With all the hustle and bustle of putting out a yearbook, it’s easy for ads to be an afterthought. From designing spreads to interviewing teachers, there are so many things that go into the final product — but don’t make the mistake of thinking that ad placement isn’t as important as your other tasks.
Yearbook ads don’t have to be boring or something you’ve tacked onto the end of your book to get a few dollars. With some thought and creativity, you can make ads a part of your book. And that can be important from a fundraising point of view.
Showing your advertisers that you’ll put in some extra effort to get their ads seen by your readers means two things: they’ll remember you when you come back next year and that they’re more likely to be happy with the way their ad was treated. Both can play big factors in whether someone chooses to advertise in your book again the next year.
Remember, though, ads should never be incorporated into the book’s journalistic content. Instead, put them on adjacent pages. From a journalistic standpoint, yearbook ads need to be clearly defined and separate from content — mixing them with content would break those rules. It’s your responsibility to make sure readers don’t view an ad as something more than it is.
Here are three ideas on how you can creatively incorporate ads into your yearbook without breaking those journalism rules.
1. Place Yearbook Ads Next To Related Stories
The example above is taken from a baseball “yearbook,” but the same idea could easily be replicated in your own book. With player Chris Gwynn featured on one side, the “Just the ticket…Before and after the game!” header makes the restaurant advertisements complementary to the spread rather than just an appendage. You can take a lesson from this: you don’t need to lump all of your ads together on a few blank pages. Instead, get creative with how and where you place ads.
You can apply this same idea to your own yearbook ads:
- Place advertisements for tuxedo rental places, florists, and hair and nail salons near spreads about prom or formal dances.
- Similarly, place ads for local coffee shops or convenience stores near a spread about studying for finals.
- Make a “behind-the-scenes” page with ads for fabric shops, art supply shops, and music stores next to a spread about the theater department.
By using surprising and unique applications like these, you can make your ads an asset to your yearbook rather than an eyesore.
2. Use Catchy Design Elements to Make Ads Pop
Consistency is key to a memorable yearbook theme. It’s easy to reflect your theme on the cover and the first pages, but it can be challenging to convey in the bulk of your book. The ad pages might seem like the last place to illustrate your yearbook theme, but with innovative design elements, you can smoothly incorporate ads into your yearbook’s design. You can accomplish this by pulling certain elements from the rest of your yearbook. This can be as simple as repeating design aspects like colors, shapes, and fonts. These elements go a long way in creating a cohesive feel to your book.
You can also implement a more conceptual approach that directly relates to your theme, whether that has something to do with school spirit, pop culture, or coming-of-age moments. Here are some examples:
“At the Crossroads”
For an “At the Crossroads” yearbook theme, design your ad page around a stylized map of your town. From there, place ads around the page with lines pointing where the business is located on the map. Not only does this make the ad page more eye-catching, but it’s a good way to visually reflect the school’s relationship with the community.
“It’s About Time”
What better way to convey a time-based theme than with a clock? Place hands of a clock in the middle of the page, but instead of using a circle of numbers, use ads. You could position the ads to reflect the time of day — for example, 8 AM could be the coffee shop, noon could be the local sandwich place, 7 PM a movie theater, and midnight might be a 24-hour convenience store. This is a fun way to draw readers to the ad pages and get them thinking about the businesses.
“A Piece of the Puzzle”
Who said yearbook ads had to be perfect rectangles? Reflect a puzzle theme in your yearbook by arranging your ⅛-page ads into the shape of jigsaw puzzle pieces. You don’t have to cut off any part of the ad, and it makes the whole page look a lot more interesting.
3. Make Ads Interactive
Ad pages don’t need to stand alone — why not link them to other pages within the yearbook? If you’ve created any interactive mods, like pop quizzes or other trivia modules, hide the answers on the bottom or sides of the ad pages. (Just be sure to do it outside of the ads themselves so as not to give any business preference over another.)
By putting thought into your yearbook ads, making them fun, and pointing students toward ad pages, you can breathe some life into your book and make your ad pages stand out. It will make you, your readers, and your advertisers all happier.