Relevant and appealing or intrusive and unnerving?

We already know the power of loyalty cards in allowing retailers to target offers to our individual product preferences.  The same is happening in TV.

We now have the flexibility to watch whatever we want when we want across several formats; we aren’t tied into the same schedule as everyone else.  National Grid doesn’t have to cope with the spikes in power usage seen previously in nationally-significant televised events.  No longer are millions of kettles put on or fridge doors opened simultaneously during ad breaks.   A cliff-hanger episode of EastEnders in 2001 finished with a 2290MW power spike; today spikes rarely top 200MW as our viewing habits become more and more disparate.

Aligned to this substantial viewing variety, so-called addressable TV advertising allows ads to be carefully targeted; advertisers paying for audience segments and impressions rather than content.  In effect, it’s direct mail in a TV format.  It’s not new in Britain but is gaining momentum and the UK is believed to be at the forefront of the sector’s development.  Addressable TV allows neighbours to watch the same ad at different times or to see different ads even if they’re watching the same programme.  It offers ads appropriate to a consumer’s individual circumstances, aiming to be more appealing and engaging.  And it seems they are.  Sky has seen a marked reduction in channel-switching during ad breaks when ads are relevant.

For advertisers, the benefit of this targeted approach is the ability to create a personalised strategy giving greater flexibility with creative, deeper insight and less wastage.  It’s particularly attractive to smaller, regional or more specialist companies with less budget available than mainstream TV advertising demands.  Although cost per impression is undoubtedly higher, many advertisers believe it’s a price worth paying to gain precision and save on wastage.  But it’s not for everyone.  Bigger brands often prefer to keep talking to as wide an audience as possible.  As a result, the breadth of TV advertisers is increasing; two thirds of Sky’s advertisers are either new to TV or new to Sky.

A valid concern for advertisers, though, is around measurement and attribution; critical to get right but harder to achieve with audiences watching TV in a myriad of ways.  There is also little consistency between platforms; each broadcaster using their own approach.

According to the US Video Advertising Bureau, addressable TV is bigger than LinkedIn, Instagram and Wikipedia.  Sky is the market leader in the UK with AdSmart.  Having struck a deal with Channel 5 earlier in the year, the company has just announced an agreement with Virgin Media, expanding the reach of its platform considerably.  Channel 4 is also active in this area, with ITV due to launch in the next couple of months; their aim to attract online advertisers.  Those broadcasters without a set-top box have to use a different mechanism to target audiences based on census-type data.

At AJ, we’re keen to try addressable TV with a new client offering a premium product.  Having used direct mail previously, due to its targeted nature, addressable TV is the obvious choice as a new and suitable alternative to attract high-end customers.

To find out more about how addressable TV could work for you, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or

Sunday Times advertorials join the party

Following in the footsteps of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times is joining the growing number of newspapers producing their own advertorials section mirroring those compiled by Alison Cork.


As we’ve reported previously in New interiors feature for Telegraph’s Saturday, Alison Cork writes advertorial-style pages for several papers including the Telegraph, Times, Evening Standard, Mail, Mirror and the Sun.

One by one, newspapers are beginning to run their own version of these pages; this weekend the Sunday Times becomes the latest.  A major disadvantage of the Alison Cork pages is the size and position ‘lottery’ of being hero or almost zero without any control.  Like the Telegraph, the Sunday Times is running a more equitable system of all advertisers receiving the same space.  This makes our life as planners much easier with more predictability and consistency.  Our clients have enjoyed fantastic results from the Telegraph’s new Interiors section so we’re excited about what this new Sunday Times opportunity can offer.

If you’re keen to see what these advertorial-style pages can do for your business, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or

Certainty amongst the uncertainty

Last night’s election results might have plunged us into more uncertainty, but one thing is definite, more of us are reading newspapers this week. So, what does this mean for advertisers?

Print volumes are expected to increase by 10% for the next five days – maybe longer given the inconclusive result.  There will be more readers and more engaged readers, so we’ve been encouraging our clients to make the most of this uplift.  With plenty of news to report and debate over recent months, the quality newspapers and weekly news magazines have enjoyed stable, and in some cases increasing, circulations; a fact reflected in our clients’ results.

I is for Inserts

For the first time, the i is taking loose inserts.  This is a great opportunity for AJ clients and one we’ve grabbed with both hands.  Here’s why.

The i is a top-performing title for AJ clients.  Its profile of ABC1, with 74% in the 45+ age group, is perfect for the majority of our DR customers.  And its new insert offering has key benefits we have been quick to exploit.

The i has a total print run of 360,000, broken down into four regions.  For a designer and manufacturer of water softeners, such as Kinetico, the ability to advertise regionally is an attractive option as it protects against wastage.  We ran their new insert in the South only where water softeners are an increasingly necessary household item.

The inserts are solus and mid-week only.  This gives clients great standout and weekday exposure in contrast to many other titles only taking multiple inserts at the weekend.

Early signs look encouraging for Kinetico from the insert we ran on Monday, with Aquability testing it next week in addition to their existing advertising channels.  With AJ accounting for 25% of those who have tried this alternative method of lead generation in the last couple of weeks, we are confident it has much to offer our clients.

To learn more about how AJ uses inserts successfully, see Look and feel: why inserts work

New Interiors feature for Telegraph’s Saturday

Just two months old, and Telegraph’s Saturday has a new Interiors feature starting this week.  AJ’s Alice Buttling tells us what she thinks.

Alison Cork has a built a strong platform writing advertorial style pages under the guise of ‘hunting’ for great home/garden offers for the consumer.  In reality, of course, advertisers are just paying to be included.  These features have appeared regularly in the Telegraph, Times, Evening Standard as well as, but less so, in the Mail, Mirror and the Sun.

