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Total Recall - 5/28/2013 -

Attention ad sales teams: Here is some recent research that reveals the impact of color and size on print advertisement recall.

By Arthur Catalanello

Publishers are often asked by their advertising clients: "If I can only afford to upgrade size or color, which one should I choose?Ē Thatís an excellent question, so letís examine the impact of color and size on advertisement recall.

We analyzed records from the extensive AdQ Studies database. Itís a database that contains nearly 195,000 records dating back as far as 1994. But for the purposes of this analysis, we looked at just the past four years of studies. We examined main issue, run-of-the-book advertisements only (i.e., no cover position ads, no ads appearing as loose inserts or in special supplements).

What did we learn? Color ads significantly outperform black-and-white ads in recall seeing and recall reading scores for fractional and full-page ads. On average:

  • Recall seeing for fractional ads using color is 44.4 percent higher than for fractional ads in black-and-white.
  • Recall reading for fractional ads using color is 37.5 percent higher than for fractional ads in black-and-white.
  • Recall seeing for full-page ads using color is 29.0 percent higher than for full-page ads in black-and-white.
  • Recall reading for full-page ads using color is 26.7 percent higher than for full-page ads in black-and-white.

Itís interesting that while many publishers have adjusted their rates cards to reflect one flat rate based on size and frequency (because in the digital world, color no longer costs more than black-and-white to produce), some advertisers still choose to run black-and-white ads. Based on the findings above, that simply does not make sense.

Size vs. Performance

To determine the impact of advertisement size on performance, we used the same data set as used for the analysis on color. What we discovered is that size has an even greater impact on advertisement recall than color does. In fact, the difference is significant and dramatic. On average:

  • Recall seeing for full-page, black-and-white ads is 72.2 percent higher than for fractional black-and-white ads.
  • Recall reading for full-page, black-and-white ads is 87.5 percent higher than for fractional black-and-white ads.
  • Recall seeing for full-page color ads is 53.8 percent higher than for full-page fractional color ads.
  • Recall reading for full-page color ads is 72.7 percent higher than for full-page fractional color ads.

How should publishers use this information to sell more advertising? Publishers can use this information to justify the premiums they charge and to convince advertisers to trade up in size and/or color. For example, if you charge 50 percent more to increase from a half-page to a full-page ad ó but readership of a full page is 75 percent higher than for a half page ó then the advertiser is getting more bang for the buck with a full-page ad.

Arthur Catalanello is vice president, senior research officer at Harvey Research, Inc., an independent research company for advertisers and content publishers in North America, Europe, and Asia.


 

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