Cover price – is it a barrier to exposure?


Yes, it’s most definitely a barrier to your advert gaining exposure!

If you’re advertising your business/organisation in a publication with a cover price, then a buying decision has to be made by a member of the public.  It’s not just like picking up a publication that you know is free, you have to stop and consider whether you wish to part with money.  Undoubtedly this will affect the paid-for publication’s circulation.

One of the problems with paid-for magazines is they’ve suffered massive decline over the past decade (see here), and many are very guarded about their circulation because of dramatically reduced sales. What’s disturbing is that most haven’t dropped their advert pricing to reflect this drop in exposure.  The term circulation is not necessarily positive when talking about paid-for publications.  They may have 10,000 magazines in circulation (on newsstands waiting to be purchased), but do you ever get to know how many are finally sold or returned for recycling?  This is generally a closely guarded secret.

Sometimes we come across businesses that argue the cover price is a good thing, because it means the person buying it, also values it, and they also can afford to buy it. These are weak arguments. Firstly, many of the paid-for magazines are absolutely full of adverts and promos.  You’d rightfully expect that these paid-for would carry much more proper content and information because that’s what the consumer is paying for.  Generally this isn’t the case, the consumer gets a raw deal and with the advent of many premium quality free magazines, paid-for sales are in rapid decline.  The other argument about being able to afford a paid-for magazine is again weak, most people if they really like a magazine, can afford £3 to £5 for a copy.  Actually, many of the paid-for magazines, particularly from the national publishers, can be subscribed to for as little as £1 per issue (nowhere near the postage cost – this shows their desperation to buoy up circulation). The other thing we see a lot of here in Devon (where AI is based), is where publishers freely give away previous issues of these paid-fors with a view to padding up their ailing circulation figures.

So, in short, you can see that paid-for magazines are having major problems at many levels.  Be very careful when booking with paid-fors, don’t miss our Comparison Tables for magazines.


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