5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Advertising Opportunities

We’ve all been there. You get a call from a sales person with a great advertising opportunity. Maybe it’s a local publication, a trade journal or some other exciting deal. Advertising can be really expensive. Before you buy what the person is trying to sell you, gather some information that will allow you to make a strategic decision – and not an emotional one.


  1. What audience does their publication (or website) appeal to?

Knowing who the media brand appeals to is the most critical information. If you work family businesses in Illinois, advertising in a national trade publication on metal manufacturing probably doesn’t make sense. The publication should be able to provide you with circulation information, which will tell you how many subscribers they have as well as some basic demographic data. If it’s a website, they should be able to share website analytics data.

  1. What are the demographics for that audience?

In addition to circulation numbers or website traffic, find out more about the people reading the publication or visiting the site. Are these people some of your key decision-makers? If they aren’t your key decision-makers or influencers, you shouldn’t be advertising in the publication or website.

  1. What format(s) are being delivered by the media entity?

There are many options for advertising today. It’s important to understand how ads can be delivered. Print is the most traditional format, but there are obviously numerous digital options on the advertising menu today. One that’s often underutilized is content advertising. This is where you can pay for placement of original content you create – or have your content featured within existing content on their site. Many of these alternative options can be quite cost-effective.

  1. If it’s digital advertising you’re considering, what reports can they provide around the traffic to their website and digital ads?

The bottom line with digital advertising is to ask for website data (it’s a real red flag if they don’t supply it to you). Look at how many sessions they have and the engagement level with their site (people should be visiting more than one page of their site). You also want to ask for data on the number of impressions and clicks the digital ads are generating.

  1. Can you target your advertising?

If you go to market locally, this becomes really important. Some websites and publications have options for you to target your advertising based on geography (called “geotargeting”) or other criteria. The more options available, the more control you are likely to have over your budget … resulting in better-targeted visibility.


While these questions are starting points, these should not be your only considerations. The value from advertising comes from repetition. If you’re truly considering some level of advertising, it shouldn’t be a one-off effort. Instead, it should be a consistent effort (buying a package of ads that appears over a period of time).

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2 Responses to “5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Advertising Opportunities”

  1. Jeff Houston

    Like the article. Are you including all of the GBH partners and managers on your mailing list?

    • Sarah Johnson Dobek, Founder & President at Inovautus Consulting

      I am not sure, but can check. Just send me an email with anyone you want added.


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