Research shows strength from integrated newspaper advertising

One way we at The Newspaper Works are trying to help advertisers understand and achieve their communication goals with campaigns integrated across printed newspapers and websites is by extending our creative effectiveness testing (440 plus print ads tested to date) into the realm of online display advertising. In a world first (that we know of), and working with the highly credentialed research company Ipsos, we’ve sought to understand how the addition of online display advertising provides incremental benefit to an advertiser’s print campaign (and vice versa).

We’re not testing audience metrics or cost per transaction (not every category can or should provoke an instant online purchase after ‘stalking’ their customer via programmatic media buys … but the creative effectiveness of a message and whether the message is strengthened when presented in an integrated way, across more than one platform. With nearly 60 percent of Australian printed newspaper readers also accessing newspaper content on various digital devices[i], the opportunity to tell an unfolding brand story across multiple channels (sometimes referred to as transmedia strategy) is reality. We want to understand more about how readers respond to those kinds of scenarios.

Just as there are any number of variables that can be considered when determining creative success of a TV or print campaign, the same applies for digital. Generally speaking, there are three sides to the triangle that is ‘a successful ad’. In no particular order and without suggesting they carry equal weighting, these may be defined as:

  1. Media selection and placement;
  2. How compelling the offer being made really is to the audience;
  3. Creative impact.

This study tests only one of those three ‘success components’ (i.e. creative impact) as the other variables are as numerous as dot com start-ups at the bottom of the receivership ocean.

Respondents enjoyed this print ad from Volkswagen, promoting the Motor Show launch of their new mini-hatch.

VW Mini-Hatch Motor Show Ad

We also tested this OTP (over the page) digital execution that ran across newspaper websites.


When a third set of respondents were shown both the print and digital under forced exposure, the results were compelling against key brand consideration metrics. Familiarity and understanding, brand affinity and relevance were all increased amongst respondents as a result of viewing the integrated messages.

As anyone who’s worked on car advertising accounts knows, perception and getting the brand onto a consideration list, is a major part of the marketing battle in the long purchase decision making process of the potential car buyer.

So we can see how integrated print and online can work for auto brands, but what about bricks and mortar retail advertising?

In the following example, Myer generated high levels of response by integrating their retail newspaper buys across print and digital platforms.

Myer ran full page print ads with ‘one day offers’, alongside a corresponding digital display campaign on major newspaper websites.  We tested the creative effectiveness and discovered that while print performed well against retail averages, the addition of digital achieved an incremental response which could potentially translate to significantly increased revenue at the cash register (see chart B).




Chart B

Finally, this example of an ad from Bupa (which appeared in newspaper inserted magazines), coupled with an innovative and dominant digital execution really helped develop the understanding of Bupa as a brand, with respondents finding the integrated messages appealing and response-worthy (see chart C).




Chart C

Incidentally, we’ve constructed our samples using a weighted distribution of heavy, medium, light newspaper readers (as defined under the currently available Morgan readership metric), and include those that profess to not read newspapers at all. When we strip out ‘non-readers’ from the sample and re-rate the data, the results are even more marked in terms of the incremental benefit derived from integrating print and digital newspaper exposure, to gain creative effectiveness. In other words newspaper readers view newspaper advertising more favourably than non-readers.

Through the creative effectiveness testing of integrated newspaper media campaigns, we can demonstrate display advertising whether print or digital, adds significant value to how consumers relate to many brands. And newspaper readers (a discerning bunch) enjoy and respond to good ads. We can also point to clear examples where the integration of messages across platforms, has led to an overall stronger response from readers … one plus one can, in many instances, equal three.

It is reported, that Australians are less trusting of mainstream media reporting than they were years ago. However despite the loudly voiced opinions of the Twitterati, newspapers are still the most trusted commercial media source for opinion and information. A big part of that trust is the strength of newspaper brands. One of the reasons other media and the public remain fascinated by the boardroom machinations of newspapers is that they feel emotionally invested in mastheads. They are an integral part of the fabric of society like no other medium can claim. Sounds like good company for brands to keep.

*Newspaper Creative Benchmarking is a component of the Newspaper Effectiveness Metric, run by The Newspaper Works. Our research partner is Ipsos Media CT.

• Creation of the All Newspaper Norms was conducted in 2008 and is based on 5,100 ad observations across 40 test ads, with a representative sample of 1737 respondents

• Automotive Averages were defined in 2009 based on over 3000 observations across 25 test ads, with a representative sample of 1177 respondents

• Retail Averages were defined in 2008 based on over 7000 ad observations across 36 test ads, with a representative sample of 2475 respondents


–          Deloitte, Vox Populi : State of the Media Democracy Survey 2012

–          Essential Vision, Trust in Media, January 22 2013 and Nielsen Trust in Advertising Report, 2012 (Australia)

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