A picture is worth a thousand words

Time is short. On average, we spend 2-3 seconds looking at a print ad. It’s longer than we give digital ads, and we’re more likely to see ads when they’re in print than online, but our haste sets advertisers a challenge.

Eye-tracking research shows that unless searching for a specific product, a reader is more likely to look at the picture first.  Using the right image is therefore fundamental to an ad’s success. The AJ creative team’s expertise in image selection underlines its importance in boosting sales. Here are a couple of pointers:

Match people and setting to your target market

We often choose images including models to attract attention and offer relevance and empathy. Many of our clients produce age-based, needs-driven products so the ads need to feature realistic models of a suitable demographic. Using imagery that speaks to your target audience is vital.

Make product shots clear

Product shots must make the product and its features clear – don’t lose it among the clutter of its setting. Framing, composition and lighting, alongside visibility, are key to showing a product at its best.

AJ has widespread experience in delivering top quality photography. We work with a small selection of photographers, each specialising in different areas, offering a range of expertise to suit our clients’ requirements. If you need to outsource photography or looking for a fresh approach, we can help.

Stock images offer an alternative to commissioning photography when your time or budget is limited. There is a range of options available, with royalty-free imagery and rights-managed options. Quality and cost varies, so AJ can advise on what’s right for you and help you source what’s required. Our experienced studio team can also work with purchased images and successfully ‘comp’ your product into royalty free shots, thereby providing a perfect image.

Traditional stock libraries, such as Getty, offer a variety of images with better technical quality. They can offer the ideal solution when you are looking for very specific images, perhaps featuring a specialist subject or product, or when you need better editorial standout. These higher standards come at a price, particularly for rights-managed images priced per insertion, so can be a great solution as long as you have the budget to match.

In contrast, microstock image libraries, such as iStock, are ideal for sourcing low cost multiple shot options. The libraries are extensive so are ideal if you’re looking to use different shots for different media, e.g. press ads and brochures, or testing a range of images. Ease of use, accessibility and the lower cost of microstock image libraries can come at the expense of quality; editorial standards are not as high and technical standards can vary considerably. Lower cost inevitably increases use so you risk seeing your chosen image elsewhere, reducing your exclusivity.

Whichever way you source images, the message is clear. Don’t say it, show it. Billboard ads, the ultimate time-pressured attention seekers, have been described as a punch in the face. Print ads are similar – you have two seconds to deliver your right hook – and we’re here to help you deliver the knock out blow.

Contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or email lesley@aja.co.uk to learn more about how AJ’s creative expertise can help you.

Brand guidelines: stimulate or stifle?

Brand recognition is undeniably important to promote and protect a company’s identity, but does adherence to inflexible brand guidelines stifle sales results when the primary creative objective in a DR ad is to deliver response?

At AJ, we know successful DR advertising combines great creative with smart media buying, working together to drive the lowest cost per sale.

DR creative needs to include a point of difference, a reason to buy, product benefits and to show range. With such high demands, we ask clients to be open-minded, flexible and to trust our depth of DR experience.

This at times causes unease. Clients can become understandably nervous about the tendency of direct response ads to veer away from brand guidelines. We appreciate the investment clients devote to their brand but know from experience that following such guidelines too closely can be detrimental to response.

When you are looking to create a responsive ad to drive sales off the page, strict adherence to brand guidelines can get in the way. AJ’s creative team know what they’re talking about and our ability to turn around failing press is rooted in our true understanding of DR. As a result, based on our recommendations, we’re always prepared to take responsibility.

At AJ, we believe you can reflect a brand’s visual identity without it compromising an optimised direct response ad. It’s just a matter of balance.

Brand guidelines are developed for a reason, they help to define and communicate the personality of a company. They are not there to stifle a company’s bottom line. When style takes over from substance, it’s time to re-consider.

Learn more about how we can produce the right DR creative to support your brand. Contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or email lesley@aja.co.uk

Staying ahead of the competition

AJ is keeping Harrington & Byrne ahead of the competition in a busy coin market by expanding reach inside and outside their traditional press channels.

AJ started working with gold and silver experts, Harrington & Byrne, five years ago. Over that time, spend has increased significantly aiming to maximise return from press as quickly as possible.

When the coin market started saturating, and CPNC increased, AJ had to work harder and smarter to drive costs down. First was the need to replicate the positive results seen from Harrington & Byrne’s traditional full-page ads. These have been complemented by a range of sizes including half page and 20×2 mono. A variety of positions, such as OBC and solus TV and puzzles sites, and multiple sections have also been used to maximise the breadth of readership within a single title. Testing new titles was another important part of the redeveloped media plan.

Just as more press titles bring new audiences, so do additional channels. AJ has bolted on online display packages at huge discounts to attract a different audience and encourage online traffic to the Harrington & Byrne website.

