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How To Buy Newspaper Space at 80% Off List – Remnant Space

Jeffrey Dobkin

Jeffrey Dobkin

Remnant Space: How to Buy Newspaper Ad Space at 80% Off List

Remnant Space means big discounts in placing media – and lowering your costs in direct response advertising rates.  Discount pricing in remnant space media costs are available in both newspaper advertising and in magazine advertising, as well as radio and TV time.

Surprisingly, there’s not much chatter about buying newspaper and magazine ads at discounted remnant space rates in direct marketing inner circles — even from serious advertisers who place large numbers of direct response ads in national newspapers and magazines. Funny, because direct response print-ads are a huge category of direct marketing, second only to direct mail. Yet, not a word.

Even without the direct marketing industry buzz, discounted direct response stand-by ad space continues to make print advertising a profitable media to buy, and print advertising is on quite a grand scale. I guess no one likes to divulge all their secrets, especially when they’re making big money at it.

With newspaper remnant space advertising, direct response offers can be tested inexpensively, and successful marketing ad venues can be rolled out to millions of specifically targeted readers… if you’re clever.  Newspaper advertising is usually considered a mass media, which it  certainly is – but the savvy marketer relies on a few tricks of the trade to target specific groups of readers through this broad media.  Stay tuned for some of my best tips to help you figure out some of the ins and outs of targeting newspaper advertisements.

Rollouts of remnant space advertising can be extremely profitable because the weekly circulation figures of several newspapers who accept highly discounted ads are surprisingly high. Run-of-press direct response newsprint ads can reach well over 50 million readers. Each week.

Buying Remnant Newspaper Space

The first key to successful direct-response newspaper advertising is buying the media cost effectively.  That means the first words you should think about in buying newspaper ads at huge discounts are “Remnant Space!”

Also called “standby space,” Remnant Space is the leftover blocks of newspaper advertising space that remain unsold in the publication’s last closing minutes — right before the newspaper’s final page composition and the newspaper goes on press.

Remnant space is also commonly found in magazine advertising, where last-minute ad placements of quickly-negotiated last minute remnant space ad rates can be as steeply discounted as 70%, 80% and 90% off list price of the original ad placement cost.   You’d be pretty surprised at which hugely popular magazines quietly offer highly discounted advertising space rate as the closing dates of their publication grows near.

In some of the remnant ad campaigns I’ve run for clients over the years,
I’ve personally seen newspaper remnant space offered as high as 93% off the rate card rate.

Yikes!  93% off traditional advertising rates!  What a great opportunity to test publications for effectiveness of advertising campaigns without the associated huge expense.

The Downside of Remnant Space Buys

The downside of standby space is… sometimes the ads don’t run.  Or your advertisements aren’t placed in the schedule you’d like them to run.

Unlike traditional ads that you pay list price for and they absolutely do run in the publication you select and on the date you contracted for, remnant space ads may or may not be published depending on how much space the newspaper or magazine has left over at the tail end of the publishing cycle.

When placing ads in remnant space programs in newspapers, advertisers usually give the publisher a window of a few weeks when they can run the ads.

In newspapers, your remnant space ad is commonly run within a two or three week window.  After this amount of time if the ad hasn’t yet run, the placement order is cancelled and a new insertion order must be written to continue your offer to buy ad space.

Magazines sometimes have a similar two or three issue cycle, but usually each issue and each ad is negotiated go or no-go basis individually.

To enter a remnant advertising space or stand-by ad program, ads must be ready to go, with final art in the exact size of the ad.  So if you are looking to start a campaign you’ll need a finished ad in the correct size for immediate placement.

In most cases the advertisement – either electronically or a hard copy of art and graphic – is sent to the publisher early, so the publisher can issue approval of the creative, and have the creative on hand so it is ready to be inserted into the publication in the last minutes of the closing of the newspaper pagination and printing cycle.

In this electronic age it’s also usually OK to just let the publisher know you have the ad already composed at the right size and can beam it over in an instant by email, although many, many publishers want to see a copy of the ad before that last second so they can approve it.  Not all ads – or offers – get approved.  In fairness to the publishers I don’t blame them: some of the advertisements and offers can be sketchy.  Once printed, a sketchy ad will reflect poorly on the publication.

