The following article, as you will read, was written to assist advertisers in planning their advertising to achieve better results. ADP is posting the article, which lists several strong “Pros” for the Yellow Pages, in the belief that the better Yellow Pages salespeople understand the thoughts driving advertiser decisions, the more effective they will be in demonstrating the effectiveness of the Yellow Pages, both as a stand-alone medium or as part of an effective media mix.

-ADP President Larry Angove

Using Advertising Media More Effectively:

How To Pick The Best Media

What advertising media should you use to promote your business? Simple. Use the one that is most influential and believable, and that comprehensively reaches the highest percentage of your target audience for the lowest cost.

Is that easy? No.

There are many advertising media options for reaching your target audience. This chapter covers the relative strengths and weaknesses of different types of advertising media, and specifically explains how to choose the most effective printed advertising media.

This is a long chapter with a lot of important content. The information will help you to plan your advertising and to get better results, even if you are only choosing what local paper to run your ad in.

Pick An Advertising Media Category

The first decision to make is what category or combination of categories of advertising media to use [newspaper, magazine, radio, direct mail, television, telemarketing, direct sales, yellow pages, outdoor, etc.]

Note that we did not say that the first decision was what the company could afford. It is a fundamental mistake to buy any advertising media that you can’t afford to use effectively, or that will not generate the volume of sales you need to stay in business.

Many companies decide what advertising media to use too fast, and they base the decision on too little information. Don’t make assumptions about what you should do until you get some information. And you absolutely do not want to make media decisions based on what media sales rep knocks on your door.

A clearly defined set of goals for your advertising campaign will help you to choose the best advertising media available. Know what you want your advertising to do, so that you can measure the results and make decisions accordingly.

A realistic budget should indicate which advertising media could be effectively used for your campaign. And understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses between the different advertising media will help you to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

Advertising Media Strengths & Weaknesses

Very broadly, different advertising media are better at doing different things. Depending on your type of business and your target audience, one advertising media will be better than another for effectively conveying your message.

For example, photo reproduction quality may be critical to your products. Or information content might be critical. Having a personal conversation may be important. Offering a coupon or a sale price may be the key to success. Timing may be critical. Receiving information from an expected and credible source is hugely important.

Newspapers As An Advertising Media


  • Newspapers get 21.5% of all U.S. advertising expenditures.
  • Newspaper ads rank highest for believability for all media.
  • High local coverage and immediate [daily] delivery of your message.
  • Excellent mass media [almost everybody reads the newspaper].
  • An interactive medium [people hold it, save it, write on it, cut coupons, etc.].
  • Flexibility in production: low cost, fast turnaround, ad shapes, size, excellent quality for inserts.
  • Special targeted sections and shopping guides.
  • Extraordinarily high Sunday readership.


  • Very busy/cluttered competitive environment [must compete against other ads and the newspaper copy].
  • Little control over ad placement.
  • Low production quality.
  • Hard to target your specific audience.
  • Short life span [24 hours].

Radio As An Advertising Media


  • Radio gets 8% of all U.S. advertising expenditures.
  • Immediate delivery of message and high frequency of message [you can repeat several times per day].
  • Local audience. Selectivity by format. High availability.
  • Low cost per thousand [CPM] exposures.
  • Low cost production.
  • Reach an exclusive and captive [mobile] audience.


  • Limited to audio message.
  • High channel switching.
  • Your message expires immediately [no shelf life].
  • High advertising clutter.

Television As An Advertising Media


  • Broadcast and cable television combined get 23.4% of all U.S. advertising expenditures.
  • Immediate delivery of message and high frequency of message [you can repeat several times per day].
  • Very high impact – TV is the best for stimulating the senses.
  • High mass audience coverage, high prestige.
  • Low cost per thousand [CPM] exposures.
  • Local regional emphasis, cable audience availability, some audience selectivity.


  • Very high costs of production and airtime.
  • Limited audience selectivity.
  • Your message expires immediately [no shelf life].
  • High advertising clutter.
  • High channel switching.

