Part of any hard-nosed magazine negotiation strategy is to ensure that the client’s advertisements are placed far forward in the publication or on a right-hand page or in a premium position (e.g., back cover or opposite the table of contents). But does it really matter?
Let’s take a magazine-positioning pop quiz.
Positioning in the front of the book is more effective than the back of the book.
Answer: true. Position within a magazine does affect recall, but not as much as one might expect. According to VISTA (an industry ad effectiveness study), there’s a 7 percent drop in ad recall from the front quarter of the book to the back quarter of the book.
An ad on a right-hand page is more effective than an ad on a left-hand page.
Answer: false. In terms of right- vs. left-page positioning, there’s virtually no difference in recall.
Magazine ad clutter decreases ad recall.
Answer: false. While we might be a little leery of being in an issue like September Vogue (an issue akin to a phone book), there is a negligible difference in recall even with the large amount of ad clutter.
Cover positions don’t affect ad recall.
Answer: false. Cover two (the inside of the front cover) is the top-performing position, with about a 40 percent increase in ad recall relative to a standard run-of-book page. Cover four (the back cover) delivers a 21 percent increase in ad recall, and cover three (the inside of the back cover) delivers a 15 percent increase in ad recall.
The real truth
While the physical position of an ad in a magazine may impact recall, the greatest impact factor is contextual relevancy. Studies (Starcom/Affinity’s VISTA Service) have shown that total recall can increase as much as 46 percent when an ad is positioned within content directly relevant to the advertised product.
Magazines, like other forms of media, are not simply a commodity. They’re a pipeline that connects consumers with our clients’ brands. Placing our clients’ ads when and where the reader will be most receptive to seeing them will have the greatest impact on recall – and ultimately on the effectiveness of the message.