TV strengths continue to shine

At AJ we have always appreciated the power of TV advertising and understand its huge effect on all elements of a campaign.

Studies have shown that DRTV is the strongest of the ‘demand generating’ channels i.e. the media that are the most likely to produce an actual response rather than harvest data.

A study by Group M, ‘TV’s Response: new rules, new roles’ found that TV also helps drive a response through several channels directly. It generates 25% of all media-driven sales delivered via the phone, 45% of all media-driven sales via bricks & mortar and 29% of media-driven sales through web traffic driven direct-to-site; this includes non-paid-for-search.

TV also drives an indirect response through online channels, generating 33% of all interactions that were media driven for brands on Facebook.

The IPA’s ‘Advertising Effectiveness: the long and short of it’ by Binet and Field, found that by including TV in your marketing campaign, it can increase its efficiency six-fold. TV and online synergy is particularly large. Binet and Field’s analysis showed that by having TV, Broadcaster Video on Demand (BVOD) and online video all working together, it can increase the efficiency of a campaign by over 50%. And TV creates the most short to medium-term sales. ‘TV’s Response: new rules, new roles’ showed that, on average, media accounts for 39& of sales in the short to medium-term, i.e. within 3 months of a campaign finishing.

TV advertising drove a third of these media-driven sales – more than any other communication channel. This was significantly higher than the next most impactful channel which was generic pay-per-click search.

The study showed that TV has far reaching, but often hidden, effects across the entire communications system.

With viewing figures rising and rates remaining attractive, advertising on TV is now more affordable – and effective – than ever. With the average cost of buying the spae for mone person in the UK to see a TV ad at less than one pence, why wouldn’t you give it a go?

If you would like to discuss how to test TV, or how to make your TV campaigns work better, please contact

Data and Info sourced from:

Group M, Binet and Field and the IPA

Season to be cheerful

Shorter days, dark mornings, colder weather – there’s no denying it, Autumn is here. Usually a beautiful time of year and my favourite season, Autumn’s start this year has been rather blighted by the weather, with a month’s worth of rain falling in just 48 hours in many parts of the country.

This was the case here in Bath – I am not the only member of the team now to be addressing dripping walls/leaking windows as a result. I have to admit, I pretty much stayed indoors all weekend, eschewing a sodden walk in the wind and rain in favour of hunkering down indoors by the fire.

But that’s where I went wrong. We all need light, particularly sunlight, to thrive. We need fresh air and to be outdoors as much as we can – perhaps this year more so than ever before. And we mustn’t let the weather stop us, as Rachel, my AJ colleague and mother to two-year old Alfred, told me this morning.

‘I am trying to adopt the Scandi approach of embracing the cold,’ she said. ‘To get outside as much as possible, regardless of the weather.”

With this in mind, Rachel told me how she and her family and dogs headed out in the torrential rain and wild wind on Sunday. Alfred ran through the woods in delight, arms waving, embracing the nip of the cold and the wind on his face. He loved it. ‘So long as you have a warm place to come back to – and something good to eat too – you’ll be fine.’ Rachel added.  And Alfred declared the walk the best part of his weekend too.

As another Alfred (Wainwright) is known for saying, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’.  He may be right; there’s nothing worse than cold, wet feet on a long walk.

So, this weekend, I shall be heading out in my woolly hat and biggest coat, welcoming whatever the weather brings with open arms (hopefully) – and I hope you do too. Learning to embrace the great outdoors and the changing seasons might prove to be our saving grace, particularly should full lockdown restrictions return for us all. Just remember the pot of coffee and a slab of carrot cake to welcome you home.

Happy to help where we can

An update from Alice Buttling, MD

As we emerge from lockdown we are looking at our business to see how we have held up. When lockdown began (something I never thought would happen and had no preparation for) all businesses were faced with fight or flight options and some had easier choices to make than others. 

What I quickly saw was that there were business who were determined to either make the best of the situation or ride the storm, and it became a bit of a mission of ours to help as many businesses as possible not only survive but come out of it in a strong position.   I genuinely wanted to help any small business who had been forced to close their doors to see whether newspaper advertising could help them and offer a new opportunity.  During the last 5 months we have worked with 6 new clients – all of them new to off-the-page advertising.  In addition, we have helped achieve fantastic growth for a number of clients who have found opportunities in the madness.

One of the things I am most proud of during this time is the resilience and determination we have shown as a business – and I am pleased to say that we have all benefitted from this.  Helping businesses, whether our existing clients or new business prospects, is a virtuous circle; it helps our team at AJ stay motivated and busy, it helps media owners by driving revenue, it helps the client themselves and of course it helps AJ to maintain turnover and income.

So I am grateful we are in this position because it has been very rewarding. It is by no means over and perhaps the hardest time is still to come, but through our performance during the last few months, I feel confident and excited that we can continue with the energy and enthusiasm to deal best with whatever is thrown at us next….

