Advertisement sheet

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An advertisement is a printed product and belongs to the genre of newspaper . Typically, an advertising paper is distributed free of charge and is mainly financed by advertisements . There is a multitude of synonyms such as advertising newspaper , (free) weekly newspaper , weekly newspaper or district newspaper . In Austria, the titles are called regional weekly newspapers , in Upper Bavaria and in Switzerland they are often simply called anzeiger . In the English-speaking world, they are referred to as free papers or (free) non-daily papers .

According to the definition of the Federal Association of German Advertising Papers (BVDA), advertising papers are press products that are distributed free of charge at least weekly at regular intervals to the households of a clearly defined area.



The effort that is put into creating the editorial part in advertising papers and newspapers is traditionally lower than, for example, with daily newspapers , but there are definitely high qualitative fluctuations upwards and downwards.

The editorial part in advertising newspapers usually comprises between 30 and 40% of the total number of pages. They are therefore legally defined in Germany as press products. The focus is on service tips and diverse shopping information, as well as reports on local or national events. The latter can also be found in titles published on Sundays (e.g. current Bundesliga results, federal politics, topics from all over the world). Therefore, they often meet the requirements of a free Sunday newspaper.

The consumer tips include, for example, topics related to building and living, health and wellness, motor vehicles, fashion, travel, provision or investment, pharmacy and medical emergency services, cinema programs, etc. Quite a few titles offer specials on this. Some of these may appear in a different format than the original advertising paper (e.g. as a magazine with a hard cover in DIN A4).

Advertisements and inserts

Depending on their type, advertising papers contain a large number of advertisements , both for trade (including discounters, specialist shops e.g. for electronics, construction, etc.) and private and business classifieds (including real estate, cars, work, acquaintances). All common special forms of advertising are possible.

From the advertiser's point of view, the high household coverage is a major reason for advertising.


Intelligence sheet
Advertisements in the Hannoversche Kurier

The " intelligence sheet " was the first form of an advertising sheet. However, it did not make special demands on the intelligence, but it was aimed at everyone who wanted to get information or "gain insight" (intellegere). Their story began in France. In 1612 the Parisian doctor Théophraste Renaudot (1586–1653) opened an advertising office ("bureau d'adresses"). It was supposed to be a non-profit job exchange for vagabonds, but it established itself as an information exchange for all kinds of purchases, sales, vacancies or travel matters. The demand was so great that from 1631 the offers were allowed to be published periodically as “Feuille du bureau d'adresses” (“Leaf of the address office”) and were also distributed free of charge. The advertising paper model was born. The first intelligence paper in German-speaking areas appeared on January 1, 1722 in Frankfurt am Main. Until around 1840, the advertising monopoly was often assigned to the intelligence papers by the state. The fact that as a rule only advertisements were allowed to be published also had advantages: Intelligence papers, for example, were spared the wave of Napoleonic newspaper bans in 1810.

Until around 1930 the name "Intelligence sheet" was in use. The historian Friedrich Huneke records 188 startups in 166 locations. His colleague, the Bremen press researcher Professor Holger Böning, estimates their number at at least 220 in the 18th century alone (German-speaking countries). The ZDB ( shows around 560. Today there is only one advertising newspaper in Germany that is called that - in Bavaria ( Dorfen ). When the National Socialists came to power in Germany in 1933, freedom of the media was gradually abolished. Advertising papers were also affected.

With the announcement of the Advertising Council of the German Economy on October 20, 1934, most of them were forbidden to publish third-party advertisements, and they could no longer be distributed free of charge, but had to raise a subscription price. Many titles were thus deprived of their economic basis.

Oldest title in Germany in the pre- and post-war period

The general license was issued on September 21, 1949: Germans who were not accused ( denazification ) were allowed to publish a newspaper. Advertisements appeared more and more again or were newly founded. The Eschweiler Filmpost, founded in 1931, and the Trifels Kurier, founded in Annweiler (Rhineland-Palatinate) in 1879, are among the oldest still on the market today . According to current estimates, it did not appear as an advertising paper until around 1949. Before that he was a weekly and daily newspaper. The Westend Anzeiger ( Münchner Wochenanzeiger group ), originally sent to households as a local parish news paper, first appeared in Munich in 1926. The Sendlinger Anzeiger (Münchner Wochenanzeiger group) founded in 1943 , the Lippische Neuesten Nachrichten (Detmold) and the Kulmbacher , founded in 1946, are also among the oldest titles Anzeiger (1949). The last title mentioned initially appeared as a pure "advertisement sheet" on only two pages. He only published business advertisements of any kind. There were no editorial contributions. With the appearance of the “Annoncen-Blatt”, however, the Kulmbach retail trade was given a good opportunity to advertise its goods. Editorial contributions were only added later.

