The Guide for First-Time Print Buyers

Thinking of integrating print advertising into your next marketing campaign, but you’re unfamiliar with the common jargon associated with print? You’re not alone!

Below are some frequently asked questions clients have when integrating print into their campaigns.

Getting started by understanding sizing…

One of the first and most important items to understand is the sizing and format of newspapers. There are two different types of newspapers: a standard broadsheet (think the Denver Post or New York Times) and a tabloid size (think your community newspaper). Tabloid size newspapers are not to be confused with the tabloid magazines, like the National Enquirer, that you see in the checkout aisle of the supermarket.

Broadsheet newspapers generally measure nine columns of classifieds and six columns of display advertising and on average measure 21.5 inches deep. Tabloids (or tabs) usually measure about ten inches wide and thirteen inches deep – generally about five columns.

So you’re probably wondering, but what are columns? And what is that whole “column inches thing?”

First off, you should know that not all newspapers measure ad space in columns by inches. As a general rule of thumb, broadsheet newspapers will generally be sold in column inch units, and tabs will generally be sold in modular units. There are a few exceptions in which tab ad space is sold in column inch units, but generally it’s a good rule to follow.

A column inch is measured one column wide by one inch tall. So a 5 x 7 ad in a standard broadsheet newspaper measures 5 columns wide by 7 inches high, for a total of 35 column inches.

You may also be wondering what the standard size of a column is. The answer is simple: there isn’t one. Column sizes vary from paper to paper – which is something to be conscious of when your designers are building the actual ad.

Advertisements can be ordered in any column inch format. For example: 4x2 (4 columns wide, 2 inches high) or 2x4 (2 columns wide, 4 inches high) are the same number of column inches but have a different look.

They are then priced in a per-column-inch format. For instance, the open rate may be $5 per column inch (pci). Take that rate, multiply it by the total ad area (35 column inches) and voilà, you’ve got the total cost for your 5 column x 7 inch ad – $175. Keep in mind, these rates usually don’t include color, unless otherwise specified. Color is generally billed at an additional pci rate, though some papers have a flat rate for color.

When talking about modular sizing, think of a flat rate postal box at the USPS. You know how a small box ships for a flat rate, medium box ships for a larger flat rate, so on and so forth? Modular sizing in a newspaper works similarly. The newspaper has designated ad sizes (designed to ease the layout process of their paper) which are sold at a flat rate, meaning, a quarter page ad is sold for a flat rate, a half page ad is sold for a different flat rate, so on and so forth.

Okay, so what if I want to place a quarter page ad in a broadsheet newspaper?

You can still do that! Just ask your rep to help you convert that to columns by inches. This works the other way, too. If you’re managing a multiple publication print campaign buy and you want to keep the sizing consistent, your newspaper rep can help you find the closest modular sizing equivalent to a 3 x 10 ad.

I’ve heard the terms display advertising and classified advertising tossed around; what’s the difference?

Think of when you are flipping through a newspaper…you know all the ads that you see alongside the editorial content? Those are what we refer to as display ads. Display advertisements are those which can appear on any page throughout the newspaper (we also refer to this as ROP – meaning “run of paper” or “run of press”. Classified ads on the other hand have their own designated section: the classifieds.

Because display ads and classified ads are separate in the newspaper, the departments in which they’re sold are also usually separate. So it is not unusual to work with two different reps at a newspaper when buying display and classified. Keep in mind, in regards to classified ads, there are classified liner ads (strictly text) and classified display ads which contain both graphics – like a logo – and text).

Okay, so now you understand sizing and basic pricing within a newspaper. It’s also important to understand the production process that goes into the newspaper.

Most newspapers have an in-house creative department, so they are usually available to design your advertisement for you. This is generally (but again, not an across the board rule) included in the cost of the ad space. The designers will work with you to ensure you provide them with the correct file types, logos, etc. You will be supplied a proof, which is a copy of the ad that will be provided to you prior to publication for purposes of corrections.

For those of you who work for an ad agency and are buying print for your client, you probably have an in-house creative department and will likely be supplying the newspaper with the already created ad, or what is known as a camera-ready ad. Prior to having your designers begin the creative process, I always suggest checking with your rep to verify production requirements.

Be sure to ask questions like:

• Do you require a bleed (the portion of your design that extends past the trim size, which will be cut off when the publication is trimmed to final size) on camera-ready ads?

• What type of file format is preferred? What is not acceptable?

• What color format should be used on full color (4C) ads? (Generally the answer to this question will be CMYK)

• What is your 3 column, 4 column, etc. inch equivalent? (This will most likely be discussed when you are buying/reserving ad space, but in case it hasn’t it is definitely important that you ask so that your ad is built to the size it was reserved for).

Asking questions like this on the front end will ensure a smooth process when you come up on deadline day and are submitting your ad. I promise you that your designers will be thankful for you asking these questions, too!

Once your ad prints on publication day, it is likely that you will want to see it. Understandable!

Most clients and agencies require some sort of proof of publication prior to issuing payment for the advertisement. Proof of an ad running is known as a tearsheet. In the pre-digital age, the actual page that contained the ad would be physically torn from the newspaper and sent to the advertiser as proof of publication.

As we have shifted to a digital driven environment, tearsheets have evolved to what is known as an e-tearsheet, which is simply an electronic pdf version of the page. While there are still a handful of newspapers out there that may submit tearsheets in a physical, old-fashioned format to you, you are more likely to see tearsheets come to you digitally.

So whether this is your first time integrating print media into your advertising campaign, or it’s your third, we hope this puts you at ease as you incorporate print into your next media buy.

Gabbi Steele is the Advertising Assistant at Colorado Press Network. She is a millennial who knows the power and value of integrating print advertising into a multi-platform advertising approach, in an ever-so digital-driven age.

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