The biggest move, though, has been to test TV, bringing yet another fresh audience and exciting potential. An initial two-week test in February has expanded into a constant TV presence ever since.

With the low-hanging fruit well and truly picked, hard work and clever planning is bringing new life to Harrington & Byrne’s results ensuring they stay ahead of the competition in an increasingly competitive market.

Contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or lesley@aja.co.uk to discover how AJ can drive up your results.

Replicating success on television

Buoyed by the early achievements of AJ’s print media plan, Kitchen specialist, Dream Doors, is now hoping for success on television.

Dream Doors had restricted their television advertising to just one channel and been disappointed with results, seeing a very high cost per lead and low ROI.

Tasked with improving their results, AJ set about compiling a test campaign, choosing the top converting channels and those with relevant content for the ABC1 45+ target audience.

While Dream Doors had previously scheduled content for the summer months, AJ chose the cost-effective Christmas period for the test campaign. There are bargains to be had over the Christmas/New Year period – competitive pricing, high viewing figures and strong consumer buying. Ideal for a company trying to overcome previous disappointment.

And overcome it they did. Web traffic increased by 25% year on year from Boxing Day through to the New Year. Even more impressively, cost per lead plummeted by almost three quarters.

Not surprisingly, Dream Doors were keen to continue. AJ began to optimise the channels selected, dropping those with the highest CPLs and lowest volumes. Coming out of the low-cost Christmas period inevitably increased CPT, but results have continued to please. Web traffic has remained elevated year on year and CPL sits at just a third of the 2017 figure.

Dream Doors are thrilled with AJ’s approach, broadening their outlook and spend to optimise results.

Let AJ boost your results with their test and learn approach. Contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or lesley@aja.co.uk.

 

 

Putting your eggs in more than one basket

Kitchen specialist, Dream Doors, is reaping the rewards of AJ’s media plan broadening their advertising spend.

Last year we featured our new client, Dream Doors, in Frequency or coverage: which is best, debating the merits of broadening rather than narrowing media spend.

Dream Doors had been disappointed their results were not hitting targets after booking into the Daily Mail exclusively. Our plan expanded their reach to see them test 12 titles. We’ve tested six sizes in different sections and positions, from advertorials to outside back covers, with a range of creative.

Guardian Weekend
Telegraph magazine

We test ‘newspapers’ as a sector, not just one title. This approach enables us to reach a much broader audience and establish the key target groups through low risk testing and learning.  We have already improved attribution by incentivising codes and are beginning to build a picture to roll out further this year. Early results are encouraging with cost per lead, even prior to maturity, 25% lower than when using the Daily Mail alone. And web traffic has increased by 50%, hitting a new record for hits in one day at the end of January.

We are now applying the same principle to television. Previously, Dream Doors had restricted their spend to ITV3 alone. Our plan sees them air on 15 channels, selected for their ABC1 45+ profile. We’ll be reporting back as we see their results mature.

To discover how coverage can out-perform frequency in your media plan, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or lesley@aja.co.uk.

 

Beat the Boxing Day blues

Never mind the Quality Street and mince pies, we have found the perfect sweet spot for Boxing Day.

This year, we have booked television campaigns running from Boxing Day through to early January for more clients than ever before, building on the successes we achieved in 2016.

The immediate post-Christmas period is a perfect time to be on television. Unlike newspaper circulations, viewing figures increase. Many of us reach the point where we’ve played charades with the in-laws once too often and relaxing in front of the box is a welcome escape.

As well as high viewing figures, advertisers are reaching the working population during daytime at cheaper daytime pricing, with a rock bottom CPT, up to 50% lower than average. Viewers are in ‘shopping mode’, offering the chance to tap into the January sale mindset early.

Take advantage of post-Christmas advertising with a tailored television campaign. Contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or lesley@aja.co.uk.

Countdown to Christmas

How late is too late for direct response advertising?

There’s a shopping conundrum appearing in the run up to Christmas these days. It feels like Christmas shopping starts earlier every year, with Black Friday cementing November firmly in the consumer spend calendar.  Yet it also appears the cut-off for shopping finishes later and later.

Do consumers have less time to shop, relying more on internet shopping, available 24/7? Is next day delivery the expected norm, encouraging us to buy later? And is November’s Black Friday actually for our own shopping, as we discovered in Black Friday sales – trick or treat?, leaving December for buying gifts?

Time to re-think our strategy. We used to advise clients to wind down their advertising at the end of November with responses falling significantly in December; now the reverse is true with results remaining buoyant in the approach to Christmas.  December has become a key month for clients, and often the most cost-effective for those selling off the page.

We can regularly secure particularly competitive rates throughout December, so taking full advantage of the festive bargains this year. By extending both our timings and budgets, knowing the response rates will reward us and our clients, we’re looking to finish the year on a high.

