Space Available Ads

Recessionary Advertising Opportunity for Nonprofits

You don’t have to look at the official figures from Magazine Publisher’s Association (MPA) to see that magazines are in a recession right now in the United States. And that may mean opportunity for your nonprofit.
The official numbers bear out the gloom for the industry. While individual titles vary, overall the magazine business is in a funk. Among the hundreds of titles tracked by the MPA’s Publisher Information Bureau, overall revenue was down 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2008 versus the first quarter of 2007. Overall circulation was down 6.4 from first quarter 2008 versus first quarter 2007.

The opportunity is in what’s called ‘space available advertising.’ Magazines (and newspapers for that matter) have long offered nonprofits free ad space based on availability. That is, if they didn’t sell all their adspace, they’d fill it with an ad from a charity free of charge.
Because of the economic downturn (and maybe recession) right now in the U.S. not too many publications are selling all their ad space.

There’s a catch, of course. Charities have to provide the ads in multiple formats; the publication won’t do it for you. Moreover, every magazine you target will have different requirements. And, not surprisingly, when the people who design pages look for ads that fit the available space they’re more likely to choose attractive ads over ugly ones. In other words, it’s probably best to leave your ad's design to professionals.

Your ads will need a call to action, but you probably can’t get away with direct ask for donations. But check with the magazine first to see what they will and will not allow. And if you’re a charity in Knoxville, Tennessee serving teenage mothers, you’re not likely to get into Time Magazine. Although you might get your ad into the Knoxville News Sentinel.

When you prepare your ad, learn the lesson from the Care ad above. The ad was in one of the big three American newsmagazines... Time, Newsweek, or US News... earlier this month, I'm not sure which. At the very bottom is a line that reads: “Space generously donated by this publication.”

Perception is oftentimes reality in this world and it’s better not to let any of your audiences believe that you paid for adspace that might normally cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Add that little line and your charity looks efficient and the publication looks like a hero.

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