If you would like to discuss how we might help you during this time, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01225 758222

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent.

It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

Well we’ve certainly been put to the test in 2020. Simple tasks we might have previously undertaken with barely a thought – popping out to the shops, hopping on a bus – are now very different, requiring preparation and more consideration for others, and ourselves too. From queuing outside the supermarket, to wearing a mask, from regularly sanitising our hands to working from home; life has become a little more complicated for us all.

And now we find ourselves in the middle of August, in the depth of the summer holidays. If you have had to cancel or completely change your holiday, you are not alone. Amongst the team we have seen Copenhagen swapped for Cornwall, the Italian sunshine switched to Snowdonia, Seville in May moved to Seville in September…which might move again now there’s quarantine… and many more trips postponed for 12 months or simply shelved altogether.

But we’re still here. Everyone’s individual experience is different of course but collectively at AJ we’ve carried on working; we’ve accepted new ways of working and we’ve tried hard to make the most of this time for each other and our clients.

As things gradually get back to some kind of normal, with a staggered return to the office in progress, schools opening up in September and people stepping out and spending again, I think we will look back at this time and feel rather proud of ourselves. We’ve accepted that we’ve had to live and work differently and we’ve all just got on with it. And we’ve been very fortunate, when we know others have not. We’ve survived.

We may not know what the next six months have in store for us but we shall continue to cope, adapting our ways of living and working as we go. For me personally, I am heading to the Scottish Highlands. Not quite as planned (now at the height of the midgie season) but still delighted to be having an actual summer holiday.

Wherever you may be spending your summer this year, here’s wishing you a happy, healthy time.

Plockton, Loch Carron, Scottish Highlands

Lessons learned in lockdown

Alice Buttling, MD, reflects on the learnings of the last four months:  

1) Survival of the fittest is certainly true, not just in terms of Covid19 (ironic), but in terms of business.  We have seen how our clients have reacted; some have been able to flourish and adapt and some have not.  Each, however, will emerge from this a different business moving forwards.

2) Relationships are what makes us strong. We already knew this, but our close work with our clients and media partners has enabled us to have the trust in our clients to try things, despite the situation.  Our relationships with the media have meant that in return for continued investment they have reduced rates and improved positions.

3) Team works better as a team – whilst working from home is currently a necessity and everybody has adapted well, in order for our business to thrive we need everybody functioning at maximum capacity and able to work at our usual (speedy) pace and communicate quickly and easily.

4) Adapting has been key – important to our clients but also to us.  Zoom meetings, online software, new ideas and making the most of quieter time to get things done that might have fallen onto the backburner have all helped us to keep our business running.

5) Positioning in the market for AJ has never been better. We have gained credibility and a bit of a voice (which can be built on further) and we look forward to discussing new opportunities with businesses who start to feel it is time for change.  We are proud to have taken on four new clients during lockdown and are delighted that they have all put their faith in AJ to drive their businesses forward during this time, and beyond.

We all know there are still tough times ahead, but we are now returning gradually (and safely) to our office environment and a return to some kind of normal. I know we have a strong team whose collective priority it to continue to do what we have been doing for many years – helping clients grow their businesses in the most cost-effective ways – and to do it even better than ever before.

Alice Buttling, Managing Director & Co-Owner

So how well are we really doing?

At the end of May we posted about how we are looking after our clients during lockdown. We thought we were doing a good job but acknowledged that the proof would be in the pudding – i.e. we would only know just how well we were doing if we asked them. So we sent our client surveys out….

We’ve received the majority of surveys back and – phew – with an overall score of 97%, our clients tell us that they feel very well looked after indeed.

“There hasn’t been a break in your services which is much appreciated.”

From the beginning of lockdown, our priority was to maintain the level of services we provide without interruption so to hear that our clients have experienced this is a huge relief. Not only that, but wherever possible, we have also helped our clients make the most of a changing market and given advice and guidance of real value; we’ve received great comments in return:

“You’ve definitely made a difference to the business during this time. The OBC ads in the Tel mag & Stella have helped drive some excellent weeks of lead and appointment generation. Getting back in the The Times Mag has also been successful.”

“Delighted with how the relationship has developed”

“Impressed by how you’ve been able to scale the business. Onwards and upwards!”

“Our OTP has ensured we are still recruiting new customers during this difficult time.”

Sending out regular surveys to clients is important. It makes it easy for clients to tell us what they really think about the services they are paying for and helps us to improve or make changes as and when we need to. And it’s extremely satisfying – and reassuring –  to be told that we’re actually doing a good job too. Onwards and upwards indeed!













AJ’s lockdown client survey

What’s your best position?