Direct Mail As An Advertising Media


  • Direct mail gets 19.2% of all U.S. advertising expenditures.
  • Highest response rate of all media.
  • Highest level of selectivity of all media.
  • High quality control.
  • A measurable media for cost and response. Easy to test.
  • High personalization.
  • Creative flexibility.
  • Long life span.
  • No advertising clutter [once they open your piece].


  • Highest cost per exposure.
  • Over-saturation of market – people get a lot of mail.
  • Negative connotations about buying through the mail.
  • Negative connotations about “junk mail”.

Magazines As An Advertising Media


  • Magazines get 5.3% of all U.S. advertising expenditures.
  • Excellent photo reproduction in full color.
  • Long shelf life with high pass-along readership.
  • High readership rates and reader loyalty.
  • High ability to select audience.
  • Regional editions for a more local audience.
  • Proven selling power. High prestige.


  • Long lead times. Unable to deliver your message immediately.
  • High CPM for mass audience advertising.
  • Heavy advertising clutter – often half of a magazine is advertising.
  • Poor local coverage.
  • Can’t deliver your message with a high frequency.

Outdoor As An Advertising Media


  • Outdoor get less than 1% of U.S. advertising expenditures.
  • Highest reach of all media.
  • Lowest CPM of all media.
  • Neighborhood level selectivity.
  • Very high frequency of reach.
  • Potential high impact because of size.
  • Some good location of message availability.


  • Only very short, simple messages work.
  • Some image problems with poor locations.
  • Hard to measure results.
  • High initial costs.
  • Negative connotations about visual pollution.

Yellow Pages As An Advertising Media


  • Yellow Pages get 5.9% of all U.S. advertising expenditures.
  • Very high percentage of new buyers [over 50%].
  • Very high percentage of active buyers [over 88%].
  • Completes the marketing process by bringing customers in.
  • Second highest media for believability.
  • Reaches 76% of U.S. adults in the average month. [Available in almost every home and business.]
  • Longest shelf life. Open 24 hours per day.
  • A measurable media for cost and response. Easy to test.


  • Highest advertising clutter [100% ads].
  • High cost for competitive positioning.
  • High CPM [but highest active buyers].
  • More directories mean lower reach per directory.
  • More headings mean lower reach per heading.
  • You can only change your ad once per year.

Using Advertising Media In Combination

Large advertisers almost always use a combination of different media to promote their products. This strategy makes sense for a number of reasons, but mainly because it is cost effective. So, is this a good idea for a small, local business?

The answer is a resounding YES, but on a slightly different scale. You certainly want to maximize your marketing through coordination.

Let’s take a look at how your advertising reach is increased when you use different media in combination.

Consider the percentage of people in your total target audience that you reach when you advertise in the newspaper. Here is a good example of what is going on in the real world:

With a newspaper ad you reach 25% of your total target group. Add a yellow page ad, and you reach an additional 18% of the people. Add a direct mail piece, and you reach an additional 19% of the people. Add television advertising, and you reach an additional 15% of the people. Add radio, and you reach an additional 8% of the people.

By using multiple media outlets you have reached more of your target audience with your marketing and advertising. You have also reached them multiple times because they get messages from different places.

Your messages reinforce each other. The result is an overall higher response at a lower cost. You have created synergy with your marketing and advertising.

It works because different people pay more attention to [and have more faith in] different types of media. When seriously reviewing ads for a product, about 25% of people review and trust the newspaper. 18% consider direct mail, 21% the yellow pages, 8% television, 4% radio, and 4% magazines.

Choose Your Best Media

Each kind of media has advantages and disadvantages. How can you figure out what to do? Understand what kinds of media are available to you. Understand what they cost and whom they reach. Understand where your customers are looking for information. Test different ads and media, and measure the results. [And keep testing over time]. Your work will be richly rewarded.

Don’t forget that the media you select has a great influence on your advertising effectiveness and believability. What is the difference between an ad in the newspaper and a flyer on your car? Effectiveness and believability. What is the difference between a column listing and a display ad in the yellow pages? The difference is effectiveness and believability. What is the difference between the smallest ad, and the biggest, most professional ad? A whole lot of customers.