Newspapers offer “triple the ROI”

newspaper a dying mediumThere’s little doubt one of the most commonly parroted views in the marketing world is that “newspapers are dying”. And we’ve certainly seen fewer print-based newspapers surviving the onslaught of other media, and changes to the way newspapers relate to the world.

Nevertheless, advertisers who are cutting back on newspaper advertising are less effective, according to yet more new research which claims the pendulum has swung too far towards digital advertising.

A study by effectiveness consultancy Benchmarketing for Newsworks, the marketing body for national newspapers in the United Kingdom, was based on a meta-analysis of 500 campaigns over the past five years across six categories and concluded that advertising with newspapers increases overall revenue return on investment (RROI) by three times.

Not only that, but it also makes other media more effective – television twice as effective and online display four times more.

Now we might assume that such a survey would come up with a finding like that, given the commissioning body, but then again the stats do look compelling.

Increased advertising effectiveness

On a sector by sector basis, the research found that adding newspapers to a campaign increased effectiveness by 5.7 times for finance; three times for travel; 2.8 times for retail; 1.7 times for automotive; and 1.2 times for FMCG.

Presenting the data at the Newsworks Effectiveness Summit in London, Sally Dickerson, managing director of Benchmarketing, highlighted how some categories are significantly underspending on print.The analysis suggested, for example, that a typical finance brand should be allocating 21% of its spending to print newsbrands for maximum campaign effect, but in 2015 the figure was just 8%.

For supermarkets with a typical spend of £40m, around 27% ought to be earmarked for print newsbrands, but the actual figure last year was 16.5%.

Dickerson suggested that search and online display had grown too much and that the spending pendulum should really be swinging back to 2013 levels.

One outcome of the Benchmarketing study – which forms one part of a “triangulation” approach that also takes in studies on business effectiveness and brand health – has been the creation of an ROI optimiser tool to help media planners establish the ideal proportion of any given budget that should be invested in print newsbrands.

Rufus Olins, CEO, Newsworks, said: “It is clear that newspaper brands boost other media as well as performing a powerful role in their own right. Running a campaign without newspapers is like trying to bake a cake without baking powder.”

As we have previous noted with TV, these are interesting findings which seem to argue that newspapers at the very least still deserve consideration for your marketing dollar.

At MOP we are studiously “Media Neutral”. Which means, in short, we believe all advertising media works, when it’s used properly. So having said that, here are …

Our rules for ads in newspapers

First of all, obey the first rule of all advertising.

Make your print ad compelling and interesting. When it was one of the dominant advertising mediums, newspaper ads were brilliant, witty, pertinent, eye-catching. Nowadays they often seem to be something of an afterthought in the overall context of a campaign.

One of a series of Stihl ads that broke the boundaries for newspaper advertising - brilliantly.
One of a series of Stihl ads that broke the boundaries for newspaper advertising – brilliantly.

Remember the way people consume the medium. We once heard that a typical reader takes just 0.2 of a second, when happening on an ad in a newspaper, to decide whether to continue reading it. If your ad doesn’t grab – and we mean grab – their attention in 0.2 of a second or less, then goodnight Irene.

Is your ad extending the value of the editorial surrounding it?

Previous research has revealed one of the reasons people like newspapers is reading the ads that catch their eye and talk to their interests. So if you’re advertising financial services, for example, are you giving any thought to where your ad runs in the paper, (near the financial news, for example), or is some barely-out-of-school media buyer popping it into ‘the book’ wherever it fits, aided and abetted by a newspaper sales rep who doesn’t really care where it goes, so long as it goes in somewhere?

Think about the medium. Newspapers are about news. Can you make your ad newsworthy, rather than bland? And never forget the  power of the word “New”, in itself. After “Free” and “You” it is the most powerful word in any headline.

Don’t forget the joy of beautifully crafted copy that delivers solid information in an interesting and easy to read manner. Not everyone will read copy, but research again reveals that about 10% of readers will always read the copy in any ad they’re taken by. That’s still a lot of people that you have a chance to engage with, in depth.

And last but not least, be sceptical about a newspaper’s ability to deliver a valuable online component to your ad campaign. It’s not that all major newspapers don’t have good online presences now – they do – but it’s dead easy for a media rep to sell you the idea of adding in some online ads to your main ad in the paper, talking vaguely about synergies and maximising impact and so on. It might all be true, but you need to understand whether their online presence is the right place for your online ad, or somewhere less obvious but providing a better ROI. Just “because it’s there” is not a reason to buy it.

MOP logoNewspapers are certainly going through dramatic changes, and face testing times. But it may be that their role in our lives is simply changing. Whereas previously no one could reasonably have been said to have started their day without leafing through the local daily, maybe now people will consumer newspapers more selectively, as a leisure activity as much as a news delivery mechanism.

And there’s something interesting about leisure time. We are often more receptive to sales messages when we are relaxed, and taking time out for ourselves.

Think about that.


Author: Stephen Yolland

Director of Creative Strategy and Partner @ Magnum Opus Partners.

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