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Magazine ads in tablet editions are exactly as efficient as in print editions

by Patrick Pierra

July 12 2014

A recent survey by media research firm GfK leads to a surprising conclusion: There is no difference in recall rates between magazine ads, whether they are seen on tablets or in print.

GfK Starch has been measuring the recall rates of ads in magazines -how many people remember having seen an ad- for a long time.

In 2013, it surveyed tablet readers of 44 magazines.

Their average recall rate of magazine ads in tablets was 52%. And what’s the average recall rate of ads in print magazines? 52%.

The best performing ads (called “noted” ads by GfK) usually got a much better recall rate, at 80%. Again, the percentage was the same in both print and tablet editions.

On the one hand, this could be reassuring for publishers. Moving from print to tablets, they hold on the relatively strong performance of their ads, which typically command a high price. This is no small feat, as the digital advertising world is way more competitive than print.

But on the other hand, it could disappointing to learn that the interactive enhancements (interactivity, video, etc.) which benefit some tablet magazine ads --and make them more costly than print ads-- do not lift their effectiveness. (GfK studied over 28,000 ads over a year. It’s probable than only a small minority of them were truly interactive ads while the majority were static, print-like ads).

There is good news, though, in the the demographic profile of tablet magazine readers.

GfK notes that 52% of them were in the 18 to 34 year bracket --so, significantly younger than the average print magazine readers.

And nearly half of them (48%) had a household income of $75,000 or more.

This points to a rather high median income for young tablet magazine readers. It probably reflects the fact that, on tablets, most magazines are only accessible through paid subscriptions --while most print magazine readers, even the paid-for ones, are second-hand readers who don’t pay themselves for the print product.

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