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Remnant Space

Buying Remnant Newspaper Ad Space at 80% Off List! Continued…

Like two day old fish or a seat in an airplane when the door closes, ad space in newspapers is perishable. Once the newspaper heads towards the pressroom the unsold ad space can no longer generate revenue and a house ad is used as a placeholder.

As the unsold newspaper space heads towards these final unprofitable moments, most publishers take what they can get for the space, knowing if it remains unsold and the paper actually goes on press, they get nothing.

At this critical point in time most offers, even heavily discounted offers, look lip-smacking good to struggling publishers.

Presto: found revenue for the publishers, great discounts for advertisers!

Standby space ads can be a good, consistent ad-buy for advertisers throughout the year. Ads run at a discount of between 70% to 90% discount OFF list rates, and sometimes sell for even less, especially at low-demand periods like late summer and pre- and post-Christmas (most direct-selling ad offers are not gift oriented).

Standby space or remnant space ads in newspapers may be placed through several national placement sources specializing in remnant space buys.  Most newspaper space is sold by firms dedicated to just selling standby space at discount. Since they do this all the time they get the best prices, and consistently great deals come from publishers. I assist several clients by overseeing their newsprint buys as it’s a seedy business and my clients need someone who can make smart recommendations of the right papers, the right markets, at the right prices and the right timing and someone they can trust.  While buying one or two ads at remnant pricing is easy, it can be very tough to manage a whole campaign correctly.  Especially a campaign run over time.  I’ve worked with some clients for years.

There is ALWAYS space available somewhere.

At one time or another all newspapers face the problem of a pages with white space left over at the last minute. This ranges from stories that are cut or pulled, or not quite ready at press time, to a bad credit check on that new client who sounded so legit on the phone when he reserved the space.

In addition, advertisers pulling out at the last minute and last-second glitches in production make room for your warmly-welcomed, on-hand remnant space ads.

Last second advertisers pulling out their ad make printers and composition editors drink heavily. So having a few ads of various sizes “on the shelf” that editors can go to and strip-in at the last second is a welcome reprieve.

Remnant Space Buying Details

Remnant space ads I purchase for my clients are in blocks of selected circulations, loosely outlined by either geographic boundaries (states, cities) or by selected target individual newspapers groups where my client would like to run ads.

Further demographics may be targeted by purchasing press runs in urban, suburban, or rural papers.

Larger daily papers may be specified in the insertion order, as can smaller news weeklies.

Additionally in some papers, both traditional and direct response ads can be requested to run in selected sections if you negotiate correctly. So ads can be positioned to run in the main news, the business or local sections, or in the TV section for papers that still have that. You must request this up-front when booking advertising.

While most – if not all – magazines are now printed in full color (so you’ll need a color ad), newspapers still remain primarily black and white vehicles. Exceptions occur, but this isn’t the way to bet.

Black and white ads: still the norm.  Just like the predominance of the ads you saw in TV Guide when you were a kid – are still effective in newspaper media.

Even when printed in color, the predominance of black and white of other ads in newsprint, and the B&W of the restrained editorial typography defines a vehicle where black and white ads are OK.

This works to the advantage of the direct marketer where good old black and white ad composition can be less costly. This can keep the creative cost for writing and laying-out an ad to a reasonable cost level. But don’t go cheap.

Keep in mind that great design, great copywriting – in color or black and white – takes time and effort. Don’t hold back on the creativity.

Allow extra design time to make your black and white ad jump out from the page. And extra copywriting time to make sure your copy is succinct, yet your offer sizzles — and makes the reader want to pick up the phone and Call Now!

Don’t go for the cheapest creative you can buy as a poorly conceived, poorly written or poorly designed ads definitely draw less response whether in color or black and white.

Besides newspapers, most magazines offer remnant prices at one point or another. You’d be surprised at some of the famous, huge national magazines offering 70%, 80%, 90% off their list rates. I’d list these but I’m pretty sure none of the magazines would like their names associated with the severely discounted ad prices, and some of them feature my writing. Cough, Cough… Cou…Forbes…gh. Cough…PopularScience. Cough…WorkingMother… But I can tell you it’s ALWAYS good to ask for remnant space pricing. Always.

Testing different demographics in Remnant Space Advertising:  

Testing is definitely a key factor in successful newspaper advertising.

Media buys can be national in scope, but you can also buy newspaper remnant space across a platform of specific smaller demographics.

For example, you can specify that you’d like a million circulation in LA Times, in the hopes your offer will work for a strong urban demographic.

Or, you can test a dozen smaller papers from urban to suburban to rural to see which ones elicit the highest response to your offer.

You can purchase space in selected states or “test cities” that are known to be more responsive to new products and offers; or combine ad placement with product testing and price testing for product launches in retail stores.

Additionally, advertisers generally get a good choice of geographic markets.

Initial testing should be broad, with tight tracking of both calls per thousand dollars spent, and calls per thousand circulation reached. The closing ratio for these figures will offer insight as to which types of demographic works best for your offer.

Specific newspaper sections may be purchased such as the movie pages or the business section. Since it’s remnant space, there are no guarantees that your ad will be running in a particular paper or in a particular section, or on a particular date. There is usually a two or three week window given to newspapers to feature your ad. At the end of this period, if the ad doesn’t run the contract is canceled.

Both the distribution bureaus and the newspapers try to accommodate their advertisers. As with any advertising medium, all the players would like the ad to be successful: if the ad is successful and the marketer makes money, both the ad-space distributor and the newspapers enjoy the revenue from the advertiser’s longer insertion schedules.

When the ad runs and a response is generated, advertisers can get a printout of names of papers where the ad appeared, sometimes referencing the section where the ad was run, along with the newspaper’s circulation. These figures are used for tracking, and can be paired with call center reports to see how the ad is pulling.

Reports then identify more profitable market segments, and ROI analysis. When all the figures are in from the initial placement testing, back-end analysis is performed: it’s either an autopsy or a celebration — where the marketers figure out a more focused comprehensive plan to direct further placements of ads.

Successful ads, as well as being placed in large circulations of papers, may run for years. I’ve seen small ads grow from tiny remnant space placements in tiny circulations in papers here and there to huge press runs – millions of placements… each week.

Continue reading…   The Secrets of How To Create a Successful Newspaper Ad

Jeffrey Dobkin

Jeffrey Dobkin

Bio —
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 whose specialty is creating effective direct response ads, letters; and direct mail. He also helps clients buy ad space in newspapers and magazines at tremendous discounts off list price.  To speak with Mr. Dobkin or for samples of his work call 610/642-1000. Visit him at his favorite website: