THE newspaper industry is pressing its case for a share of shrinking advertising budgets, rolling out research to prove its usefulness as a marketing medium.
Industry body The Newspaper Works, which represents publishers including News Limited, owner of The Australian, yesterday released the first in a planned series of "effectiveness reports", this one focusing on newspapers' usefulness to retail advertisers.
Still to come are at least six detailed case studies of individual multimedia campaigns isolating the contribution made by papers.
"We're going through a stage where everyone has to prove their value, and newspapers are no different," said The Newspaper Works chief executive Tony Hale. "Part of our role is to get advertisers and media agencies to understand how they can use newspapers as effectively as possible." While mountains of research had been generated tracking the effectiveness of TV ads, little of the kind had been done anywhere in the world on newspapers, Mr Hale said.
"With the fragmentation of media consumption ... it is necessary now to generate more information and more sophisticated feedback on how people are responding ... to prove the effectiveness of newspapers for advertisers," he said.
"(Retail advertising) is a very important part of newspaper revenue, so anything we could do to provide insight is valuable."
The research would mostly be used as a sales tool by ad sales reps in presentations to advertisers and media agencies, he said.
Total newspaper advertising in 2007-08 was $4.1billion, according to the Commercial Economic Advisory Service of Australia, of which retail accounted for about 30 per cent, or $1.2billion.
For the retail report, research firm Ipsos Media CT tested 36 ads among about 2500 people, garnering 7000 responses. Ipsos examined how consumers related to retail advertising in newspapers, which ads worked and which did not and how it could be made more effective. The best retail ads were found to belong to value supermarket chain Aldi and budget homewares maker Ikea, with their ads above-average in driving product sales and building their brand images.
The worst-performing were ads for Tabcorp offshoot Tabaret, which consumers struggled to recognise and failed to link with the brand, although Mr Hale said that did not mean they were not working.
"(The research measures) people's response to ads, not how effective they were in the market," he said. "But what it does mean for Tabaret is they could be using retail ads more effectively than they are."
In its head-to-head comparisons, the survey reported that Woolworths ads were much more recognisable than those of arch-rival Coles and that David Jones ambassador Megan Gale was more closely linked to its brand than was her model counterpart Jennifer Hawkins with Myer.
Ads that used distinctive, consistent templates performed better, and strong use of colour, such as Qantas's striking red, and having a "face" for the brand increased recognition.
Companies that successfully linked newspaper and TV campaigns included Bunnings, Jetstar and Target.
Newspaper retail ads are regularly criticised for being busy, often featuring lots of products and being jammed with information, but the research found "cluttered" ads for brands such as Officeworks, Bunnings and Dan Murphy's worked well.
But Mr Hale said many advertisers were ill-served by lacklustre newspaper campaigns generated by "lazy creatives".
"The standard of newspaper creative is really poor," he said. "They're putting all their effort into TV. I hope one of the effects (of the research) is that advertisers pay more effort to generating newspaper creative than the minimal effort a lot of advertisers give at the moment."
Source: The Australian