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@aja.co.uk

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.


Media Update from Alice Buttling

In a week where we thought things might be getting clearer with the promise of a ‘road map’ to exit lockdown, it seems the opposite has happened and there is more confusion than ever (and frustration I am sure). Not a huge amount has changed on the media landscape, but there is certainly talk of pricing returning to ‘normal’ from June with the ‘lockdown’ deals coming to an end, but this will obviously be dependent on demand, results and circulations from a direct response perspective. Below is a quick snapshot by sector.

Newspapers – the circulations have settled, with winners and losers, but even the ones that decreased have not seen significant drops.  Sunday papers are seeing increases in double figures in the case of Sunday Times and Sun on Sunday.  Circulations were up 6% on average in the week running up to VE day – it was welcome to see news on something other than COVID19.  For the rest of the month at least there will still be some great deals, which will make the CPT lower than pre-lockdown – we have seen many clients getting some of their best ever results and ‘out of season’ spikes thanks to a combination of pricing, engagement and product suitability; in fact for some the biggest issue has been not being able to get enough stock.  For those who have been most impacted by the lockdown in terms of accessing their customers, it could be a good time to take advantage of the prices as we emerge at the end of the month.

TV – still going strong with linear viewing up 21% and VOD viewing up 45%.  The largest increases from 16 – 34 and ABC1 audiences.  72% of viewing is now on the ‘big screen’ taking 10% share from mobiles and the largest increases are from group viewing over individuals.  There is still a large appetite for news with a 45% increase, but also family viewing such as films seeing a 34% rise.  With pricing set to remain low on Channel 4 and ITV (Sky are currently putting their prices back in for June) there has still never been a better time to be on TV.  As recent study by Thinkbox showed their direct sellers web traffic increased by over 300% when they started on TV during lockdown enabling them to sell direct whilst the retailers were closed.

Inserts – third party inserts have struggled to despatch the volumes they forecast as these would have been planned way before any of this happened so there is a bit of catch up in this area, however subs for mags are getting great results and there are many deals to be done as the availability is high due to many advertisers who typically run large insert campaigns pulling out – mainly travel.

Magazines – still a very strong sector with subs high – the real winners being home interest and hobby titles magazines and news/current affairs.  The prices are set to revert for the August issues, out in July, but this will be gradual and there will still be some good deals in these issues I think.  I would expect September to be back on track for them.

Postcard mailing– Now is certainly the time to make contact with your database, whether this is a customer base to cross/upsell to or an enquiry base to start easing into making appointments from existing leads, this will undoubtedly be the most cost effective exercise and it could not be any more flexible or low risk with a printed postcard at 60p, regardless of volume you can dip your toe in and test the water then ramp it up quickly if the results look good.

Mail newspapers carried out some research with their readers and found that 1 in 3 of those surveyed have bought from e commerce sites they have not used before, 50% of those who have not ordered online groceries before have done so for the first time and intent to continue.  They have seen a 56% increase in use of their voucher code site in April and people are saying that they will choose to come out of lockdown very slowly – with mail order purchasing being favoured over high street retail.  Now is the time to make a good impression and reap the benefits of changed consumer behaviour – more virtual meetings, online shopping and less face to face contact.  Top of the list for when lockdown ends though is getting a haircut and having a beauty treatment so that we can emerge back into society without the Zoom filters.

Alice Buttling, MD, 15th May 2020

A few shared thoughts on the future

MD, Alice Buttling and former MD and Attinger Jack founder, David Attinger, discuss the potential impact of the pandemic and what might lie ahead for businesses in the UK after lockdown.

David – Just starting to think what the short term might look like for Business and society in general, once the ‘lockdown’ is over. Will home-working really take off after it’s been forced on the Business community?

Alice -I don’t think so, I don’t see how it gets the best out of your team.  Most people that I have spoken to would rather be working in an office environment once the perceived novelty of working from home wears off.

People work better, harder and are more motivated in an office and within a team. Those who prefer working  from home are likely to be those you need to keep an eye on most to ensure they are working hard.  That said, I do think that for some a day a week at home to focus on getting tasks done where you need to focus uninterrupted has merit – you can get a lot done in a short time with no disturbance or disruption. 

David -The ‘lockdown’ has now been extended to mid May, what do you think will happen at that point ? Presumably some of the restrictions will be lifted but lots will not I’m sure.

Alice – I think it will be gradual and I think that the general public will want that, there will be a lot of concerns about coming out of lockdown but we have the benefit of being behind other countries to see how the impact works.  I think that businesses and schools will be first but that anything that involves large groups will be postponed until the end of the Summer. 

David – President Macron is suggesting the ‘Schengen border’ will be closed until September so travel across Europe will remain restricted until then.     

Alice – It is hard to imagine the costs to the individual countries if they do restrict travel throughout the entire summer period.  This will destroy so many businesses that rely on tourism and the government simply don’t have the funds to replace this. 

David – I think there is a very real danger of social unrest if this situation continues for too long.                                                                                                                                                            Alice – I think that the social issues are huge, the message of stay home and save lives is fine for some, reality of doing this is horrific for many.  Millions of people are being asked to lock themselves into flats with no outside space, this would be tough enough with a nice flat in a pleasant location but add to this kids all at home, sick people around you, no access to support and at times abuse etc and you have a situation that we should just not be asking -never mind telling – people to put themselves in. I think we are paying too high a price and asking too much. 

David – but the biggest damage is to Business in general. Travel, Hospitality, Retail, Holidays, Automotive, Construction, Property, Aerospace, Oil, Sport etc, will be damaged and plenty of small players will not survive.                                                                                                            Alice – We will lose so many businesses, some that were fragile anyway who now have the perfect excuse for their failure, but some who were good solid small businesses who just didn’t have the cash in the business to keep afloat – mainly seasonal businesses who rely on the April to August period to carry them through the rest of the year.

David – But most will, so how will they and their sectors change ?                                       Alice – The ones that survive will be a combination of the big, fat, greedy ones and the really smart ones.  We have seen a real mixture of lay down and die or stand up and fight and we have seen clients willing to try new things, adapt, invest and do all they can to ride the storm, others who have been surprised to actually do really well and have been focussed on maximising this advantage.  I think this could be the final straw for retail, with those who were reluctant to adopt shopping online now being forced to do so I am not sure they will now return to the high street.  Who knows when the travel industry will recover, I think even when restrictions are lifted there will be a lot of fear about travel, there will also be billions of pounds lost in refunds which will finish off many companies and I am sure many consumers will lose out here.  I think there will be a greater divide, those who have retained their jobs, kept working (albeit mainly from home) will feel pretty financially strong, they have retained their income, saved a fortune not leaving the house for 2 months and will have money to spend.  Those who have been furloughed on 80% are probably all square having saved the 20% by staying at home, but there will be a chunk of those furloughed who don’t have a job to go back to, the 3 months are up, the mortgage holiday is over and things are going to look very grim.  So for the markets that service the higher end, I think recovery will be quick and there will be a backlog (this also applies to the 70+ market who when they are released from lock down will probably be the best off as their income has stayed the same but their outgoings dropped) 

Personally I think that we need to come out of lock down as soon as possible and for there to be a better balance of priorities – we need to save as many lives as possible (obviously) but the lives of those vulnerable to Covid 19 are currently being valued far higher than the rest of the world, social welfare, business, the economy – the main reason for this has been the rapid spread and NHS not being able to cope with the sick.  When we start to see the spread being under control then I hope more priority will be put on everybody and everything else – we will have a build up of immunity, more knowledge, more tests, capacity in the new hospitals, ventilators etc – we could then start seeing some of the death statistics in context of other deaths the day – like normal flu, cancer and one that is likely to start increasing…suicide



A message from our MD, Alice Buttling

If only we could freeze time…but we can’t and yet the Government’s assistance to business assumes that we can; that by giving employers the option to furlough their employees they are solving the current problems that businesses face.

Often the employees are keen to be furloughed so that they can stay home and stay safe, even when the employer is providing a safe place to work within all the restrictions that have been set.  The employee is working on the basis that they can get 80% of their pay (or 100% in some cases if the employer tops it up) and they can return to work in a few months when everything goes back to ‘normal’.  Unless, due to having no employees there is no business left. The doors may be closed but work still needs to be done to keep the business functioning: a garden centre with plants that need watering, a shop full of stock that needs to be paid for, a restaurant full of consumables and a landlord that needs paying.  What about the business owner that can’t furlough themselves and relies on the income to support their family? How about the business that survives 12 months of the year based purely on their season sales which carry them through off-season and their season is March to August….what happens to the lost revenue?  Suddenly all those wonderful, individual businesses set up by brave individuals or handed down through families, that are not cash positive enough to ride the storm and don’t have a few months buffer to get them though, disappear.  Then all those who were furloughed and thinking they had a job to go back to, are now redundant after all.

So, I urge everyone to think about where they spend their money right now, as it will make a real difference to what our country looks like when we come out of the other side.  The big companies like Amazon and the supermarkets stand to be the winners so far, but they don’t need our cash.  Shop local, the Co-op were the first to recruit for their stores offering jobs to people who had been made redundant within days of the virus spreading, way before the businesses knew they were protected by the furlough scheme.  Farm shops are working around the clock to provide fresh produce for us.  We don’t need to load up our trolleys (virtual or otherwise) these shops have food on their shelves every day and I guarantee you won’t find people fighting over the loo roll.  There are lots of business that are doing all they can do keep trading – restaurants offering takeaways, pubs delivering draught beer in jugs – please do all you can to support this.  One thing we don’t need right now is free next day delivery (and we won’t get it anyway) be patient, choose wisely and put your pounds in the pockets of the businesses that you really wish to buy from in the future..

And on that note, if you know anybody who has been forced to close their retail doors but they have products that they could sell direct to consumers through advertising then newspapers could be a great opportunity to keep the till ringing.  Demand is very high for anything that brings joy and can be delivered contactless – this could be fresh coffee, garden play equipment, DIY tools, books, flowers and plants, grow your own kits, clothing, jewellery, the list goes on….. We would be happy to help, advice and support any small business to try to sell direct – either on the phone or online, we will help find the best solution for them – things are changing and I have the feeling they will never be quite the same again, but in there is opportunity.



How do businesses stay healthy in times like these?

Survival of the fittest, agile working, flexible hours….how do businesses stay healthy when faced with such tough and uncertain times?  Is it OK to try to capitalise on the current situation?  Yes, it will be essential.

A perfect example is Mail Newspapers, who are offering to deliver the paper for free for 6 weeks.  It will work for them – they are already seeing circulation increases (estimated up 20k this weekend and 10k Mon to Fri) due to high engagement with the content (Corovavirus, Cheltenham & Budget) but they are also offering something that could be highly valued to the generation that are worried about imminent isolation, keeping them connected with their main news source, but also for whom reading a newspaper is a hobby, pastime, habit that if they could no longer access could cause even more upset.  I feel certain that this service will lead to circulation increases over the next few weeks as the story unfolds on what happens next.  Perhaps other newspapers will follow suit, but the Daily Mail will benefit from being the first.

I think we all need to do the same. At AJ we don’t make money if our clients are not spending and our clients’ businesses would grind to a halt pretty quickly if they stopped advertising, so I will be focussed on coming up with ideas for all of our clients to ensure that it makes sense for them to keep spending, working with them to find pockets of opportunities. Being realistic we are talking about riding the storm here (have we not had enough of them already this year?) rather than flourishing, but there will be plenty of time to flourish in times to come.

Alice Buttling, Managing Director,



Make the most of these turbulent times

Our clients are already starting to feel the impact of the effects of Coronavirus: in the last week the number of responses they are getting to their press ads have dropped and we have clients with a lead/appointment/sale model who are seeing up to 30% of their appointments being cancelled.

Again we are faced with uncertainty, in particular with what the Government will do next and how that impacts our lives and of course how far and wide this virus will spread.

Most of our clients don’t have a retail presence and they are far more focussed on generating sales than building a brand, so how do we ensure that their businesses continue to thrive in the current time (given we don’t have any clients selling anti-viral hand gel or loo rolls…)?

Firstly, stay light on your feet.  We book the majority of space short term anyway, so that is easy – there will be less people out and about and buying newspapers, so it is highly likely that the circulations will take a hit in the next few weeks – especially if we go into ‘lock down’.  There will be lots of space available as many clients (travel companies are doing it already) are cancelling space.  People will still be buying newspapers though, so it just means you need to buy cheaper – stick with day to day short term and pick up some bargains

Secondly, up your TV advertising – there will be more people at home watching TV, the available inventory will increase and again there will be travel clients pulling airtime so it will be a buyers market.  Higher TV consumption, lots of boredom = online shopping heaven!   It is like the sweet spot between Christmas and New Year when the working population is off, you can therefore reach them with daytime time TV (far cheaper than peak airtime that you would usually have to buy to reach them) and more responsive as the programming is low engagement.  So if you have a TV ad and you are an online retailer then you could really make the most of a bad situation.


What do you say when everything you say will be closely examined?

No, I’m not talking about what do you say when you meet your in-laws for the first time, I’m afraid that social minefield is left for you to navigate. This article concerns advertising vitamins and supplements.

In the vitamin and supplements market you can’t make any claims on your products without supporting evidence from vigorous clinical trials. So, although the ingredients may be widely known to have a range of benefits you can’t usually say it in press. We must find ways to say something, when you can claim nothing. A useful tool in this exercise is the employment of imagery, such as images of muscles glowing red to indicate pain. Another valuable weapon in the arsenal to combat these constrictions is an editorial, one which talks around the relevant issue or topic rather than the product itself, and then follow this with a claim-free ad.

Finding the most effective ways to get strong results without compromising the ASA rules is not easy, but it is possible – attached is some editorial that we ran in the Mail for our client, Tower Health, which delivered great results. To finish, a word of advice: when meeting the in-laws, I would avoid talking about politics.


To learn about how AJ can improve communication between you and your customers contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or email lesley@aja.co.uk.


In it to win it

Competitions are a great way to boost the volume of your customer database.

Everyone loves to win – perhaps it’s an evolutionary trait hardwired into our animal nature as part of the survival of the fittest concept. The growth of civilization has seen a prize change from first dibs on prey into usually a monetary bounty, yet the attraction of winning is as great for us as it was for our prehistoric ancestors. So how can you use this innate desire to win to further your business?

The introduction of GDPR and the resulting spotlight on email communication saw many clients’ databases take a hit – as did the media owners’ – resulting in a severe decline in the volume available to target by email.

Online competitions are a great way of adding volume to your database, with opted-in data. For a prize value of about £500 you can often get thousands of entries (approx 15% will be opted in) which you can then add to your database.  We have also found that a good runners-up prize, such as a robust discount or offer, can be extremely effective, with a really strong conversion rate. Ultimately, the benefit of offering a competition is that you can create volume of opted-in data in a short space of time that can be garnered and made profitable very quickly.

To learn how AJ can make you feel like you’re winning again, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or email lesley@aja.co.uk