How to measure effectiveness against ad sizes?

  • How do you measure the effectiveness of a print ad – in terms of sizes? I’ve looked at both Nielsen and Gartner for this data, to no avail. I’m hoping that my fellow networkers can shed some light on this topic. If a Client elects to shift from running one full-page print ad to running three separate quarter page ads, repeatedly, what type of results would this typically yield? Question by: Carson Hornsby

An interesting question indeed, and till today I’m yet to find some formally researched numbers or formula that establishes the ad-size to campaign-effectiveness. However, any advertising specialist or media strategist would tell you that the rule of the thumb is: “Make Impact with Size; Gain recall with frequency“.

Following the simplest of communication processes, AIDA (Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action), when any new campaign is launched for the first time, the primary media objective is to first draw attention and impact among the defined target audience for the campaign. Unless attention is drawn memorably, it’s more likely that the Interest in the campaign messages will not be developed.

Therefore, every campaign – whether print type or multimedia type – usually is launched with a bang, drawing attention among the target audience and more! In Print, the IMPACT is ensured through bigger sizes, teasers before the launch day, special operations (covers, peep-ins, or any other means) or a combination of 2-3 modes together.

Next, it’s important to generate and retain interest. Part of this objective is met if the launch ad is impactful. However it’s necessary to sustain the interest level for some time, in order to develop desire. Ways to sustain interest are – interesting creative in terms of copy, visual, delivering same messages in different modes and formats, engaging the audience, etc.

In most cases, due to the shortage of time or money, agencies / advertisers are unable to test out campaign creatives among test audience before release or engage audience in other ways and in other media. Therefore the next best method – that of repeating the same messages in the media – ensures recall plus generates interest in the advertised product / brand.

However due to high media costs in almost every market, multiple repeats are possible only if the ad sizes are reduced in such a way that optimum sizes are maintained to have the repeats throughout the campaign period.

Now to answer your question, assuming your creatives are okay, the campaign effectiveness will surely depend upon impact and recall.

Assuming that you have sufficient budgets, you need to have bigger size print ads for IMPACT – at least during the launch stage. For RECALL, you need to increase the “Opportunity to See” or more simply the frequency of the ads – preferably in reduced sizes, to save on budgets.

However, if your budgets are limited, you should aim to have more frequency through smaller sizes, since it has been proved in the past that even below-average messages get well registered and recalled if they are hammered again and again. In such a case, the IMPACT of the campaign is actually developed by the sheer power of repeats – even if slowly, and definitely, by huge numbers that run for months.

In case you’re forced by a situation to run either one-ad or a 3-ad campaign within the same budget, you should be successful if you go in for the latter, since this would ensure the minimum frequency* required for recall – however small! But then the frequency gained at the cost of minimum size further can also affect the campaign by its noticeability, as well as affect brand image adversely.

*It has been proven by research that 1st insertion of an ad gives impression, 2nd gives registration while the 3rd one gives recall.

(Also Look for Other answers; Also posted as a link under Answers@LinkedIn page)

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