How to Add Digital Value to Print Advertisements

Digital - Adding Digital Value to Print Ads - 2

Print ads are the most trusted advertising channel for consumers making a purchase decision. That is the key finding of MarketingSherpa’s recent consumer research study.

And, given the reach potential and immediacy of digital advertising, the question for magazine publishers is how to best utilize digital channels to add value to advertisers’ print ads?

This article provides ideas for combining the ability of print ads to cement trust and brand identity with the ability to expand audience with online advertising.

These are not only ways to help current advertisers increase their visibility, but also ways for publishers to show potential advertisers that you understand how print and digital work together to maximize their print ads.

Combine ads with online opportunities

For local advertisers, their main concern is seeing an increase in business and getting their name into people’s minds. When working with clients to create ads, suggest something that drives online interaction. For example, brick and mortar stores can focus on ads that tease a limited-time coupon found only on their website or social media channel. This drives consumers to the store’s online channels or website.

What’s more, this is a strategy that businesses can measure by looking at traffic to their different online channels and by tracking coupon redemptions. Whether it’s a coupon, another promotion or something else entirely, this tactic is appealing because the first part, the print ad, establishes trust and brand worthiness while the second part, the digital drive, allows the company to get the benefits of digital with measurement.


Knowing your target audience is key and especially so when it comes to any type of email marketing. eBlasts, otherwise known as e-mail blasts, are specialized emails that focus on one specific message, like products or event announcements. Everyone gets enough junk email, so in crafting an eBlast, be sure you have something of value to say that will be worthwhile for your target audience to read.

For example, if you have a regional magazine focused on food, use an eBlast to announce the opening of a new organic farm that features a restaurant and on-site market for their produce. Include mentions of your advertisers whose products or services would be complimentary to the announcement. If you can offer a discount code or a coupon for something, that’s even better.

Social media integration

Social media is one common way that publishers digitally compliment their print magazines. (If you missed it, we’ve recently written about how to monetize Instagram and how to generate revenue with Pinterest.

If you use social channels already, make sure of three things:

  • Use a consistent and cohesive voice and message across all of communication platforms
  • Ensure what you’re sharing is relevant, original and entertaining
  • Write specifically for your target audience

Social platforms are some of the easiest ways to increase visibility for advertisers. It could be as simple as sharing an image of their logo and talking about who the business is and what they do. If they’re in-line with the content already found in your publication, it will be that much easier to tie it into relevant social content. Talking about advertisers doesn’t have to be vying for sales for them, it can simply be sharing with your audience an interesting tidbit about what the business does and who they are as a way to make a memorable connection to the reader.

Utilize your publication’s website

It might be too obvious, but it’s worth mentioning—use your magazine’s website to augment the ads found in your publication. Have a resources section that features more about the advertisers with easy-to-find descriptions and contact information. Or feature one of companies that advertises in your publication by doing a monthly advertiser write-up that appears on your website or on social media and changes with each issue.

Never forget your target audience

In the end, no matter which digital channels and strategies you try, never forget your target audience. For strategies that involve producing content, your ability to speak about your advertisers in a sincere way only works if they’re in line with your publication’s brand. For example, it would seem phony to be praising the benefits of a pesticide company in an organic farming magazine.

Make sure what you’re highlighting about a company or brand is interesting and relevant to your audience. Focus on the motivations of your readership and tie that to the ads they’ll find whenever possible.

Many people prefer to actually read the content of print (versus the behavior online), so if you write content about some of the companies, brands or people who advertise with you, make it memorable. Try to draw personal connections through content when possible by talking about when the company was founded, the motivation behind it and the community impact they’ve had.

And don’t forget that with anything digital and all of the no-cost tactics above, test and learn is the best way to navigate zeroing in on what will work with your advertising clients as well as your readership.

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