A newspaper ad may be designed by a graphic artist on the newspaper staff, a public relations or marketing professional or even a business proprietor or manager. No matter who designs the ad, the creator is an artist and communicator who starts with an overarching objective: providing important information in a way that is informative and compelling to potential customers.
Economics is a primary consideration in designing the ad. Newspapers have rate systems that determine costs. Pricing is calculated by column inches. If, for example, a newspaper's open rate is $50 per column inch, the cost of an ad that is two columns wide by four inches deep is $400 since the customer is paying for eight column inches of space. Newspapers generally have contract agreements in effect so businesses that are frequent advertisers pay less than the open rate, provided they agree to a specified amount of advertising each year. Knowledge about the newspaper's ad pricing structure leads to a prudent decision on the ad size.
The next step in the newspaper ad design process is to gain familiarity with the newspaper's technical requirements. Newspapers today are produced electronically, so it is important that all design elements on a newspaper page are created in software programs that are compatible with the newspaper's systems. Newspapers will provide recommendations on what programs are acceptable, the format in which the ad should be designed, how to download graphics and photos into the ad and how to transmit the ad electronically to the newspaper.
Critical decisions must be made about the ad content. This is a particularly vexing problem for businesses on a tight budget who want to provide a large amount of information into a relatively small space. In addition to being informative, the ad must be readable. If the print is too small, many readers will ignore the message. The ad designer must pay strict attention to grammar and spelling and make sure the type selected is legible as well as appropriate to the business message and brand.
Layout is an important design consideration. Logos must be clear and recognizable, photos crisp and tasteful. Elements in the ad should blend together to create a favorable impression.
Because of tight production schedules, newspapers have strict deadlines. Usually an ad must be completed a minimum of two days before publication.
Don't forget to have the ad proofread by another person. Any errors or flaws in the ad reflect negatively on the business.