Here’s a Formula to Get the Most Bang for Your Advertising Buck

This is the key way to compare one advertising vehicle with another. Here’s how you do it: First decide what ad size or unit you want to buy. Maybe it’s a quarter-page ad in the Los Angeles Times or a marquee ad on WEHOville.com.

Then take the audience that the newspaper or magazine or website or direct mail campaign actually reaches, and divide that by 1,000. (For example, if you are buying an ad in a weekly newspaper with a zone in which 15,000 copies are distributed, you’ll end up with 15 as your result).

Then divide the cost of your ad by the number of thousands. If your ad in the Independent weekly costs you $350, and the Independent distributes 1,200 copies in the Zip zone you want to reach, the result would be $350 divided by 1.2, or $292. That figure is your cost to reach 1,000 readers. In the advertising industry it’s referred to as the CPM (cost per thousand). If you are calculating the cost of direct mail advertising, you want to add together the cost of the design of the direct mail piece, the cost of the actual paper it is printed on, the cost of the printing and the postage you’ll have to pay.

Do the same math with each type of media you are considering. With a website such as WEHOville or WeHoChamber.com (the WeHo Chamber of Commerce) or FrontiersLA.com, instead of print copies you want to know the number of “uniques,” or individuals who visit the website in a 30-day period. As mentioned above, insist that the website operator provide you with a screenshot of its most recent 30-day average by Google Analytics. If the website won’t provide that, you can assume that the operator isn’t going to tell you the truth.

Then compare the CPMs. You obviously want to spend the least amount of money possible to reach each 1,000 readers, other factors being constant. By that we mean you should also consider the quality of the publication or website with which you advertise. The Independent is poorly printed and doesn’t contain much news relevant to West Hollywood, if that matters to you and the audience you want to reach. As for Frontiers magazine, as many as a third of its ad pages are marketing porn or prostitution, which may or may not matter depending on what you are selling and the image you’re trying to project.