First of all, let’s look at Display vs Classified. The rule of thumb is that only 40% of the readership read Classified however you pay a heavy price for Display, competing with big brands who don’t worry about ROI (it’s a bidding war). There are, however, ways of buying strategically in Display which we do, such as buying smaller sizes and premium Classified slots and, as in the current climate, where we are getting particularly good rates.

Cover sites are great because we don’t need to rely on environment or editorial, you aren’t fighting to be seen – it’s a numbers game and covers deliver the most exposure; they are seen by every reader. Front covers are the best, followed by Outside Back (OBC) then inside front then inside back. In addition to this it helps if you can keep the reader on the page for as long as possible. For example, the OBC of the Telegraph is a particularly good space because it contains weather and puzzles which increases the dwell time and we see some really strong results here. As we said, these come at a price; in national press and some magazines we are able to get on the covers of supplements which have a similar impact to the main book yet are much cheaper – ultimately everyone sees them regardless of wanting to open the supplement and read what’s inside.

David Salisbury, Outside Back Cover,  Daily Telegraph

Inside positions adjacent to relevant copy / similar environment are particularly valuable too. This helps to target an engaged reader who is hopefully already interested in the subject/product and the relevant article keeps them on the page and stops them flicking by and missing the ad. This is where having a knowledgeable media buyer who is in regular contact with the publishers is a real bonus, as he or she will be aware of upcoming features, know what’s running where / when and can advise clients accordingly.

Editorial input – We work closely with particular titles to gain editorial for specific products and then we run an advert underneath or alongside this and we have done this for a range of clients – again, associated editorial increases response. Strong past examples include  clients in the health and wellbeing sector, Nature’s Best and Wellbeing.  We are currently running a DPS in The Garden for ladder specialist Henchman that includes strong editorial content supported by an impressive call to action.

Henchman, RHS The Garden July 2020

This is a great example of creative and media working closely together to generate the best value from spend. Henchman were keen to gain editorial content in their favourite titles and we suggested an advertorial to do this. We worked closely with our client and The Garden to create a piece that matches the magazine’s style while still incorporating the style and content required by Henchman.  Both parties are very happy with the finished piece with the title moving the piece further forward at no extra cost.

Working with new clients

When working with a new client, for the most part we tend to build the schedules / budgets as we go, once we have the learnings to work from. It’s all about keeping the risk as low as possible while we work out creative, sizes and audience. We focus on buying the space as cost effectively as possible and building on the results from there (walking before we can run). Likewise, for clients with smaller budgets, the focus is on cost and value so there is less opportunity to test positions until we are happy that the results are robust. STRATEGY IS EVERYTHING!

If you would like any advice or guidance on the best positions for your own products or services, please contact me:

Jack Gillett, Media Manager




From Zero to Hero – a case study

We were approached by Velo and Co with regards to selling their face covers off the page.

Previously a product used for sport, they had seen an article in the Wall Street Journal about a runner who had started using her tube bandana as a face cover when out running as she was finding it was getting more and more frowned upon to be running in the park and she did not feel comfortable (both in terms of look and feel) running in a disposable mask.A quick bit of research showed us that places like Amazon and Ebay sold them but only with a delivery time of 5-6 weeks We agreed there was clearly a market, especially if we moved fast.

So Velo Face Covers were born. A website was developed, stock ordered, photos taken, ads created and within 2 weeks of the concept the stock was in and the first ads ran with a small test in Daily Mail Scotland.  This uncovered a few issues with Google and PPC, but these we quickly ironed out and within days people were receiving their products – unlike if they ordered them elsewhere.  A ‘buy one get one free’ offer with a unique code for each ad meant that we could track the ROI.  The demand for the product grew as the Government announced firstly that they advise wearing a face cover when out of home, and secondly that it will be mandatory from the 15th June to wear one on public transport.

One thing we quickly discovered was that if you rely on PPC to drive traffic to your site you can’t compete with Amazon and Ebay – search terms ‘face cover’and  ‘face masks’ cost approx 60p a click and the conversions were poor at 3%.  When you run an ad in press you can drop these terms and just support your brand: ‘Velo and co’ clicks cost 3p and covert at 25% – making it impossible to make money if online is the only source of promotion.  Stick an ad in a newspaper and the whole thing changes.

So many new companies think that digital is the only way, that press has had its day – but if you want to drive traffic to your site, from people who have already decided they are interested in buying your product then you really can’t beat press.  Without running these ads, Velo would not have had business and in the 4 weeks since it began they have sold over 5000 face covers from a media spend of less that £10k.

The key was spotting the opportunity, acting fast, taking a low risk and being able to scale up with the supplier quickly and speaking to an agency with experience of selling off the page.

So if you have an idea or existing small business and you hadn’t considered press being the main driver of sales, then give us a call and see if we can take you from zero to hero too.