Also among the oldest titles are those that were founded in the 1950s. For example the "Local Gazette Waldbröl", the "Weilimdorfer Anzeiger" or the "Langenhagener Echo / Wedemark Echo" (all 1950), the "Gemeinde Anzeiger", the "Freiburg Weekly Report" or the "Amper Bote" in Dachau (all 1952 ), the "Wochenblatt Hassloch" (1953), the "Zuffenhausen Week" (1954), the Stuttgarter Wochenblatt (1955), the "Heimat Echo" from Hamburg (1957), the "Kölner Wochenspiegel" (1958) or the "Saarbrücker Wochenspiegel ”(1959).

In the 18th and 19th centuries, intelligence and advertising papers often turned into daily newspapers, at the end of the 20th century there were occasional opposing developments: paid daily or weekly newspapers were converted into free advertising papers: the "Rheinische Anzeiger" founded in 1931 in Dormagen (1994 ), the "Bremer Anzeiger" (1976) founded as Bremer Bürger-Zeitung in 1890 , as well as the Spandauer Volksblatt founded in 1946 . The title was changed to a paid weekly newspaper in 1992 and has been published since 1994 as a local edition of the Berliner Woche advertising newspaper (“your weekly newspaper”) - but still under the name “Spandauer Volksblatt”. The "Trifels Kurier", published in Annweiler am Trifels since 1879, shows a similarly changeful existence : first it appeared as a normal paid weekly newspaper, then from 1924 to 1945 it was published as a daily newspaper and has been established as a free weekly newspaper in the region since around 1949 (" Messenger from Trifels: Advertisements and messages for Annweiler am Trifels ”).

Waves of founding / development of advertising papers in Germany since 1960

In 1964 there were already 170 weekly papers with 2 million copies a week. Between 1970 and 1985 there was a real start-up boom. Whereas in 1970 a total of 335 titles with a circulation of 9 million copies were published, in 1980 there were already 750 titles with 32 million and in 1985 49.7 million copies - almost 2/3 of the circulation that is recorded today (2006). Between 1990 (reunification) and 2000 a further 300 titles were created - mostly in East Germany.

Advertising papers in Germany

Reader and usage

The Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy has investigated the importance of advertising papers as a source of information for local consumption and living on behalf of the BVDA. For the 2013 study, more than 25,000 people were interviewed; it is therefore representative of the population in Germany aged 14 and over.

Range and frequency

Advertisements reach almost the entire population: The broadest readership (WLK) is 82.9 percent (population 14 and over). It is 88.9 percent for those over 60 and 70.6 percent for those under 30. The overwhelming majority use them regularly or almost regularly (56.4 percent). Another 20 percent read advertising papers about two to three times a month.

Source of information for purchases

Advertising papers are an important source of information for shopping - also from the perspective of the younger generation: For example, when asked: "Where do you think you can get interesting shopping tips and information about special offers?" Two out of three Germans answered: "In the advertising paper". This is followed by regional daily newspapers (54 percent), personal interviews (34 percent) and magazines / city magazines (18 percent). At eight percent, the internet only comes in fifth.

As a source of information about the local world of consumption and living, the Internet is still of secondary importance today. For example, 23 percent of Germans thought the Internet was a good source of local politics and local developments; when it came to shopping and special offers, the figure was eight percent. The proportion is higher among those under 30 (37 and 18 percent, respectively).

The high level of interest in promotional information is also reflected in the following result: Every second ad reader in Germany aged 16 and over appreciates the addition of “many interesting brochures” to their own ad, that's over 31 million people. This proportion is even higher for those interested in shopping tips and readers with a strong commitment to the newspaper (56 and 64 percent, respectively).

Delivery and deliverer

Advertising papers are usually sent free of charge to all households in a defined area. As press products, they can and will also be delivered to those who refuse to advertise. Around 170,000 deliverers deliver the weekly papers - mostly as mini-jobbers . 57% are pupils / students (others: pensioners, housewives, etc.). The publishers state that they check delivery services using a wide variety of control methods.

Sales, number of titles, print runs and frequency of publication

Net advertising revenue

The titles are financed exclusively from advertising revenues (advertisements and inserts).

The advertising papers in Germany recorded a slight decrease of 2.8 percent in net advertising revenues in the 2012 financial year. After the already successful 2011 financial year, Germany's weekly papers once again achieved a very good result in their history with a net advertising turnover of 2.001 billion euros. In 2012, the advertising papers remained the third largest advertising medium in Germany after television and the daily newspapers.

