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Should You Snatch Up Unsold Ad Space To Save Money?

discounted advertising space for contractors
Ever heard of “remainder advertising”?

If you haven’t heard the term, you probably know the concept.

Remainder advertising is unsold advertising space in newspapers, magazines, radios, and TV that you can buy for a discounted price.

It’s basically the “clearance” aisle at a department store. It’s the stuff no one wanted, so the seller marks it down because they figure it’s better to sell it at a discount than not at all.

In the past, clients have asked me whether it’s good business to buy remainder advertising.

My answer: It depends on your goals.

I’ll break down remainder advertising into its pros and cons, so you can judge for yourself whether it’s worth buying.

Cons Of Remainder Advertising

Let’s start with the bad.

When you buy remainder advertising, you have little to no control of when or where your ad runs, so you will not reach the same audience consistently. This makes remainder advertising a poor strategy if you’re looking to build a recognizable brand.

Remainder advertising can also be erratic. A station or publication could have two or three spots available one week, and zero spots the next three. It’s a crapshoot.

Pros Of Remainder Advertising

Besides the obvious advantage of saving money on ad space, remainder advertising can be a good direct response vehicle to generate immediate leads.

I’ll give you an example…

Back in 2003, we wanted to generate leads for a business opportunity and didn’t care when the leads came in.

We bought remainder advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show, which was broadcast on 530 radio stations.

The normal rate for a 60-second spot was $24,000, but we bought the show’s remainder advertising for $13,000 per spot. We saved 46% on ad space for one of the most popular radio shows in the country.

The show didn’t always have spots available; like I said, remainder advertising is erratic. But in this case, it served our business needs well because it produced an immediate ROI.

Bottom Line…

If you’re in “hunting” mode (i.e., direct response mode), remainder advertising is a good way to get leads right here, right now.

If, however, you’re a company doing $2 million or more per year that needs to build your brand, you have better avenues for doing so. You need to reach the same audience on a consistent basis to generate business for your company in the future. And you’re not going to do that if you’re randomly popping in and out of stations and publications.

So if you can’t decide whether to snatch up some unsold ad space, first determine your goals. That will give you your answer.


P.S. If buying media gives you a brain-splitting migraine, we can do it for you. We’ve bought over $100 million in radio, TV, and print media on behalf of our clients. We’ll meticulously research the market and individual stations/publications, and then negotiate rates that are among the best for those outlets. We can also create powerful, lead-generating ads for you. Find out more here.


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