Not long ago, the Daily Mail decided to replace the Alison Cork section with their own version, called ‘Home and Away’.  In addition to home and garden offers, it also includes travel, and has proved extremely successful, now running a full page each week.

Next to follow suit is the Telegraph.  Unlike the Mail, it will continue to carry the Alison Cork pages, but is launching its own ‘Interiors’ page this weekend in the relatively new ‘Saturday’ section.  What I love about it is you get what you pay for; large, medium or small image and text, you pay accordingly.  This is not the case with Alison Cork – it’s pot luck.  In one issue, you might secure the large hero image, but next issue find yourself with a tiny image in the gutter – both costing the same price, with no control.  This has become a real bugbear for our clients who despise unpredictability – particularly when they end up in the gutter the size of a postage stamp!

At this stage, the Telegraph doesn’t have a ‘face’ for their feature.  In contrast, the Daily Mail has chosen its features writer, Harriet Arkell, to source their offers.  Whether or not a ‘face’ is necessary remains to be seen.  I personally think the new Interiors section looks great; AJ has booked three of the nine advertising sites, including the big hero shot for our client Eden Verandas.  I’ll keep you updated on how well it works…………

Titles on the Up

Many titles appear to be accepting an ongoing circulation decline, so it’s great to see others bucking the trend.  How are they doing it?  Are they simply printing more copies, like the Evening Standard?  It appears not.

Common themes are price and producing concise news.

The Daily Star reduced its cover price and in doing so proved cost was an issue for some of its readers.  Not only has the paper managed to halt the decline in its circulation figures but has taken share from The Sun, to achieve a 14% year-on-year increase, now nudging a 500,000 circulation.  At AJ, we don’t use this title very often as it’s not a great fit with most of our clients’ target audiences, but love what they’ve achieved.

The I is another title proving price matters.  With a circulation pushing 300,000, it has overtaken the Guardian and Observer, and is closing in on the Sunday Telegraph.   It’s amazing to see a newspaper can launch in the current day and reach this level of circulation.   We love this title and it achieves great results for our clients’ products; from reading lights to coffee pods, oak extensions to cashmere sweaters.

The Times has also increased its year-on-year figures by nearly 10%.  No price change, just a quality product and, over the last 12 months, more engagement with news and politics.  Without an increase in rates, The Times has become a very strong title for us – a top 3 performer for many of our clients.

A couple of other titles showing year-on-year circulation increases are the Week at 206,000 and Private Eye at a record 250,000, thanks largely to Brexit.  Both these titles work really well for us.

The days of buying newspapers and magazines are certainly not dead.  To succeed or remain successful, titles must adapt to the current times and needs of the population; in some cases, cash rich/time poor, with others just cash poor.   We would encourage national newspapers to test price points and content more often, much as we do for our clients when trying to find the winning formula and maximise returns.  We don’t always succeed first time, but we keep testing and do whatever we can to turn results around rather than accepting a decline.

Weekend changes at the Telegraph – what’s the verdict?

Four weeks on from the launch of the new Telegraph sections, what have we found? Alice Buttling-Smith gives us an update.

A bit of a mixed bag to be honest. No drastic differences but, overall, it’s looking positive. Relaunches often mean price hikes for clients, but this hasn’t been the case.  Short-term availability has remained pretty much the same.

The creation of several premium sites is the primary benefit of the new format. We believe good positioning is key to strong results.  Of particular note has been the page 2 solus 25 x 4 in Sunday, which has worked really well for our clients.  This is also true for the 25 x 8 under the games and puzzles at the back of the section.

We have booked a number of clients into these sections, and based on what we’ve seen so far, we’ll be continuing to do so.


Weekend changes at the Telegraph

Did you notice anything different about the Telegraph newspapers last weekend?  The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph both relaunched their weekend offerings. Saturday’s previously-named Weekend is now called Saturday, with Sunday’s Living section becoming, wait for it……Sunday.   Saturday now includes the sections on gardening and cars, alongside its other lifestyle segments.  Sunday has changed to a broadsheet format enabling amplified coverage of gardening and property.  But are these changes good or bad?  Alice Buttling-Smith reviews the implications for clients.

Saturday’s changes are good.  For gardening clients, the relevant content is retained but with an almost certainly higher readership being among other lifestyle segments than when it was a stand-alone section.   This is particularly true out of season when gardening alone might become less popular.  For advertisers in Weekend, again the change is good.  Gardening is popular so its inclusion should boost the section overall; it’s a good fit with the other lifestyle content.

I’m not so sure about incorporating Cars into Saturday though – to me this doesn’t work so well.  Cars, traditionally, has a male audience, which seems to go against the food, health, lifestyle feel of the other Saturday segments.  Cars advertising, outside of the brand ads, tends to be a bit crude, e.g. Machine Mart, BiGDUG, WOLF Garten.  I think Cars would fit better with Property.

Sunday’s content remains very similar to Living, but with an increased focus on the strong features of gardening and property.  The big change is format – and something I welcome.  25 x 4 ads under editorial have good stand out and this new format allows plenty of opportunities for them.  There is also a new ad site on the puzzles spread; in Living, this was just a DPS with no ads. The new site is great, attracting a long dwell time and a perfect fit for many of our clients.  We were quick to secure it for reading light specialist, Serious Readers, in the very first issue.

Overall the changes are good but it’s really about the numbers.  We wait with anticipation to see how Saturday and Sunday perform over the next few weeks.  AJ placed 10 ads in the launch weekend sections, capturing some of the best sites.  We’ll keep you posted on how they perform.