directly into their page layout. It
requires no work from the media and ensures total control of the appearance of the advert by the agency/client.
Circulation - The number of copies that the media sells or issues each time it is printed.
Classified - This is the section of the media dedicated to selling goods/jobs/companies etc. It is made up totally of
advertising and is the main area of income for a publication.
Classification - The classified section is broken down into headed columns to help readers find where to look, e.g. public
notices, situations vacant, houses for sale etc.
Column Width - Every publication has its pages split into columns that vary in number and size. Advertisements should
appear to those widths.
Colour Separations - All adverts with full colour need to have separations in order that the advert will appear showing
correct colour representation. An individual printing plate is made for each colour used in the advert. This is a costly
procedure and should only be done by a specialist.
Confirmation - This is a document sent by an agency to a client confirming that the client’s original instructions have
been carried out.
Composite - Adverts that are due to appear in the same publication, same style, same column on the same day are
brought together to create one large block advertisement, saving money as well as giving much greater impact.
Copy Deadline - This is the day/time that is set by the media by which all adverts must arrive at their premises,
obviously this then creates the deadline by which the agency must receive copy in order to meet media deadlines.
Freesheet - Publication distributed free of charge, e.g. free newspaper
Full Display - This is when adverts appear with borders and logo and the copy is set within the border to styles that suit
Headline - This is the key line in the copy that appears in a border or large typeface to draw the reader’s attention to it.
It may just be the job title or department heading, or information giving introduction to the subject of the advert.
Lineage - This style of advert is run alphabetically under the specialist classification headings. The first word of the
advert is set in bold and the rest of the copy run on.
Production - The work done to take an advert from written form to the stage where it can be reproduced within the
Reversed Out - Printed white on black background as opposed to black on white (like this page).
Rough - This is a quick hand drawn sketch produced by a designer of the layout of an advert.
Run of paper (rop) - Advertising that can be placed on pages alongside editorial in the media.
Semi Display - Once again set in the classified sections - very similar to lineage but copy spaced to highlight specific
headlines. Set by the media.
Single Column Centimetre - This is the method by which copy depth is (scc) measured and costs quoted e.g. 10 x 2 @
,5.55 scc = ,110.
Trade Setting - Typesetting for an advertisement carried out by an agency or typesetting house, rather than by the
media which is carrying the advertisement.
Typeface - The styles of type available. There is a huge variety of these styles and examples are available.
Typesetting - Text set on computer using specific typefaces.
Typographical Layout - The way in which the text of an advertisement is or will by set out in the media.
Voucher Copies - Copies of an advertisement taken from the media in which it appeared. An agency should send
voucher copies free of charge to a client as proof that the advert has been placed in the agreed publication, in the agreed
BPA Worldwide is a founding organisation in Buysafemedia. A campaign to promote best practices in media buying
through the use of audit data..
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International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulations
The IFABC is a voluntary cooperative federation of industry-sponsored organizations established in nations throughout the
world to verify and report facts about the circulations of publications and related data.