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If one is creating a publication with the intent of making a profit, chances are pretty good that the publication is going to have advertising. This is a good thing. While subscriptions can bring in some money, they often do little more than cover the production or mailing costs. Yet having ads in one’s publication brings its own challenges.

Conflict of Interest with the Publication

Right off the bat, the advertisers and the publication have a conflict of interest. See while the publication wants and needs ads, they also need readership. The advertiser however is primarily just interested in how many people see their particular ad.

Imagine if the front page of the local paper was just one big ad. No publication name; no real content; just an ad. From the advertiser’s viewpoint it is well on the way to being a successful ad. (The public has seen it after all.) Yet chances are, very few people are picking up the paper to see what is on page two.

Conflict of Interest with Each Other

Another issue is avoiding placing competing ads too close together, and showing “favoritism” to one particular company by giving them better placement. For example, if Tarzan’s Tires and Tires by Jane both are running ads, they probably will not be thrilled to find they were placed on the same page. This is of particular issue if one of them is offering a much better deal than the other.

Similarly, if Tires by Jane has an ad placed near a feature story while Tarzan’s Tires gets pushed onto an all ad page, chances are good that you’ll be hearing about it.


Sometimes placing ads comes down to matters of taste too. Have a cooking page? Chances are your septic system ad should go somewhere else.

Limited Resource: Space

Finally there is the issue of limited space. If your publication is designed to have a single ad on the front page, once that ad is sold, no one else can have an ad there. While potential advertisers tend to understand the concept of “first come, first serve” they may not be quite as happy to find out that you have signed a contract with an advertiser to run the front page ad for a year—thereby completely eliminating the possibility that they can advertiser there.

On one hand, you have just received a guaranteed ad for a year. On the other hand, you may have just made three or four potential advertisers angry and less inclined to advertise at all. Was it worth it?

In addition, if your publication ends up with too many ads (in comparison to the actual content), it will again begin to lose readership. Sometimes one has to gently find ways to encourage a late ad to run in the next publication instead,

While ads can be vital to a publication’s survival, they can also come with all sort of complications and much of the production time and effort can be spent on issues surrounding them.