Topics & themes

Research on advertising’s larger topics and themes from audience attention to measuring effectiveness.

Price-based vs image-based ads

What’s the difference between price-based ads and image-based ads in print newspapers?

Print newsbrands fulfil a number of roles in the consumer buying journey, as we discovered in our How people buy research. Brand advertising can help shape perceptions before the journey even starts, as well as create awareness, challenge assumptions and convey a sense of stature and importance. More tactical communications – which include most price-based ads – aim to shortcut the decision-making process and provoke immediate action.

It is therefore often assumed that image-based advertising will most affect consumer perceptions of the brand itself, with a bias towards more emotional impact, while price-based advertising will be most effective at prompting action.

Using the RAMetrics database, we investigated which measures were most responsive to these different types of ad.

Firstly, it is clear that image-based ads are more instantly memorable: on average, 64% of readers recall seeing an image-based ad compared with 57% of readers noticing price-based ads.

In fact, the analysis shows that image-based ads outperform price-based ads on almost every measure.

  • People are more likely to pay attention to image-based ads
    We might expect readers to take more notice of the details in price-based ads, but 26% of readers pay close attention to image-based ads compared to just 19% for price ads
  • Brand familiarity is stronger for image-based ads
    Perhaps because of greater branding consistency in image-based campaigns, readers are more readily able to identify brand knowledge (43% of readers versus 32% for price ads)
  • Image-based ads generate more positive feelings about the brand
    Brand positivity is 11% points higher than for price-based ads. This is not unexpected, as consumers tend to react more emotionally to image-based ads (+8% points) and find them more personally appealing (+9% points)
  • Image based ads feel more fresh and original
    Outscoring price-based ads by 12% points
  • Importantly, rational response is also more powerful for image-based ads
    More new information (+8), easier to understand (+6)
  • Image-based ads trigger more actions
    While the objectives of price-based ads might have skewed more towards prompting consumer action, the analysis shows that the more emotionally involving image-based ads actually drive more actions, whether that is web traffic, store/outlet visits, buying behaviour or word of mouth recommendation and discussion

These results give us an insight into how readers respond to newspaper ads and what they deem to be important. This is definitely not to say that price-based ads don’t work, as among people who notice the ads the average score across the action measures is 19%. However, the findings definitely give us some food for thought. If the creativity of price-based ads was improved, so impact, involvement and personal identification was stronger, would this result in more effective communications?

View more RAMetrics insight

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