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Getting the Most from your Magazine Advertising

Magazines Canada ( published an interesting guide titles Magazine Essentials: making the most of magazines. They have compiled an assortment of answers to the most common questions asked by media planners, and it is good information for anyone planning to publish a print or digital magazine.

Some interesting facts and observations are:

  • The physical size of the page does not affect readership. This is most important to know for print publishers, but the fact that page size is not a general concern to magazine readers is meaningful for digital publishers also. Format does not have to be the defining factor of a publication.
  • Color ads have more impact than black and white, which is almost a non-issue these days, and left-hand and right-hand positioning within the publication does not seem to be of consequence.
  • Ads are effective throughout the publication, with only the inside-front, inside-back and outside-back covers having a measurable difference in effectiveness.
  • Cover spreads and ad size does have an impact on ad effectiveness.
  • Multi-page ads (a series of ads in direct succession) does increase the impact of all ads in the series.
  • Advertorials, also now known as curated content, are very effective in delivering new products and information to consumers.
  • Premium offers with interactive elements increase ad impact
  • “Creative wear out” is a term used to define the point at which an advertisement begins to lose the ability to achieve the objective intended by the advertiser. This does not seem to be a problem. Research suggests that the ‘active process of reading’ plus the ability to spend as much time as the reader wishes with an ad, helps ensure communication of detailed ad messages
  • Headlines are a very important part of an article or advertisement. The color of the headline, the position on the page, the number of words used and whether the headline is positive or negative all have significant effects on reader “stick”.
  • Picture size matters and photos pull better than illustrations. Interestingly, the size of the actual product shot does not have much of an impact.
  • The less body copy within the ad, the greater the impact the ad will have.
  • The size of a product name in an ad can have an effect on reader recall and recognition.
  • Also interesting, and counter-intuitive, is the finding that the number of brand mentions in an ad has little impact on recognition.


The most important factors in creating appealing, effective advertisements for digital and print magazines are very similar. Basically, the most effective magazine ads are created specifically for magazines. High visual appeal maximizes stopping power and maintains consumer involvement in the ad. While magazines are great for communicating a long or detailed message, leave that for articles and editorials. Visual simplicity promotes interest in advertisements.

The three most important measures of the success or failure of an advertisement are:

  1. The size of the audience that remembered seeing the ad.
  2. The number of people who looked at the ad long enough to learn what brand was being advertised.

Whether or not the ad was strong enough to pull the reader through most of the ad.