Let us help you celebrate a bumper year end too. Contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or lesley@aja.co.uk.

The Silver Pound – spurn at your peril

Most clients chase the younger market, but the real value for many is found in baby boomers.

A surprising number of AJ clients say their target audience is younger than their customer profile suggests.  They’re embarrassed about their ‘mature’, old or retired customers and look for help to target a younger audience.  AJ has lost accounts over the years in this desire to re-brand to attract the younger, ‘cooler’, urbanite market – seemingly cash rich, time poor.

Look at the figures though, and it just doesn’t add up. As we outlined in New pound coin bang on trend, the value and size of the ‘silver pound’ is increasing rapidly.  Retirees are the fastest-growing sector, estimated to comprise 40% of the population by 2025.  They spend over £43 billion a year, an increase of 53% over the last 10 years, compared to 21% in the non-retired age group.

With more disposable income than any other age group, they’re making the most of it, with spend focused on enjoying themselves.

The retirement market is not ‘old’ and, many would admit, not always mature. As well as adding years to life, today’s retirees are putting plenty of life into those years.  They are often mortgage free, house proud and holiday more than once a year.

If companies look to re-brand, this market responds to a fresh creative approach.  Move away from a ‘traditional’ ad, but don’t be ashamed of this older audience.  Quite the opposite, embrace all it represents. Connect with these consumers; they can transform your business.  They are less price sensitive, valuing customer service and reputation.  Recommendations are important and offer your cheapest and most lucrative sales. Focus on exceeding expectations, and your customer journey could result in better margins and ultimately profit.

Find out more about embracing the value of the silver pound. Contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or lesley@aja.co.uk.

Frequency or coverage: which is best?

Media owners often tell us their readers need to see an ad several times before it’ll gain traction, but we beg to differ.

Media owners claim frequency builds a successful campaign, with readers needing to see an ad at least three times to secure a decent response.  With a limited budget, this suggests you’re better putting all your eggs in the one basket of your best targeted title.  You build your brand with just one readership, believing in return you’ll be rewarded with response.

In reality, we find quite the opposite is true.  The first ad we run in almost any title gives the highest response rate, becoming the target chased by subsequent insertions.

As a result, with limited budget, we take a ‘far and wide’ approach rather than ‘tall and thin’.  We test as many titles as possible showing strong coverage for the identified target audience.

New client, Dream Doors, is the latest to try this change of approach.  Traditionally, they’ve put all their money into the Daily Mail, but with flagging results, they’re keen to try our broader approach.  Our first schedule includes 14 titles so we’re expecting some interesting comparisons.

Full page, Daily Telegraph Magazine
Half page, Sunday Express
Full page, Guardian Weekend

We’re confident we’ll see a lift in their results, and look forward to reporting back when we do.

To discuss replacing your restricted media schedule with one aiming far and wide, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or lesley@aja.co.uk.

Location, location, location

Location has come to dominate house-buying. Can it be lucrative for advertisers too?

There is a direct correlation between position and response rate, so AJ works hard to secure its clients prime sites.  Despite buying short term and in classified, we often achieve sites under or facing matter without paying extra.

But is it worth paying more for these positions through a campaign or just when trying to build a brand?  The answer probably lies somewhere between the two – the ideal being prime sites bought last minute below market rate.

Cover positions are seen, theoretically, by every reader.  Our results reflect this with ads placed on the outside back cover (OBC) gaining a response four times higher than a site under editorial within the classified weekend section.  As long as we’re not paying 400% more for this site, it’s a winner.

In contrast, ads in display, i.e. nearer the front of the paper, do not generate the necessary high-level response required to justify the increased price.  Time and time again we see prime, solus sites, such as front or back covers, working for direct response.

Not surprisingly, it’s been a hard sell to clients, but we’ve converted scepticism into enthusiasm with good results.  They are now snapping up these sites as fast as we can secure them.

We saw one of best results this year for knitwear specialists, the Cashmere Centre, with a 10 x 8 front page strip in the Telegraph exceeding ROI by 40%.

Daily Telegraph 10 x 8 Front page strip

Also in the Telegraph, quality meat producers, Donald Russell are keen advocates of 25 x 4 ads under food and drink editorial on a Saturday, with a circulation 15% higher than mid-week.  To expand their options, we tested a mid-week OBC.  It hit the target for new customers by the end of Tuesday and is still going.

Daily Telegraph 25 x 4 OBC
Daily Mail 15 x 2

Even a small 15 x 2 OBC in the Daily Mail, which costs more than a half page in classified, generated three times more leads for our new client, Dream Doors.

Encouraged by the success these positions are bringing AJ’s clients, you’ll be seeing us use plenty more of them.

To discuss how the right ‘location’ can bring success to your campaign, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or lesley@aja.co.uk.