Current title and circulation numbers

In 2012 there were 473 publishing houses in Germany, which published a total of 1,435 titles (as of January 1, 2013). The total circulation of advertising papers in Germany is 94 million. With a circulation of 65.2 million, the titles organized in the BVDA account for around 70% of the total circulation.

Frequency and days of publication

The most important criteria for the publication date of advertising papers are the needs of the trade. The publication focuses on midweek and on the weekend. 51 percent of all titles appear on Wednesday (743). 155 titles appear on Thursday. That means: 63 percent of all advertising papers are published on Wednesday and Thursday.

In addition to the middle of the week, the weekend has emerged as a further focus. Currently, 259 titles appear on Sunday with 20.5 million copies (2011: 21.8). This corresponds to a market share of 21.8 percent (share of the AB edition). On Saturday there was a significant increase with 247 advertising papers and 19.9 million copies. Thus around two thirds of all advertising papers in Germany appear during the week, around one third appear on the weekend.

Edition size classes

Around 34.9% of the titles are published with a print run between 25,001 and 50,000 copies, 28% between 50,001 and 100,000 copies and 20% with a print run between 10,001 and 25,000 copies. Significantly fewer titles appear with print runs in the size class 100,001 to 200,000 (9.1%) and titles with more than 200,000 print runs (4.9%). If one takes into account that the weekly published titles with the lowest circulation have a circulation of around 3,000 copies, while the highest circulation amounts to 800,000 to 1.53 million copies, the broad spectrum of advertising newspapers in Germany becomes apparent. The high-circulation titles usually have numerous sub-editions.

Layout, print and number of pages

Most of the titles are printed almost entirely in four colors. Cut -photos or teaser on the front page are not uncommon. Some titles are in the boulevard style , others in the classic newspaper style. The number of pages is usually between 12 and 38 pages. 90% of the advertising papers are published in the classic newspaper formats (Rheinisches, Berliner, Nordisches) and 10% in the smaller tabloid format .

Legal Aspects

A number of legal issues are discussed in relation to advertising papers.


The question of whether the free distribution of advertising papers was compatible with the law against unfair competition had to be clarified by the highest court.

With reference to the old version of § 1 of the UWG (before July 8, 2004) ("Anyone who undertakes actions in commercial traffic for the purposes of competition that offend morality [...]"), the Federal Court of Justice ( GRUR 1969, 287 - Stuttgarter Wochenblatt I), in its judgment of December 18, 1968, still doubts the admissibility of the free distribution of advertising papers with editorial parts.

The Federal Court of Justice finally clarified in its judgment of March 26, 1971 (GRUR 1971, 477 - Stuttgarter Wochenblatt II). The right of citizens to free information, both editorial and promotional, was confirmed.

Classification of the advertising papers as press

Further judgments in which advertising papers were rated as press products with corresponding rights: LG Freiburg (June 6, 1969), BKA Berlin (02/1978), LG Bonn (29 May 1979), OLG Hamm (15 November 1979) and LG Osnabrück (May 23, 1984). Also: BGH (1972, NJW ), Freiburger Wochenbericht (1956), Hanseatic Higher Regional Court (judgment of January 27, 2005, 3 U 113/04, JurPC Web-Doc. 96/2005, Paragraphs 1 - 68; quote: “ The press term is to be understood broadly and formally, for example advertising papers also fall under it ”). The interpretation of the term "press" is based on formal criteria, based on the production and reproduction methods. All print products suitable and intended for distribution to the general public are therefore protected. A differentiation based on the content of the printed matter is prohibited. Otherwise the protection of freedom of the press would be unduly curtailed. But not only advertising papers or daily newspapers, but the advertising part (the advertisement) itself fulfills the public task of the press and is therefore also generally subject to press freedom. In its Südkurier decision from 1967, the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) approved the advertising section as news that is protected by press law. Based on the knowledge that the freedom of the press not only covers the dissemination of one's own opinions, but also pure news without one's own statements, the BverfG ( BVerfGE 21, pp. 271/278 ff. - Südkurier; 64, 108 / 114f. ) the protection of advertisements whereas these also represent messages. The protection of the advertising part could also result from the financing function, namely in the event that this is the indispensable economic prerequisite for a press that is independent of the state. This assessment of the advertisement and the resulting press law consequences apply, for example, to both daily newspapers and advertising papers - regardless of the scope and design of the editorial part ( BGHZ - decision of the Federal Court of Justice, 51, 236/246 - Stuttgarter Wochenblatt I; AfP 1992 , 65/67 - Official Gazette).

