Magazine formats – A4 vs A5


There are important differences to consider between A4 and A5 formats when planning your marketing campaign.

A5 magazine format
This format is most effective in the Local Community Magazine guise – essentially these are magazines specifically containing much reference and community information that will be of interest to local residents. These type of magazines are generally published either monthly or bimonthly, and are delivered to homes.  Advertising in magazines such as these means your advert will enjoy highly extended exposure (see our piece about Shelf-Life) affording your business great value-for-money. An additional spin-off when using long shelf-life publications is that they make advertising affordable year round and allow your business to participate in dripping-tap marketing across the year – one of the most important marketing aims for your business over the long-term.  The other major consideration, if the magazine you are considering is delivered to the residents door, is that you can achieve 100% blanket exposure of your local area, something not achieved through newspaper advertising.

Although there are many excellent community A5 magazines available, beware the pure ‘advertiser’ type magazines because they have dramatically reduced effectiveness ,- you’ll know the ones we mean when you see them, page after page of garish adverts and what content there is, has been bought off the internet and doesn’t relate to the local community you wish to target.  If you’re using A5 magazines, you need to ensure that there’s some integrity in the content – so information that relates to the local community – event listings, history, community features, local information – it all matters because the more engaging and useful it is to the reader, the more exposure you’ll gain from your budget.


A4 magazine format
It’s generally accepted that A4 is a more spacious, classier format compared to A5, and allows larger adverts that are cleaner, less frantic and smarter.  The larger space also allows content to be more spacious and hopefully elegant, but don’t be fooled by excessive white space and pretentious stuff, what’s most important is that the content is interesting and not full of what the industry call ‘fillers’ (basically anything thrown in to bulk out the space) as this affects shelf-life.
When confronted with an array of glossy A4s, it can be extremely difficult to make an informed judgement as to which one is best for your campaign – This can be down to 2 reasons:

  1. Cloaking of low circulation.  Paid-for for magazines have suffered massive decline over the past decade, which isn’t really surprising when you take into account the increase in the number of premium quality free-to-the-public magazines available.  People are reluctant to pay for magazines nowadays, especially when they can pick up high quality regional/town magazines free of charge.  Paid-for magazine reps will spout ‘Readership’ and ‘Media Opportunities’ to you – it’s all waffle devised to take your eye off the real story, which is: how many magazines do they print and circulate?  Many paid-for magazines have ridiculously high display rates, but very low circulation, meaning that advertisers receive particularly bad value-for-money.  If you’ve been advertising in a paid-for glossy over the last 5-10 years, it’s vital that you review their circulation, because the decline may mean it’s dropped below critical levels, affecting the exposure your business can expect to receive.  The magazine may look busy and successful, but if it’s not reaching your local audience in sufficient numbers, then you could be wasting your money.
  2. Smoke & Mirrors – it’s easy to be fooled when casually flicking through glossy magazines.  What you may consider to be content, can actually be endless promotion and advertorial.  It’s only when you sit down and analyse carefully, do you realise what’s interesting, proper content and what isn’t.  Generally, if you’re within your company, you probably don’t have the time to carry out this sort of analysis in detail, that’s why we’ve done it for you on this website.


Newspaper format
We advise against newspapers, mainly because of their very short shelf-life, making them a comparatively expensive way to promote your business.  It’s also not the prettiest format, newsprint never looks quite as attractive as glossy magazine advertising and the general content of weekly newspapers is usually throwaway.  When you consider that weekly newspapers generally last about 2 days in the home, your business suffers extremely poor value.  The key factor to consider is cost per advert appearance per page (CPAAPP).  This provides a simple, but highly revealing way of working out the value provided by a magazine that you may be considering advertising within.


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