Does size matter?

Insight from RAMetrics


Newspapers have been innovating for years – 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 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 66% of readers recalling full page ads (vs 56% for half page ads and 52% for quarter page ads). Indeed, on almost every metric you will get significantly better results from full page ads compared with their smaller counterparts.

  • Full page ads are given more attention– 26% of readers paid close attention compared with 19% for half page ads and 17% for quarter page ads.
  • They’re easier to understand– 46% found full page ads very easy to understand, but only 41% felt the same about half page ads and just 35% for quarter page ad.
  • They are more appealing– 30% of readers found them personally appealing versus 21% for half page and 19% for quarter page ads.
  • They prompt action– 25% of readers would recommend the company/product, whereas half page ads and quarter page ads both scored 15%. 

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 half page ad is recalled by 100% of readers – significantly higher than the average score of for ads that size and even full page executions (ad recall average: 56% and 66% respectively). 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, for example, looking at full page ads supermarkets take the lead but also the tail.

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 known instinctively – now we have proof. Bigger is indeed better. Size does matter, but the importance of creativity should not be ignored.

View more RAMetrics insight