Separation of editorial and advertising

As for all media, the principle of separating editorial content and advertising applies to advertising papers. Anything else would be so-called surreptitious advertising and is not permitted under competition law (Section 4 No. 3 UWG ).

Advertising papers have often been accused of failing to consistently observe this separation.

Delivery bans / refusal to advertise

Advertising papers are not part of traditional advertising and are assigned to the press. Due to the not inconsiderable editorial part, they may also be served to those who refuse to advertise . A letterbox sticker “Please no advertising” does not apply to the delivery of advertising papers. A letterbox sticker "Please no free (or unordered) newspapers" relates to the object more precisely and is more likely to be observed. In this regard, the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court (judgment of November 12, 1993 (2 U 117/93)) states: “Those recipients of the weekly newspaper who feel harassed can refuse further insertions with little effort by affixing a clearer sticker or by a prevent telephone / written communication to the defendant and (if necessary) enforce it in court. ”Nevertheless, the right of service was confirmed in several judgments by higher regional courts (see also Bodendorf in AfP 4/89 pp. 322-325“ The distribution of advertising papers against the will of the addressees ”). The Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart, for example, in the judgment of November 12, 1993 (2 U 117/93), once again determined the general press status of the advertising papers and thus decided the sales question in their favor.

Delivery of advertising papers (and brochures) on Sunday

When the new Working Hours Act (ArbZG) came into force on June 6, 1994, the 1938 working time regulations were replaced. In particular, the new regulation allows work on Sundays and public holidays for economic reasons. With the new Working Hours Act, the delivery of weekly newspapers on Sundays and public holidays was permitted nationwide. Until 1994, the delivery of advertising papers on Sundays and public holidays was legally controversial and in many cases even prohibited.

Editorial data protection

The negotiations on editorial data protection under the direction of the German Press Council also explicitly affected the advertising papers. Due to an EU directive, the amendment of the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG) became necessary, which raised concerns about a significant restriction of the press privileges. This tightening could be averted by regulating editorial data protection in the self-regulation of the German Press Council. The Minister of the Interior requested that the advertising papers be included in this system (cf. press release of the German Press Council of November 28, 2001).

Advertising papers in Austria

In Austria advertising papers are called “free weekly newspapers” or “regional newspapers”. You usually have a 50% share in editorial reporting. According to the “RegioPrint2005” study published by the Austrian Regional Media Association, Austria’s advertising papers have a reach of 76% in the residential population aged 14 and over (LpA). This corresponds to 5.1 million readers or 8.5 million contacts.


As in Germany, the term "advertising paper" has a clearly negative connotation in Austria and many publishers even perceive such a designation as a swear word, since the titles usually have a good 50% editorial staff and publishers attach great importance to not being referred to as advertising papers become. As a rule, only those titles that exclusively publish advertisements are referred to as advertising papers - and that is the absolute minority. In Austria, advertising papers are called “regional (free) weekly newspapers” or simply “regional media / regional newspapers”.


As in Germany, Austria's advertising papers are doing very well. In the period before 2000 in particular, there were significant increases, especially in terms of circulation. If it was around 6 million copies in 1999/2000, it is now estimated at 8 million. According to estimates, there are around 200 advertising papers in the Alpine republic - roughly as many as six years ago.

Reading time

According to RegionPrint, the reading time of many titles, similar to Germany, is well over 20 minutes (but usually less than 30). The title editions also vary greatly. For example, the district journal Vienna is distributed fortnightly with 592,000 copies. The Carinthian Week from Klagenfurt, in turn, appears weekly, on Wednesdays, and 219,462 copies (ÖAK) are sent to households. Some titles have over 20 sub-editions. However, of the 8 million advertising papers / regional free weekly newspapers, only around 3.4 million editions are checked - by the Austrian Community to determine the distribution of advertising media / Austrian circulation control (ÖAK). This corresponds to a market coverage of 46.5%.


In contrast to Germany, where statistics are traditionally used to a great extent, Austria often does not have continuous statistics. For this reason, for example, the turnover for advertising papers / free weekly newspapers is currently only estimated on the basis of surveys and is accordingly around € 175 million net per year with a clearly increasing trend in the single-digit range. Recently, the association has also been collecting the net sales development of its members on a monthly basis in order to have more specific data at hand.

Association of regional media in Austria

Almost all important advertising papers / free weekly newspapers are organized in the Association of Regional Media Austria (VRM). Of the total of 200 titles in Austria that appear predominantly weekly, around 148 are in the association. This corresponds to a circulation of 7.3 million copies per publication interval.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Statistical data from the Federal Association of German Advertising Papers