These days, magazine ads have fallen out of favor as an efficient form of advertising.
Magazine readership is at all-time low yet print ads continue to be one of the most expensive advertising mediums. As a result, many business owners have redeployed their marketing dollars, moving away from print ads to online marketing channels.
Yet magazine advertising isn't necessarily as dire as it seems. When it's integrated into a larger, multichannel marketing strategy, this form of advertising is still capable of delivering impressive results. The problem is that advertisers find it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of print ads, especially when compared to the instant gratification of online marketing metrics and monitoring solutions.
Unless your sole purpose for purchasing print ads is to promote general brand awareness, it's a waste of time and resources to buy ads in magazines without incorporating some kind of tracking system. There are several different ways to track magazine ad performance – you just need to pick the one that's right for your company.
In addition to general brand awareness ads, there are two types of ads that can be tracked for performance: direct response ads and tracking mechanism ads.
Direct Response Ads
Direct response ads do exactly what the name implies – they encourage the reader to directly respond to the ad by buying the product or by requesting more information. In the "old days", direct response ads were all about mailing in a response card. Today's direct response ads take a more sophisticated approach, inviting readers to use a promo code for a purchase or to download a link to their PC or mobile device.
To track the effectiveness of a direct response ad, you'll need to either use unique promo codes or monitor responses (e.g. sales volumes) during magazine ad campaigns. Is it an exact science? No – but it should give you a sense about whether your magazine ads are having at least some impact.
Tracking Mechanism Ads
Tracking mechanism ads tend to be the most accurate way to track the effectiveness of a magazine ad. Instead of promo codes or direct responses, these ads feature unique 800 numbers or web URLs. The amount of traffic to the URL and the volume of calls received through the 800 number directly correlate to the effectiveness of the magazine ad. Although tracking mechanism ads can be useful in a variety of scenarios, they are especially important when conducting side-by-side comparisons of ad formats.