Before the Digital Era: The Tried-and-Tested Advertising Techniques

print media

Years ago, kids would dash to the kitchen the moment a TV commercial appeared to get snacks and hope to get back right in time after the short break. Other siblings fight over magazine volumes to read the latest update on the story they are following.

These days, everything, including advertising, is online. This is understandable because everybody is on the Internet. It’s a missed opportunity if a business doesn’t market in a place where practically the whole world population hangs out.

Whole industries sprang up to address the growing needs of businesses to be present in the online realm. Strategies such as search engine optimization or SEO help increase traffic to your website. With technology at your disposal, you can sell something using a five-second video.

For the generation who never got the excitement of following comics in newspapers, these are ways businesses used to advertise before the advent of the Internet. Of course, some of them are still around and won’t cease to exist in the following decades or so.

How to Advertise on Print Media

Before the term clickbait was used for video titles and thumbnails on YouTube that have nothing to do with the content, it was a practice in the print industry. Using a wild, vulgar, or intriguing headline would capture the reader’s attention to read the whole thing.

Printed materials such as newspapers and magazines contained a good deal of paid advertisements. Nowadays, they take the form of pop-ups and banners on the website of the news site. But before, the center page of a magazine is the most expensive part of the whole thing, especially for magazines that have a huge subscription base. The sole reason for this is that the center page is the first thing you see when you get a magazine and open it.


There are special ad promotions in magazines. This is usually a section of advertisements provided next to an article. For example, the article is all about why you should study abroad; the special ads section next to it would contain private institutions that provide study abroad programs.

Then there is the classified ads section. This is the cheapest way to advertise in magazines. This section usually appears on the back pages of a magazine.  This is the part dedicated to just ads. Your advertisement, usually an image accompanied by some words, will appear next to another one.

A more expensive way to advertise on glossy magazine pages is through advertorials. Your product ad is inserted within an article, which should be an entertaining piece. It could be a story or an intriguing feature article.



You have probably never heard of, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” with your own ears, but newspapers were part of people’s daily lives back then. They get their entertainment from the pages of a periodical through crossword puzzles, comic strips, and celebrity gossip. You can also look for jobs using the classified ads section. And when you read an editorial column, there is suddenly a boxed picture of the newest snack at McDonald’s.

The box is called a display ad. They are printed on the standard pages of a newspaper next to news articles. The bigger the box, the more expensive the space is. Usually, though, advertisers prefer to take up a half-page to make sure it gets the readers’ attention.

Have you ever dropped something from the inside of a book and picked it up? Well, almost everybody does. And that is the idea behind insert ads. You usually get a newspaper folded or rolled. Insert ads are separate pieces of paper tucked within the pages of a newspaper. It is a standalone advertisement that gets the readers’ attention. Advertisers can ask newspapers to deliver the interest to a specific demographic, and of course, it is much more expensive.

Other Types of Print Ads

Direct mail advertising is the ancestor of online newsletters. Deleting promotional emails is equivalent to discarding letters into the trash bin. Of course, you are familiar with flyers. They are still used until now. Sometimes, food businesses give out discount coupons or event announcements. The idea behind fliers is that people would pay more attention to something personally given to them. Advertisers believe that giving out fliers is much more effective than printing a giant poster.

Final Thoughts

Some of these practices are out of use, while some just took new forms as they migrated online. For people in the digital marketing industry, knowledge of the best marketing practices from the past helps formulate new ones.

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