Traditional newspaper ads are best for businesses that want to reach customers aged 35 and up on a local, regional, or national scale. The average newspaper ad cost depends on the circulation of the paper, the size, day, and ink. A full-page ad can cost anywhere from $2,700 to over $100,000 depending on these factors, whereas small modular ads can cost as little as $50.
Print Newspaper Ad Costs
Print newspaper ad costs depend on the publication’s location and circulation size, as well as the color, frequency, and day of the week your ad is published. For example, a local paper may charge $12 per inch for a black and white ad, so a 4×10-inch ad would cost $480.
Here are some estimated newspaper ad costs when advertising in black and white in major newspapers:
Newspaper Ads Cost Comparison—Print Publications
Price for a
Los Angeles Times
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
San Francisco Chronicle
San Diego Union Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Albany Times Union (New York)
Albany Herald (Georgia)
*Estimated based on published rates and third party media purchasing outlets
While you can see that there’s a connection between circulation and price, the majority of newspaper ads cost less than the prices above. This can be due to one of two reasons: size and location.
Most newspaper ads take up a very small portion of a page, and so are priced accordingly (and much less) compared to full page newspaper ads. Location in the publication also matters greatly. Also, in most cases, a full-page ad will cost less than $1,000 in a small town newspaper (as opposed tens of thousands in a national publication).
Newspaper Ads Cost Comparison—Digital Publications
In addition to print ads, many newspapers also offer online ads that display on their websites. In a digital age, more and more readers are turning to the web to access news instead of turning pages of a physical paper. Some publications also offer discounted bundled options for print and digital placement that reduce your cost-per-ad.
Since materials don’t have to be printed and physically distributed, digital ads are typically much less costly than print ads. Pricing can range from as little as $50 for a local online paper with a small online audience to tens of thousands in major publications. Another option is to use social media or Google Display ads, which allows for a graphic design similar to digital newspaper ads but with different audience targeting options and a different pricing structure.
Newspaper Ad Pricing Structures
Once you have chosen the perfect newspaper to advertise with, the next decision is your ad size and placement. Size is one of the primary factors affecting newspaper ad cost, and it’s a top deciding factor for many small business owners. Ad size can be calculated based on price per column inch or modular pricing.
These are two standard print newspaper ad pricing methods:
- Price per column inch: A column inch is a unit of space pertaining to one column wide by 1 inch high. For example, if a newspaper charges $12 per column inch, an ad measuring four columns wide by 10 inches deep would cost $480. This is calculated by four columns x 10 inches = 40 column inches x $12 per column inch = $480.
- Modular pricing: With this type of pricing, newspapers charge based on set modules, such as full-page, half page, quarter page, and eighth page. Although the modules can be also described in column inches, they are easier to understand as set shapes or sizes.
These two pricing methods are more or less the same in that advertisers pay based on the size of the ad. When looking to purchase newspaper advertisements, you will likely find that the majority of newspapers use modular pricing as it’s generally easier to agree on and more straightforward.
Factors That Affect How Much Newspaper Ads Cost
There are various factors that determine how much it’s going to cost to advertise in a newspaper. The leading factors include the audience size in terms of circulation or readership, ad placement, size, and ad frequency. Generally, companies with tight budgets and those marketing a new business will find that local newspapers provide the best value while reaching a specific audience based on location.
These are the main factors that affect the pricing of newspaper ads:
- Circulation of the newspaper: The wider the circulation (subscribers to print editions, online viewers for digital newspapers, email distribution, and so on), the more likely you will pay more for an ad. Note that some newspapers will list their readership instead of circulation on the rate card. Readership number assumes that multiple people in a household will read the same paper; however, advertisers usually pay based on circulation.
- Size and color of the ad: The bigger the ad, the more it will cost. You may also pay more if you want your ad to run in color vs in black and white.
- Number of times your ad runs: If you run your ad multiple times, you will pay more overall, but your cost-per-ad will usually be discounted. Many newspapers offer deals that scale with the number of runs you purchase.
- Day of the week and section of the paper: Expect to pay the most for an ad that runs on Sunday. You will also pay more if you have your ad in the main section of the newspaper instead of the sports or travel section. Likewise, advertising on high-traffic online newspaper landing pages will usually cost more.
Of course, there are many other variables that can affect newspaper advertising rates. For example, some papers have more niche audiences that may yield higher rates, while others may have a seasonality that leads to pricing fluctuations by season or time of year.
How to Get a Discount on the Cost of Newspaper Ads
The largest variables in newspaper ad costs are the publication you choose and the type of audience you can reach. No matter which publication you choose, there are a few ways you can lower the cost of your newspaper ad. To save money on ads in newspapers, you can increase the number of times you advertise, ask for price breaks, and try local instead of national papers.
Here are three ways to get a discount on newspaper ad costs:
- Advertise multiple times: The number of times that you advertise in a newspaper—also known as frequency—may change how much you pay per column inch. These discounts should be listed in the newspaper’s rate card and can be broken down by the amount you spend or the number of column inches you purchase annually.
- Ask for discounts: Introductory rates are often available for new advertisers. You can also ask for your ad to be featured in a seasonal or special insert for lower-than-average rates. Sometimes, newspapers offer a remnant space rate that can be discounted up to 80% off the list price.
- Try local publications: If your business caters primarily to your local community, advertising in local or regional newspapers instead of national publications may yield better results for a lower cost. To find local papers, visit USNPL.
If newspaper advertising isn’t currently in your budget, consider digital advertising channels like Google Ads or Microsoft Ads. They work on a pay-per-click basis so you only pay when your audience interacts with your ad. Alternatively, you can look for alternative advertising options, like radio ads. See how much radio ads cost and decide if it’s worth it for your business.
How to Create Effective Ads That Yield a Return
You can have the best ad spot in the most widely read newspaper, but if your ad is not attention-grabbing, readers will skim over it. To make sure that your ads are ready to attract leads, start by choosing the right publication and ad placement. Next, write a great ad copy that speaks to your audience and eye-catching visuals for engagement. Then request a proof, approve your ad, and, lastly, track your ad’s performance.
Here’s what’s involved in creating a newspaper ad:
- Choose a newspaper with a readership that fits your target audience
- Select placement and ad size appropriate to your ad goals and budget
- Pinpoint your marketing message
- Design your ad (e.g., write copy, select graphics)
- Submit and request a proof
- Select dates and purchase ad placements
- Track ad performance (e.g., through sales, responses, leads generated, landing pages, digital ad metrics, and so on)
If you plan to make newspaper advertising a consistent element in your digital marketing mix, make sure to optimize your ad for online search. While ad optimization is more synonymous with content marketing for organic traffic, all of your online marketing should be optimized, including digital text and display ads.
In case you’re unsure of how to go about creating an effective newspaper ad, try hiring a professional newspaper designer and copywriter on Fiverr for as low as $5. As a top freelancing platform, you can also hire marketing professionals to help you keep track of your return on investment (ROI).
Newspaper Advertising Pros, Cons & Statistics
For decades, big and small businesses alike have reaped the benefits of newspaper advertising. You should carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of newspaper ads to make sure that you get the leads needed to justify your expenditure. Advantages include attracting a local audience and getting more brand exposure. However, newspaper ads have high competition and high costs, and you may find that people often do not read your ad.
|Reaches a large local audience||Declining newspaper subscriptions means a decline in overall reach|
|Attracts new customers||Can be difficult to measure ad performance|
|Targets based on broad interests||Not every reader will actually read your ad|
|More engaged audiences than digital ads||Can be a challenge to make your ad stand out|
|Opportunity to use coupon ads||Not as affordable as PPC ads|
|Seen as more trustworthy than digital ads|
While you decide whether the pros outweigh the cons, take a look at these newspaper advertising statistics to see if it’s right for your small business:
- Newspapers reach a large audience—total daily circulation is 24.3 million for weekday papers in the U.S. and 25.8 million for Sunday papers.
