How do I avoid being conned by glossy advertising?

Don't be conned

We know how you might feel, it’s all very confusing because you get told so much rubbish by the advertising reps, much of it totally untrue.

But if you want to cut through the ‘cr*p’, all you have to do is ask the rep what the actual circulation is for their magazine, this would be magazines sold if a paid-for, or magazines printed and distributed, if a free magazine. That’s it really – you’ll find that very few magazine companies will give you this information, which without doubt means they have something to hide.  (Be very careful not to taken in by the circulation term also, a paid-for magazine could circulate 20,000 magazine, but may only sell 10,000, the rest being recycled).

If you book advertising without being aware of the exposure offered (as detailed above), then the analogy is like getting a tradesman round to your house, giving them £500 and leaving them to do as they wish. It’s ridiculous and you just wouldn’t do it, so why would you book advertising in a magazine without knowing what you’re getting in return for your investment?


What you must ask the publisher:

Paid-for magazines:

  • How many do you sell?
    You may be told something like: ‘Well, we can’t say exactly, because sales vary, issue-to-issue.‘ If you hear this, it’s a blatant lie, at the very least they’ll know what their previous year’s sales are, and will be able to give you a per-issue average. Don’t stand for it, insist they own up, or vote with your feet!
    If they’re selling through a wholesale chain such as Smiths, they should know the figures, and they should have their sales independently verified by someone like ABC. We’re coming across many publications that used to be audited, but they’ve dropped it, no doubt because of decreased sales (read more about decline in paid-for sales here).

Free-to-the-public magazines:

  • How many do you print and circulate?
    It’s fairly easy for publishers to get print certificates and also to carry out an audit – we suggest using local charities as an effective way of independently verifying their circulation. If there’s no verification, then again, be prepared to vote with your feet!

We will be carrying out audits of glossy magazines across the UK, but this will take us a while to complete. Make sure you see our Comparison Tables as they give you the most truthful insight into what the various publishers are revealing or hiding about their publications.

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  1. Pingback: The great glossy advertising scam! | Advertising Inspector

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