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11 . 10 . 21

Advertising in print media gets more results than Facebook

Words by: Print Power
For brands to survive in a competitive marketplace, building long-term awareness is crucial. And in a blow to social media, a definitive new study underlines how incredibly effective newspaper ads are for doing just that
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In a huge boost for print, Australia’s largest ever cross-media effectiveness research concludes that advertising in print news proves far more effective than social channels.

With implications globally, the landmark Australian ThinkNewsBrands and Benchmark Series study has found that ads placed in news media consistently outperform those on Facebook and YouTube. And print proves the most effective for embedding a brand in people’s memories.

The study’s aim was to understand the impact that news channels have on a consumer’s propensity to purchase by measuring short- and long-term memory as well as brand lift – a measurement of the direct impact that an advert has on your perception of a brand and your likelihood to purchase. Dr Duane Varan, CEO of audience research lab MediaScience oversaw the mammoth research effort that included more than 5,350 participants and ran across 42 custom print runs and 252 websites over six days in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth – all of which created more than 6,000 unique brand exposures. To make it even more comprehensive, three different sizes of print ads were created – full, half and quarter page ads – and 6- 15- and 30-second ads were produced for digital display and video.

Print’s huge potential

The results were astounding. They show that advertising in printed national and metro newspapers is 8.5 times more effective than ads in social channels, with 34 per cent unprompted recall compared to 4 per cent for the run of the internet (ad space bought in a series of websites). Ads placed around digital news come in at a strong second, with unprompted recall at 26 per cent for digital national and metro news versus 11 per cent for the run of the internet.

There were dynamic figures for champions of multi-channel campaigns too. Print and digital news combined generated 3.5 times greater brand lift, with 32 per cent unprompted recall compared to just 5 per cent for run of the internet. News outlets were also more effective for short-term ROI, with 10 per cent stronger sales growth than social channels.


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Multi-channels boost your brand

Steve Goodman is one ad man advocating a multi-channel approach. Formerly the Managing Director, Print Trading for Group M – the global media investment management company for WPP’s media agencies - he’s recently launched The Press Business, an agency that specialises in getting adverts into print newspapers. He believes that many clients are now re-evaluating their media mix, with the balance moving away from online-only and back to a multi-channel approach where print has an impressive booster effect on digital. ‘There is an indisputable mountain of evidence that backs up my belief on the importance press can play as part of a client’s media mix, and that mountain of research continues to grow. This latest Australian study reiterates findings from a host of other research papers conducted by almost every media channel. There has been a view for some time that the pendulum has swung too far in favour of digital. But it is only now that there is a recognition of the impact that has had on brand salience.’

Goodman believes that digital has spawned a growing reliance on short-term thinking, an attitude that could ultimately prove short-sighted too. ‘Digital can deliver positive and immediate effects for a campaign and will continue to do so, but it is important to ensure there is a blend of media activity to take account of numerous objectives. This means not just redirecting consumers to a website with the hope of a sale, but also building long term recognition of a brand, which ensures its survival as the marketplace becomes ever more competitive. This is one area where press can play an important role. If brand awareness is not grown and developed, digital activity will also lose its efficiencies.’

Advertisers have forgotten how good print ads look
Duane Varan
CEO / MediaScience

News ads imprint on your memory

What is it about news channels that give brands such salience? Dr Varan says it’s all about the power of context. ‘The overarching finding of the research is that national and metro news, in print and digital form, are extremely effective at embedding brands in people’s memories,’ he explains. ‘The reason for this is that when people consume news content, they enter an active and alert state of mind, and this carries over to the advertising on the channel.’ Dr Varan was most struck about the superior performance of print ads. ‘Just to see how much stronger newsprint was vis-a-vis a Facebook ad, you’re getting a much greater impact. A print ad is even outperforming a video ad. That’s pretty telling. A print ad is very rich. Compare that to the fleeting experience of seeing an ad and scrolling through it.’ 1

The printed page provokes a reaction through its very tangibility. The print reading experience commands your time and attention, so it figures that any ad that runs alongside it will make an impact too. It’s this awareness that figures in cementing a brand in your memory and can ultimately influence your perception of that brand.

Trust in news is growing

While the report concludes the success of brand recall around ads in news channels is due to the fact that news is cognitively engaging, could it also be down to the trust generated by established news channels in this post-truth era when social media is a hotbed of misinformation? Denise Turner, Director of Research and Insight at Newsworks - the UK’s marketing body for the national news publishers - thinks it’s a factor. ‘In my view there are a number of reasons why brand recall is higher,’ she says. ‘Readers actively choose to engage with the content. It’s where they go to understand the why behind the what, and what it means for them. And trust is a key driver of success for brands that choose news brands. We’ve seen that in a number of studies we’ve carried out, and it’s particularly the case since the pandemic. We know for instance that 66 per cent of people said they value journalism more since the pandemic, and that’s even higher for younger people.’2

Indeed, Kantar’s recent research into The Trust Gap reveals that connected consumers trust the news and information they see in print and broadcast media more than on social media. And more people distrust social media than trust it.

Addressing the perception gap

Yet despite the mounting evidence to the contrary, a recent Ebiquity study reveals there’s still a perception by marketers that digital is more effective than print. So how does the print industry redress the balance? ‘The Ebiquity results point to a shortfall in awareness,’ says Steve Goodman. ‘It is the role of the press marketing bodies to address those client perceptions and challenge them with new and compelling research and case studies. In the UK, both Newsworks and Magnetic continue to do an excellent job of this, however the noise from other media, and in particular digital, can be somewhat overwhelming. It is important therefore that media owners and agencies play their part too. So many agencies are putting digital at the core of everything they do, often at the expense of other media. As a result, the skills required to plan and buy press are becoming ever increasingly absent at media buying agencies.’

Marketers should wake up to print’s value

Dr Varan believes that despite the study being researched around Australian consumers, the results would be similar if applied globally. ‘The numbers might not be exactly the same, but the trend would be,’ he says.1

ThinkNewsBrands general manager Vanessa Lyons believes the study should be a wake-up call for marketers who are blinkered in their view of advertising in news channels, both print and digital. ‘Wouldn’t you rather reach your audience in an active, receptive state than a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scroll? The findings are clear: as an advertising channel, news has the power to increase the propensity to purchase due to the halo created by the engaging, trusted and professionally produced content,’ she says. ‘This research, combined with the impressive daily reach of news, its vast and growing audience, and clear cross-platform performance, make a compelling case for marketers to reappraise their perceptions of news.’3

The sheer scale and scope of this cross-platform comparison is unprecedented, making it one of the most compelling cases yet for the immense power of print. Marketers, the evidence is clear. It’s time to sit up and pay attention to print!

1 Source: Colin Kirkland,

 2Source: Newsworks, World Without News