More than a few years ago (1994) Giep Franzen wrote a book called Advertising Effectiveness. His analyses of TV commercials and print ads led me to wonder whether there’s a parallel between his last-millennium media research and the issues facing digital advertisers today. (And yes, you can try these at home!)

Franzen analyzed full-page, full-color ads appearing in women’s magazines. He combined the results of several research methods: eye-tracking, surveys, and “through-the-book” tests like Starch. Are you sitting comfortably, magazine in hand? Counting down from 100%:

  1. 10% of readers don't open the page that the ad is on.
  2. Another 10% don’t consciously remember seeing the page that the ad is on, although they did physically see it, according to eye-tracking.
  3. Fully 25% don’t recognize there was any ad at all on the page -- the eye saw, and some content was recalled, but the advertising on the page didn’t register. Exposure time was very likely less than 1 second.
  4. Another 9% see the ad but get the category wrong (we’re falling below half of all readers at this point ...)
  5. Another 7% get the brand wrong.
  6. Another 8% get the brand right but the specific product wrong – e.g., the right brand of mayo, but not light mayo. (Now we’re down to less than one-third of readers ...)
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