Testing Stand-by or Remnant Space at a Local Level:

On a smaller geographic scale than buying remnant space on a national level, buying remnant newspaper space can be as simple as calling your local newspaper space sales rep and letting him or her know you’re interested in purchasing  an ad in their publication if they ever offer remnant space.

They won’t like it, but after you receive their bullish pitch on the value of buying space at the full list price of open rate, feel free to request the rep call you back if some remnant space options become available.  This is nice phrasing of this question and lets them off the hook to discount your ad if they have open space.

Hang up the phone after letting the ad rep or publisher know you have an ad “ready to go” in the exact size they need for immediate placement.

Don’t worry – while some publishers hold fast, lots of publishers will deal. Most will call you back when the space is available.  It’s revenue for them.

Most publishers don’t like to heavily discount their ad space rates, but no publisher likes unsold space – where they must run house ads to cover a blank space where an ad was pulled last minute in the page layout.

Eventually a remnant space for your ad size will open up – it always does.  OK, usually.

While some publishers won’t discount their media space, many will – and you never know until you ask.

Buying National Remnant Space

For multiple ad runs and national ad placement buys, you can try to negotiate and purchase leftover ad space with any of the thousands of papers nationwide. Keep in mind most publishers won’t want to deal with you: what a pain in the neck, time consuming and lots of effort for a smaller than usual $$$ number.

If you thought that was an incredible mess – negotiating with each publisher – wait until you have to cut individual checks up front to each newspaper who may or may not run your ad. Or suffer the horrors of newspapers billing you, and individual checks cut for each each newspaper or magazine for each insertion. So if your ad goes into 200 publications each month, ugh…  What a mess.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and it isn’t.

How to purchase Remnant space advertising nationally

When your buys are national in scope, you can purchase remnant space in bulk from firms specializing in “remnant space ad distribution” services.

They’re already connected to papers and magazines who regularly place remnant space ads.  They’ve already negotiated the best prices for you, then they’ll transmit your ads to the various newspapers who accept remnant space purchase orders.  Most publishers are happy to do it even at the steeply discounted rate you are paying.

I’ve overseen clients campaigns for 25 years or so.  Initial newspaper and magazine placements are for testing response.  As more ads are placed, good agencies will figure out how to make your campaign more responsive.

After a few ad placements I have always analyzed the results and recommend a focused campaign of ad placements for clients.  I directed the campaign to run in urban, suburban, or rural newspapers, select the newspaper circulations of their best response and buy similar sized newspapers; make buys across selected parts of the county – north, south, east west, northeast, southwest, souther border, mid country, Bible belt and so forth; then select states and sections of states and everything in between including selected zip codes – to get the highest response and lowest customer acquisition cost.

We ran until ads fatigue, then take some time off – then run again.  I analyze each placement and its response…  and figure out how to get my client’s ads to be even more effective over time.  It’s very interesting work.  I don’t do it much anymore (semi-retired) but I’m still pretty savvy with strong ties to the good guys in the industry.  It’s a gnarly industry for the most part and scary to do business with most firms.

Over the past 20 years I’ve purchased lots of ads for clients at an incredible 85% – 93% off list; almost all the remnant newspaper ads I’ve bought for clients are at least 85% off list prices.  If you know what you’re doing you can save hundreds of thousands of dollars by buying discounted ad rates for years.  If you’re interested I can probably make some quality recommendations, please give me a call at 610-642-1000.  While I’m out of office quite a bit, I’m pretty good at calling back.  You can also reach me by email at Jeff @ Dobkin . com, geeky guy that I turned out to be…

Publishers are glad to give your ad insertion order a steeply discount newspaper rate:

It’s in the best interest of the publisher to help you create a successful newspaper or magazine print campaign.  If you are successful your remnant space ad campaign you can run ad space consistently in their publication for years.

Like two day old fish or a seat in an airplane when the door closes, ad space in newspapers is perishable. Once the news   Continue reading…

Jeffrey Dobkin

Jeffrey Dobkin

Jeffrey Dobkin creates highly responsive traditional and direct response print ads for both newspapers and magazines. He is the author of 5 books on direct marketing, and two on humor. Mr. Dobkin is a direct marketing writer and graphic designer whose specialty is creating effective direct response space ads, letters; and direct mail. To speak with Mr. Dobkin or for samples of his work call 610/642-1000. Visit him at his favorite website:  Wait… you… you’re already here!  Hope you are enjoying this website, thanks for visiting!