Does Your Paper Reflect the Spending Habits of the American Consumer?

ConsumersIn the U.S., nearly 70% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is based on consumption. In fact, Americans spend a little over $11.2 trillion on goods and services.

The breakdown is about 65% on ”services,” such as housing, health care, travel, education, entertainment and personal care. The remaining 35% is spent on ”goods.” Economists tend to split the goods category into two types: 22% of spending on goods is non-durables (every day items such as clothing, groceries, fuel and household items); the other 13% of spending on goods is toward larger and less frequent purchases like cars, trucks, tractors, furniture and appliances.

Of course -depending on age, life-stage, income and a host of other factors- each of us may have somewhat different ratios of services to goods. Nevertheless, the ”average American consumer” spends about 65% on services and 35% on non-durable and durable goods each year.

The question you might want to be asking is -how well do the ads in your pages reflect what Americans are buying?

Over the past month, the Print Observer has profiled four local dailies (one in Vermont, Indiana, Washington State and Texas.) For each paper, we tabulated and analyzed the ad space in a recent Sunday edition. The analytics included: the number of ads overall and in each ad category; the total ad inches, total inches for each ad category and the average size of the ads in each category relative to the average size of all the ads in the section.

Pie chart

Looking back at the data, it’s interesting to note how well the advertising categories represented in the papers compare to consumer spending habits. Across the four dailies we reviewed, the average number of ads in the services category was 48%, the average in the non-durables category was 30% and the average in the durables category was 28%.

  • The services category (housing, health care, restaurants etc.) had a range of 68% to a low of 28%.
  • In non-durables (groceries, clothes, household items etc.) the high was 49% and the low was 4%.
  • In the durables category (autos, furniture, appliances etc.) the high was 28% and two papers had no advertising at all for durables.
  • Two papers also had a large number of house ads and/or political.

We only looked at four Sunday papers so this small sample is not necessarily indicative of the trends in newspapers across the country. However, the four papers were all mid-size dailies in small cities that are not unlike most other small cities in America so the averages across the basic categories are likely to be proximate.

Ultimately, considering where your readers spend the bulk of their dollars (65% services/35% goods) is as good a guide as any for targeting the kinds of advertisers that are likely to do well in your pages. If you’re at 60% or better for services and 30%-40% for goods, you at least know your publication is aligned well with general consumer spending habits and you’re at about the level of advertising, in each category, readers can tolerate.

Post by Jim Jinks


The Top 5 Reasons Advertisers Buy Print Ads (And How to Design Them)

verschiedene Zeitschriften

Advertisers buy ads in newspapers and magazines for a variety of reasons, and for each reason there is a corresponding way to design the ad to make the most out of the space. Here are a few of the most common reasons advertisers we work with purchase print ads, and some of the attributes of ads that we’ve seen work well.

1.) General Branding – These ads lend themselves to the most creativity. Most companies use branding ads to position themselves in the marketplace and create a memorable image in the reader’s mind. The goal is to get consumers to recognize a brand instantly, and associate certain values and ideas with the brand. For example, these companies have done an amazing job with branding over the years, and are ranked as the top brands globally according to Interbrand. So how do you craft a successful branding ad?

a.) Distinct Logo – Companies use a unique, distinct logo that they showcase in print and other mediums.

b.) Eye-Catching/Evocative  Imagery – Print ads won’t work if the images are boring or easily flipped by. From beautiful photography to unbelievably creative illustrations and design, the images branding ads use must make the reader stop in their tracks and take notice.

c.) Memorable Slogan – Whether it’s Nike’s “Just Do It” or McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It”, most branding ads use a short, memorable slogan that sticks with a reader.

d.) Repetition – It takes a while to drill messaging into the subconscious minds of consumers. If the goal is branding, advertisers must buy many ads over the course of time to drive home the message.

Branding Ad Sample We Like:


2.) Direct-Response – Direct-response advertising’s main purpose is straightforward – to get as many people to respond to the ad as possible, as soon as possible. Here are some direct-response ad features we’ve seen work well:

a.) Compelling Offer to Consumer – The ad either offers a deep discount or other special incentive to the consumer to respond right away.
b.) Large/Easy-To-Read Response Mechanism – Whether it’s a phone number or website, the ad has to give the reader an easy way to respond.

c.) Enough Information for Consumer to Take Action – Giving consumers bait to call to learn more is one thing, but you always want to make sure to include enough information and description about the product or service to help them make an informed decision to call/visit. This leads to a high-intent, qualified potential customer.

Direct-Response Ad Sample We Like:

Image Source

3.) Event Marketing – Advertisers often use print to advertise an event they’re hosting. Here’s what to include in event ads:

a.) Clear Description of Date/Time – Make sure to include the who, what, when, where why & how in the Event Description. The more questions you leave with readers, the less likely they are to attend your event.

b.) Clear RSVP Instructions – If your event requires an RSVP, make sure you include a prominent way for readers to get in touch with you.

Event Marketing Ad Sample We Like:EventSample

4.) Classified Advertising – Classified ads are affordable text ads often found in the back of newspapers and magazines. Typically these are local ads, but sometimes national companies use them too.

a.) Clear, Concise Text – The main thing about a classified ad is you have to fit a lot of info in a little space, so copy is key. It must be short, to the point, and include a phone number.

Classified Sample We Like:
Switch to DIRECTV and get a $100 Gift Card. FREE Whole-Home Genie HD/DVR upgrade.  Starting at $19.99/mo.  New Customers Only.  Don’t settle for cable. Call Now 1-800-XXXX

5.) Local Retail Sales – This ad type is typically for local advertisers who are looking to get the word out about sales at their brick and mortar stores in their community.

a.) Clear Description of Discount/Sale Items  – This type of ad usually features a limited time sale or showcase of products that are on sale for a specific date range.

b.) Store Hours/Contact Information/Directions – Since these are local businesses, location information is very important.

Local Retail Sample Ad We Like:

Are you looking to place some print advertising? MediaBids can help. Shoot us an email at or call 1-860-379-9602.

Post by Jessica Greiner