Holiday advertising that works for retailers


The Newspaper Marketing Association (UK) undertook research on Retailers’ Christmas Advertising.

Below is a brief overview of findings and a PowerPoint that provides the data points (and the research methodology) has also been created to illuminate the points below.

Click here for PowerPoint slides

A) The impact of newspapers, their sites and inserts during the pre-Christmas season:

Four elements (newspaper editorial, newspaper advertising, online ads and inserts that come with newspapers) were evaluated on their ability to deliver across 5 different pre-Christmas shopping criteria.

Newspaper ads – Effectively delivered offers and how/where to purchase

Online – Scored strong (vs. the other 3) on delivering the positive glow (i.e. makes feel shopping would be enjoyable and makes me feel more positive about the retailer)

Inserts – Scored strong (vs. other 3) on providing inspiration & offers

B) Newspaper ads


Bigger ads delivered stronger response

The biggest ads prompted the most action – in  particular they were much more effective at driving visits to the retailer’s website for more information

Big ads inspire (i.e. scoring higher on involving, distinctive, interesting) and they are deemed to be less boring, dull or weak


Two ads were tested – the colour version against the exact same ad in black & white – in the same place within the paper. The objective was to understand the impact of colour.

Colour ads communicate and deliver a stronger consumer response – interestingly particularly on branding, offers a range of Xmas products and enough info (which haven’t changed but clearly pop due to colour)

On all the action statements, colour ads scored much higher

The colour ad scored higher in positive attributes (e.g. distinctive and pleasant) and much lower (which is good) on the negative attributes.


C) Online ads


Many DVD/books/CDs are purchased online. Almost two thirds indicate they go online for toys and gifts.


Brands that ran ads on newspapers sites and in newspapers were compiled and compared.

Both media scored similarly but online ads were more likely to generate online activity (likely because they were already online).

The print ads scored well on interesting, involving and distinctive.

The online ads were perceived as more passive (scoring higher on gentle and pleasant).


D) Other conclusions

In many cases, newspapers and their sites are provided with the advertising creative so they are unable to influence it. In some cases, the newspaper creates ads with input from the advertiser. The report provides some hints to advertisers, based on the research, as to what works:

Print ads featuring a number of items can grab attention – in particular making the ad more involving and distinctive

Ease of understanding the ad drives response – for example making the ad specific (e.g. you get twice as much for your money vs. its costs less at our store)

Clutter confuses where a well laid out ad scores higher on every measure

Tell them something new

A strong visual and brandi