Topics & themes

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

Does size matter?

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 70% of readers recalling full page ads (versus 54% for half page ads and 46% 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 (29% of readers paid close attention compared with 19% for half page ads and 14% for quarter page ads)
  • They’re easier to understand (47% found full page ads very easy to understand, but only 38% felt the same about half page ads and just 30% for quarter page ad)
  • They are more appealing (34% of readers found them personally appealing versus 20% for half page and 14% for quarter page ads)
  • They prompt action (26% of readers would recommend the company/product, whereas half page ads scored 16% and quarter pages 6%)

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.

So does size matter? It does to an extent. As well as looking at average scores, we can also look at the highest and lowest scores for each size. The highest performing full page ad achieves higher recall (89%) than the best-performing half page (81%) and quarter page ad (73%), but with a narrower margin than seen with the average. The lowest performing full page ad scores 10% points higher on recall than its half page equivalent.

The strength of the creative has a major part to play too. A great idea in a small space can easily out-perform a weaker idea in a big space. The highest performing half page ad is recalled by 81% of readers - well above both the 54% average for an ad of its size and the 70% average for full page executions. We can also eliminate category as a predeterminant of creative success. There’s a mix of industries making up the top and bottom of the lists and for half page ads both the top and bottom ads were for supermarkets.

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

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