Print ads have always been an industry staple.  The strategic goal behind print ads is different for every advertisement that goes out, some are made to build an image, other are created to drive consumers to a brand’s website, but whatever the reason, marketers hope that the time, money and creativity that is spent on these ads pays off.  MRI Starch Communications recently set out to learn what makes print ads successful i.e. moves the needle in terms of sales.  The company looked at 297 magazine issues between October 2008 and April 2009.  For each product category, they analyzed the top-performing ad based on the fact that the ad drove at least 15% of readers to make purchase.  Here are some of the results:

  1. Context Matters – Many of the ads that drove their readers to make purchases were in the magazines that were of natural interest to their target audience.  Ads for America’s Milk Processors (55% purchase rate), Vaseline Clinical Therapy Body Lotion (26% purchase rate) and Lipitor (18%) are all wellness and healing products, and were all placed in Health Magazine.  The male-dominated reader like Maxim magazine’s demographic saw ads for Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs and 21% of the audience tuned in as a result of that ad.  So, it is very important for advertisers to do their research and know their target audience.  Once this information is known, you can strategically place your print ads so they will be seen by the people most apt to purchase your product.
  2. Price May Matter – Research shows that none of the top print advertisements featured expensive products like automobiles, vacations or home appliances.  Because of the amount of time and research that goes into larger purchases, a single advertisement is less likely to motivate a consumer to go out and purchase high ticket items.
  3. Brand Perception Matters – MRI not only analyzed the ads, but they also asked their readers what they thought about the specific brands that were advertised.  Research shows that if a reader is favorably disposed to the brand, there is a greater chance that they will purchased the product or service being advertised.  Four of the nine categories had 90% of readers who were favorably disposed to the brand who had the highest conversion rate.

The MRI research presented isn’t necessarily anything that those of us in the industry didn’t already know.  But it does reinforce the fact that it is our responsibility as the marketer to do our due diligence in getting to know our target consumer, placing advertisments where they will see them and making sure we are a brand they can connect with and have a favorable response to.

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