Does size matter?

Insight from RAMetrics

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Newspapers have been innovating for years. Their creative toolkits will show a wide array of exciting formats, from z-shaped ads to scented ink, cascades to translucent paper. But let’s take it back to the basics.

Does size matter? Is bigger better? We’ve always known, always had a gut-feeling about the answer to this question – but now we have proof. Using the RAMetrics database, we examined the effectiveness of ad sizes in successfully driving recall, attention/recognition, engagement and action measures.

Larger ads are certainly noticed more, with 82% of readers recalling cover wraps and 73% recalling full page ads (vs 62% for half page ads, 63% for quarter page ads and 58% for strip ads). In almost every metric you will get significantly better results from full page ads compared to their smaller counterparts.

  • Bigger page ads are given more attention– 49% of readers paid close attention to full page ads and cover wraps compared to 41% for half page ads and 38% for quarter page ads.
  • They are easier to understand – 73% found full page ads easy to understand, whereas 67% felt the same about quarter page and strip ads.
  • Bigger ads are more appealing – 54% of readers found full page ads more appealing versus 44% for half page and 40% for quarter page ads.
  • They prompt action – 42% of readers would recommend the company/product if they saw a full page ad, whereas 33% for half page ads.

These findings are corroborated by Lumen eye tracking research. Lumen tracks what people are actually looking at when consuming media, how long they spend on pages and dwell time for ads. They have found that full page ads are viewed by 92% of people on average whereas half page ads are viewed by 81% of people. Dwell times are also higher – with average dwell times of 3.3 seconds versus 2.2 seconds respectively.

However, the strength of the creative has a major part to play. A great idea in a small space can easily outperform a weaker idea in a big space. In fact, the highest performing quarter page ad is recalled by 90% of readers – significantly higher than the average recall score of 63% for quarter page ads and even 73% for full page ads. We can eliminate the advertiser’s category as a predeterminant of creative success, as there’s a mix of industries making up the top and bottom of the lists.

Previous ad testing by Newsworks has shown that the best way to make the most of smaller spaces is to design the ads to fit the space. This sounds pretty simple, but there are many examples where artwork has been “shrunk to fit” so everything is hard to see, or where so much has been crammed in, that the ad is confusing or looks like too much hard work.

The RAMetrics results give us confirmation on what we’ve always instinctively known – bigger is indeed better. Size does matter, but the importance of creativity should not be ignored.


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