Designing Better Ads – Stop Readers In Their Tracks

I recently attended a webinar on Designing Better Ads conducted by Susan Down, Director Marketing at the Canadian Newspaper Association. Susan inferred from extensive market research and readers’ surveys by epic advertising research organizations. She advised on what generally works and makes print ads stand out from the clutter. Many of us would be aware of the points she highlighted and may be putting some of these in practice. It was, however, useful to get an affirmation and systematic refresher. I share the information with you, as I gathered, adding my two cents’ worth on few points.

Ad Size & Color
1. Ad size matters. Full page ads are noticed 48% more than smaller ads
2. There is no difference in the visibility of ads between right hand side and left hand side page positions. If the ad is attractive, it will get noticed on any page.
3. Color ads are noticed 33% more than black & white ads. The impact of color ads has grown over the time. Susan showed a bar chart to highlight this fact. She also informed that women notice color ads more than men.

4. Simple creative with one idea (message) per ad works better than putting several ideas in one ad. Similarly, shorter headlines catch readers’ attention.
5. Make ad topical. News is fresh so keep the ad current too. Leverage current events and developments. I see this strategy is being used often these days by alluding to the economic downturn in ads.
6. Match your message with the editorial section of the newspaper. This, I believe, reinforces the message of the ad and also increases the probability of it being noticed by the reader. A person who is reading an article will possibly notice the relevant ad in the same section.
7. Link the message with the brand. There should be a clear connection between ad message and the brand. The tone and feel of the ad should reflect the DNA of the brand. For example, if a brand promises good health or fun, the ad should reflect this through use of aspirational copy, candid graphics and bright colors.

8. According to the research shared in the webinar, visual makes an impact on readers because mind retains visuals 30% more than text. Bigger visual works better and one visual per ad is recommended.
9. Visuals of children, celebrities and animals work better. Though there should be a clear connection between visuals, copy and the advertised brand.

Ad Appeal
10. Build curiosity in your ads because newspaper readers are information seekers. However, as copy increases the notice-ability decreases. Thus a balance is needed in using the right number of words to present a story. People generally crave for food, health and sex. These elements could be used to enhance ad appeal. Add color to increase ad appeal. Moreover, the research showed that ads with contrast colors grab attention.
11. Don’t use white space / negative space at the expense of other elements. I think this is usually not an issue in print ads because mostly advertisers tend to put more information than less in ads.
12. Create ads on feelings and base it on new and fresh ideas. Try developing emotional response as people buy because of emotions and rationalize it later. Susan advised making ad likeable by incorporating meaningful, genuine and warm copy and visuals.
13. Humorous messages are more effective than threatening messages. Try making your reader smile and leave them with good feelings.
14. Highlight benefits not features because people buy products and services to solve their problems. They look for solutions to their problems, pain points and wants. This is the fundamental branding concept that propagates selling solutions not product and services.
15. Finally, link all communication pieces together. If you are using multiple medium, use similar messages in all mediums in order to enhance the band recall and impact of your communication. I think advertising works best in tandem, when two or more mediums are used to reach the target market and convey similar message. This creates the synergy for effective advertising and communications.


About Fazal Siddiqi
Fazal Siddiqi Writes on current marketing, branding, communications, diversity and socio-economic opportunities & challenges. He lives in Canada and works for OPAL Marketing Group.

One Response to Designing Better Ads – Stop Readers In Their Tracks

  1. Pingback: Popular Articles « Marketing Mirror

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