You can have your cake and eat it

Thinkbox Lockdown Stats

As you would expect, TV viewing figures have increased and this provides an opportunity for advertisers to either gain some brand awareness or, more importantly right now for most advertisers, to drive business.

As we are easing out of lockdown and businesses are able to trade slightly more freely than they have been for the last 2 months, there is a great opportunity to either test TV or go back onto to TV if you have tried it before and it has not given the returns you hoped for.  Here are some of the reasons why from a recent Thinkbox study.

Linear TV viewing (live rather than on demand) has increased by 21%, the most significant category has been previous ‘light’ viewers where this has increased by 51%.  Daytime viewing has surged as has the ABC1 and 16  – 34 audience. This group is essentially those who work full time, have busy lives and have less time in ‘normal life’ for watching  – so they have been previously hard to talk to through TV advertising, making them more valuable.

Shared viewing has increased by 30% and big screen viewing makes up 71% overall – so families are sitting down together rather than watching in isolation – this is a better environment for advertising as it provokes discussion.

Karcher started on TV at the beginning of lockdown when they were restricted by their retailers closing and they saw an increase in their search volume of 300%

Out & Out have spent at a steady £25k a month and have seen more than 5 times the return on spend on their outdoor furniture so are due to start with indoor in June.

So TV has never been better value, there is a high supply of inventory, lower pricing (30% down on this time last year), more flexibility in booking deadlines, higher engagement in TV viewing and if you are targeting ABC1’s then you would typically get a high wastage during daytime (which is offset by pricing but you still can’t reach the younger working population) and now you can literally have your cake and eat it. And here’s one to tempt you:

Gratuitous pic demonstrating homebaking prowess under lockdown

If you are a brand looking to emerge strong from a very low spend to build back some momentum and gain share of voice; a TV advertiser who has tested TV in the past and not seen the returns or you are new to TV altogether – we can help you to take advantage of TV.  It could just help you gain a valuable advantage from the current situation.


Still pretty much ‘business as usual’

As a business we’ve adapted well to working remotely and the team continues to be incredibly busy – so much so that our media partners tell us we are booking more space than any other DR agency out there.

It’s not all been plain sailing of course; IT can be frustrating and communicating remotely is never as easy as firing a quick question across the office.  We’ve had to come up with solutions to the raft of problems that lockdown has created to ensure we maintain and deliver the range – and high standard –  of services our clients are used to.

Regular phone contact, Zoom meetings and the continued swift turnaround from our creative head and studio team have ensured no time has been lost. And the media team has been quick to create schedules that make the most of the reduced rates and deals they have negotiated.

Helping our clients deal with lockdown.                                                                     We know that clients rely on us for a vast range of services and support and we’ve been very quick to help them make the most of this new situation. We’ve looked carefully at the changes in how media is consumed at home to help clients maximise the new opportunities available. Considering each client individually, we’ve identified how their messages – and their preferred channels –  could be adapted to suit this changing climate. Examples of this include focusing on leisure wear for one client, gift/treat ideas to cheer you or a loved one for another and a budget- friendly radio campaign for one of our gardening clients.  For those clients unable to physically sell their products or services currently, we have suggested cost-effective ways that will maintain customer interest so they are front of mind once selling can resume.

Continuing communications                                                                                           We see a lot of success sending printed pieces by post to help generate new business which in the current climate, with everyone working from home, is no longer viable. So, rather than lose this contact stream we have re-created our printed pieces into digital books.  Although not as tangible, they are easy for people to access and to read in their own time and a particularly useful tool as digital engagement is currently higher than ever.  And where we would usually supply clients with hard copies of their newspaper and magazine adverts, we have been supplying them with detailed digital presentations with the visuals and information so that everything they need, and would usually receive, is clear and concise and to hand.

Working with new clients                                                                                                  We are delighted that, despite the lockdown, we have been approached by two new clients looking for immediate help with their direct response advertising. In both cases, we have been able to respond immediately and have produced ads for both, agreed budgets and created media schedules in the usual way, without any delays. We are very excited to be working with them both.

Even a ‘visit’ from the auditors hasn’t held us back                                     Usually taking over the boardroom for a week, with all files and information close to hand, an audit from external accountants is a relatively straightforward process so we wondered how the remote experience might pan out. Whilst not the easiest of tasks undertaken remotely, we have managed to provide all the information required without too much difficulty and our financial controller – and the auditors – seem to have coped with the situation remarkably well and are still speaking to each other.

We hope our clients, old and new,  and our partners would agree that we are continuing to offer and deliver the level of work and range of services they have become accustomed to and expect. In fact, we are in the process of sending out our client surveys to ask them precisely this so watch this space for further news to see how we are really doing..

It remains to be seen, of course, how long we will continue to work under lockdown but we are glad to report that here at AJ at least, it continues to be pretty much business as usual.