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Why pay for inserts?

By Ian Nance - posted Thursday, 10 November 2016

The aim of advertising is to motivate purchase. People need to know the benefits before they spend their hard-earned on a product or service, a factor in discretionary spending.

I appreciate this well, coming from a career in the media, and later advertising, business.

Advertising is a one-way route; it is from the seller to the purchaser and relies on different media to spread the message visually, aurally, or both. If its effect is to promote interest in what's being offered, then it can develop into an interchange.


However, I resent strongly the trend towards making people pay to be marketed to (or at).

Examples of this are product or trade "shows" at large venues where visitors are charged admission for the privilege of being sold products or services. These exhibitions are crafted as promotional opportunities and their cost to the participating exhibitors is a tax deduction, like all other advertising.

I suggest that greed and opportunism has seen the idea grow of presenting these events as a form of entertainment and charging people admission. But why should we pay to receive promotions; we who control our discretionary spending?

The same reasoning applies to cinemas where, as well as high prices for admission, audiences are subjected to screening of advertising. Cinema advertising began with the historic 'talkie slides' and probably had its place as an information source about mostly local products and services in an era long before television arrived with its more global approach.

Nowadays cinema advertising is a medium in its own right, but why should this right be exploited within an entry fee? Why should cinemas top up their box office takings by selling screen time already paid for by their captive audiences?

Let's turn now to advertising in newspapers. Since the first publications in this country they have always carried advertising, but now are making increasing use of inserts, often more than one.


I only buy a newspaper on Sundays, instead preferring to get a speedy comprehensive coverage of news at other times via internet, and non-commercial radio and television.

My main enjoyment of the masthead I buy is the work of two particular columnists, but the heavy weight and bulk of the final product sees me asking the newsagent to discard the inserts during purchase so that I don't have to carry matter which I have no intention of reading.

In a recent issue I discovered two substantial advertising inserts, one of which was in essence a booklet, the other a small newspaper within a newspaper.

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About the Author

Ian Nance's media career began in radio drama production and news. He took up TV direction of news/current affairs, thence freelance television and film producing, directing and writing. He operated a program and commercial production company, later moving into advertising and marketing.

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