Textbook Advertising

Textbook on iPhone photo credit: itunes


- Overview
- Benefits
- Limitations
- Cost
- Reach and Frequency
- Impact and Responsiveness
- Audience
- Advertisers
- References


There are several ways advertisers use textbooks to display their message. They can place ads in online textbooks, inserts in hard copies and they can have their products written into or placed beside the actual text of the textbook. A company called Freeload Press hasdeveloped several options for students. They offer an online ad-supported book as well as an online ad-free book. Students can also purchase an iPhone version of the book.


Advertisers who place ads in online textbooks can change their advertisements often. This change will keep the audience interested. They are also reaching the elusive 18- 24 year old market. If students can get something for free or at a reduced price that would normally cost several hundred dollars, the students will most likely look favorably on the advertisements in the textbooks. Advertisers can also target a niche market by targeting their product to different majors.


Ad supported text books are only available to a limited number of students at a limited number of schools with a limited number of professors who choose to use ad supported textbooks. Advertisers want to reach hundreds of thousands of students and advertising in textbooks only allows them to reach a few thousand students. In the fall of 2006, only 38 universities had required books at Freeload press. Also, advertising in textbooks is often looked at in a negative light. Some people feel that subjecting students to advertising is inappropriate.


A typical sponsorship with Freeload Press could cost an advertiser $5,000 for one month and up to $50,000 for an entire semester. Hard copy books with advertisements inside will most likely be passed to other students over the course of the next few semesters. In the past, McGraw-Hill planned to charge $1.40 per book for advertising inserts.
Reach and Frequency:

Freeload notes that the readers are a captive audience, ''Your Marketing Message works overtime in textbooks'' because ''grades provide motivated readers; quizzes, tests and finals drive traffic back and forth throughout the medium.''
Every semester advertisers get a new crop of students to see the advertisements. Even if someone buys the textbook used, he or she will still be subject to the advertisements inside.A McGraw-Hill brochure said, "Reach a hard to get target group where they spend all their parents' money." Ads in textbooks should operate in a pulsing action. It should be the strongest in the Spring and Fall when students typically buy textbooks.

Impact and Responsiveness:

The idea of placing advertisements in textbooks is unpopular with some people. There have even been laws passed against it. A 1999 law in California bans unnecessary exposure to commercial brand names, products or logos in textbooks and other materials. Advertisers want to get the audience to act by purchasing their products.

Screenshot of an online textbook - photo credit: googlesystem.blogspot.com


College students are the target audience of textbook advertisements. Most college students get money from a part-time job or from their parents. Students don't have many bills and have a disposable income.


Freeload Press has had sponsorships from Culver's, AICPA, The Campus Kitchens Project and Discover Card. Proctor & Gamble has sponsored reading material for elementary school students.


Azzaro, M. (2008). Strategic media decisions. Chicago, IL: The Copy Workshop.

Bakker J. <Jason@campusmediagroup.com> (2010, November 15).Contact from campusmedia [personal email]. (2010, September 16)

California Institute of Technology, Initials. (2000). Laws passed in 1999 in california. Retrieved from http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~progress/flyers/ca-laws.html

Heldt, D. (2006, August 19). Ad-supported textbooks have critics at ui. The Gazette, p. web.

Laube E.< elaube@textbookmedia.com >(2010, November 16).Info Request [personal email]. (2010, November 16)

Stross, R. (2006, August 27). Words of wisdom vs. words from our sponsor. New York Times, p. 3.

Westhead, R. (2005, June 7). Publisher pushes textbook ads. The Toronto Star, p. D01.