Why Magazine Ads Are Worthless For Product Manufacturers

Posted On: 
Nov 23, 2016
Why Magazine Ads Are Worthless for Product Manufacturers

Thirty years ago print advertising ruled the roost. Newspaper, magazine ads, and direct mail were utilized by many building product manufacturers to reach architects, spec writers, and other decision makers. Today’s media world is completely different. Total print advertising in the United States dropped by over $30 billion between 2011 and 2016. Online ad spending reached $62 billion in 2016. If your company is spending budget dollars on print advertising to reach the decision makers, you better think again.

Magazine Ad Return On Investment (ROI)

How can a building product manufacturer justify budget dollars for print advertising through a magazine or newspaper? Is that $5000 full page ad that you just paid for going to magically persuade the top specifiers in the country to select your product? There are three primary methods that building product manufacturers utilize to determine the effectiveness of magazine ads and all three are unsatisfactory for calculating ROI.

Free Product Information Cards

We’ve all seen these paper monstrosities in magazines that have hundreds of numbers on them representing manufacturers. Design professionals are supposed to find the products that they are interested in and circle the number to receive their free product information. How many architects do you know that still mail in paper product information requests and wait eagerly by the mailbox to receive this tantalizing information? This have may have worked in the horse and buggy era but times are a’changing. Architects and spec writers don’t need a mountain of paper scraps on their desks. Its a potential fire hazard.

Website Confirmation

How did you hear about us? We’ve all been on a website where the Contact Us feature offers a drop down menu asking how we discovered their website. Did we find the building product website via a Google search? A trade show? Our parole officer? Or a crumpled up magazine we found on a subway seat while fighting off zombies in the New York underground? How many architects look at a half-page ad of a bucket of mortar in a magazine and decide its imperative that they visit the manufacturer’s website? Unless said mortar was eco-friendly, was declared “human grade food” by the FDA, and tasted like chocolate, I doubt anybody would care.

Printed AIA Continuing Education Course

These CE courses have roamed the earth since the dinosaurs. In their hey day, which is about 650 B.C., they were an effective tool in reaching the design community. How many architects do you know that still read a magazine article to obtain their AIA or GBCI education hours? The only major benefit here compared to the other ROI methods is that a design professional was educated to some degree about the sponsor’s building product. However, online anytime courses, webinars, and classroom events provide a more effective use of budget dollars than a magazine based education course. Magazine education courses offer less engagement, interactivity, and specification opportunities.

Overall, print advertising is a waste of your precious marketing dollars. Most architects, spec writers, engineers, interior designers, contractors, and other design professionals utilize portable devices such as laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Traditional advertising like magazines is declining rapidly. Magazine advertising can’t weed out potential users of a product. Internet marketing can target specific demographics such as architects. Architects can immediately proceed with a call to action with an internet based strategy as opposed to a paper based antiquity. Magazine ads are on life support as the internet and 21st century technology takes over.

Does your company still utilize traditional magazine ads? If so, how does your company justify ROI for magazine advertisements?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank