How much does advertising cost?

How much should I allocate to my advertising budget?
You know what it’s like; you’re not sure what advertising costs, and the advertising agencies are not very helpful.  They just turn it around and ask you what your budget is.

This probably irritates you right from the start, and you may wonder if you are talking to the right people.  You probably suspect that all we want to do is spend every cent you have. And you’d be right!

From an ad agency perspective, we’re being completely logical.  We won’t waste your time with a creative concept you love, but simply can’t afford.  We won’t suggest a location shoot in Paris or a using Bradley Cooper as your spokesman even if it’s the most exciting way to promote your brand.  Instead, we’ll come up with something that works within your advertising budget

On the other hand, we’d like to give you the best you can afford.  And that means spending a little time getting to know your marketing strategy, researching your project and exploring different creative options.  We might suggest specialist techniques or a campaign of three ads that tell a more complete story.  But if your budget only allows for a single ad, that would be a complete waste.

Until we know how much money you have, we don’t know what sort of solution will suit you best.

But we should put ourselves in your shoes and see if we can help.  If you are looking for a ball-park figure so you can establish what sort of budget you need, we can give you some guidelines.

Magazine and newspaper ads
Depending on all sorts of factors, a print ad can cost less than R10 000 or as much as hundreds of thousands.  But if you don’t have an idea of cost, you probably are looking at the entry level approach.

If all you want is a photograph of your product, a price and an address, that won’t cost much at all.   But if you’re approaching an ad agency, you probably want more than that.

So expect to pay for time to come up with a concept to make your ad tell a story, and make your customer stop and pay attention.  Every ad is customised, so we have to start from scratch, and even short copy takes more than a few minutes. “Just do it” is only three words, but it took time to get them right.

Production costs might include photography, model fees or even special props.  If you use a Rolls Royce in your ad, you’ll have to pay to hire and insure it too.

Some publications will offer to create your ad for you at a very low cost.  Depending on what you need, this might be a good idea.  But the publishing houses focus on publishing, rather than creating ads, and you won’t get the same level of creative or strategic input as you will from an ad agency.

Set some parameters
If you’d like to get a better idea of advertising costs, give us a call.  We can set some parameters based on what you’re looking for.  Tell us who you want to talk to, and what you want to tell them, and if you have any clear ideas of what you imagine the ad will look like, let us know.

Then we can give you an idea of what you can expect to pay, based on what you are looking for.  If you’re happy with that, we’ll go away and create an ad, just for you.  Then we’ll give you an accurate costing, so you can see exactly where your money is being spent.  And since we’ve agreed the ball-park up front, we’ll make sure we give you the best possible solution for the advertising budget you’d like to invest.

Related articles:
How to create a USP in a parity market  
8 Tips on choosing an ad agency  


  1. Pat Pughe-Parry on March 25, 2013 at 20:19

    I think what many small businesses struggle with is to determine the ROI when they advertise. What is your opinion on adverts vs advertorial? Which is better value for money?

    • Ann Druce on March 26, 2013 at 09:26

      Hi Pat,

      Advertorials offer the opportunity to link your brand closely with a publication. The layout is in keeping with their look and feel, and if you are lucky, the advertorial may look as though it is part of the editorial content of the magazine. This can create an implied endorsement by the magazine, helping to build trust for your brand among their readers. So they can be a valuable part of your marketing communications strategy.

      Several major brands use them to great effect, and certain food and décor features come to mind. They are well-planned and backed by a full marketing campaign.

      However, advertorials are not always designed in keeping with a brand strategy.

      Advertising requires a sustained commitment, with frequency of interaction with your target market. We recommend that you do less, better. Don’t spread your budget too thinly and stick to a limited list of publications. Use repetition to make sure that your target market has seen and remembered you. Marketers are so invested in their brands that they sometimes forget that their target market is not as committed, and a single insertion may just not be seen.

      So where an advertorial is viewed as a cost-effective way of getting your brand into a publication that you otherwise would not use or could not afford (particularly when they have a last-minute special offer due to unsold inventory), you may find that the one-off approach has no real impact on sales. Worse still, you may find that the message is not exactly what you intended, that the image isn’t quite in keeping with your brand values.

Leave a Comment