- Ninety-one percent of newspaper readers take action after reading something in a newspaper insert. This is an effective way to disseminate coupons, which can be used to track your ad’s performance.
- Newspaper ads can be an effective way to build trust in your brand—82% of consumers trust ads on printed media (including newspapers), and 73% of Americans trust local media in general.
- Twenty percent of news readers subscribe to online newspapers, and this number has been rising, although 40% of readers refuse to read premium online news content.
- Around 44 million millennials read either print or digital newspapers.
- More than 71% of U.S. adults with a household income of over $100,000 read the news weekly. If you’re selling a product or a service, part of deciding on your audience is determining their spending power.
Newspaper Advertising Alternatives
Newspaper ads provide businesses with an effective way to distribute marketing messages to a wide audience. However, they aren’t right for every business and should only be one part of your overall marketing mix. In addition to (or instead of) newspaper ads, consider alternatives like earned media, billboards, radio, television, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on search engines and social media channels, as well as optimizing your online content for search.
Here are top newspaper advertising alternatives:
- Earned media: Instead of incurring newspaper ad costs for paid advertisements, try pitching article ideas in order to get free national or local press coverage. Learn more about how to use press releases to get publicity and increase brand exposure.
- Billboard advertising: Why wait for readers to open the paper? Instead, reach them on the road through billboard advertising.
- Radio advertising: In some cases, text-based ads aren’t the best medium for delivering your marketing message. Radio ads can be a good alternative to newspaper ads, and pricing ranges from around $200 to $5,000 per week. Get more information on radio advertising.
- Television advertising: Those with larger marketing budgets should also consider whether TV ads might be a good channel for promoting a video-based message to a wide audience. Learn more about TV advertising.
- Paid search: People are actively searching for the products and services that your business offers, but that alone won’t ensure your website lands at the top of search results. To boost your business to the top, use paid search ads.
- Paid social: Like newspaper ads, paid social ads are displayed to a specific audience, even though they’re not actively seeking your product or service. However, social ads are generally one of the most affordable forms of pay-per-click advertising and can be highly effective for many businesses. Learn more about the cost to advertise on Facebook.
- Search engine optimization: While paid search and social are good for short-term marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) is a great long-term marketing strategy. SEO will help your site get found in search engines organically, increasing your exposure at no cost to you. Learn more about search engine marketing and how you can take advantage of it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are newspaper ad costs higher for premium ad space?
Ad prices are higher for premium space—like the front page of a print newspaper or a landing page of a digital media outlet. This is simply because the newspaper knows that more people read that section of the paper, and therefore, advertisers get more exposure. These high-traffic areas also sometimes feature color advertising as opposed to just black-and-white ads.
Are there advantages to digital advertising instead of print?
While most people still associate newspaper advertising with print, you may have the option to advertise on your chosen newspaper’s website. While print subscriptions have declined, digital subscriptions have increased, so putting an ad online is a good option for your small business. As a plus, studies have shown that combining print and digital ads yields substantially better results as they expose your ad to a wider audience.
Does the newspaper have an ad designer?
Most newspapers have ad designers who can create an ad for your campaign. However, it is better to create your own or hire someone—like a freelancer at Fiverr—to design one for you. This allows you to create an advertisement specific to your audience, brand, and services or products. Many ad designers at newspapers simply plug information into stock templates without necessarily considering what would work best for your business and campaign.
Traditional newspaper advertising is a great way to promote products and services to a wide audience, though the average newspaper ad cost could be too high for a small business. To be effective, you need to find the right place to advertise, research the cost, sizes, and placements of the ad, and design a professional-quality ad. Also, be sure you measure the results of your campaign so that you can improve ongoing placements and future campaigns.
Need help with ad design? Hire a Fiverr professional to create a custom newspaper ad for your next campaign.