Study Finds Spectacular Print Ads Get Spectacular Recall

They may surprise readers, but the results delight advertisers.

Spectacular magazine ads--including multi-page spreads, three-dimensional pop-ups, scented ads and ads with an audio component--produce a big bump in measures like brand recall and the number of readers that read ad copy, according to a new study from GfK Starch.

Philip W. Sawyer, senior vice president of Starch Communications Research, says the study, commissioned by Time Inc., heralds a new era of creativity in magazine advertising.

"Advertisers are looking for a way to bust through the ad clutter, to cut through all the noise," Sawyer observed. "With this study, print is finally getting its due." He says from his point of view, "this is a wonderful thing. I want to have creative people explore the boundaries of creativity and their imagination in magazine advertising."

Sawyer enthusiastically predicts that "when we really start exploring spectacular ads, just like the Super Bowl, people will pick up a magazine to see the ads."



Among the case studies in Sawyer's report are two ads that scored a remarkable 100% in reader recall and engagement--measured by readers remembering and reading at least part of the ad.

The first ad, for Pepsi Jazz, was a two-page spread featuring a three-dimensional pop-up of the opened bottle, with music notes cascading from the opening and a small audio chip in the page playing jazz music. On the back of the second page, readers could use a scratch-and-sniff tab to "sample" its Black Cherry French Vanilla flavor. The second ad, for Clairol Herbal Essences conditioner, also paired a three-dimensional pop-up with an audio chip, this time a chorus sang "Hawafena" to the tune of Handel's "Hallelujah."

Somewhat less spectacular ads still do well, Sawyer added, noting that readership of ad copy increases 136% when a scent strip is included.

Although Sawyer was enthusiastic about the capabilities of spectacular ads, he cautioned against unrealistic expectations for their effectiveness.

"If you have a six-page ad, you can't expect recall or these other measures to increase sixfold, compared to a one-page ad. It's incremental." But if you have a magazine with a readership of 6 million, he adds, "and the number of people who recall an ad goes from 500,000 to 750,000--it's only a 50% rise, but that's a huge number of people."

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