Last week I “liked” some photos my cousin posted on Facebook of her new baby (bear with me here, I have a point and it is about newspapers, I promise). As a result, I was duly served up seven baby-related “suggested posts” – from nappies to nurseries – in about as many hours.
This is nothing new.
Over the past year, since turning 26, my newsfeed has become host to advertisements for pregnancy tests, cots, baby clothes, and, even, from time to time, IVF – even though I haven’t been Googling anything along these lines and said cousin is one of just two friends to get hitched and have a baby.
Interestingly, the ads on my boyfriend’s newsfeed haven’t taken this turn, even though many more of his pals are getting married and having kids.
I can only assume that I’m being targeted because I’m a woman over the age of 25 and in a relationship. These ads are my 2015 version of Bridget Jones’s mum: “Tick-tock Bridget, tick-tock.”
Now, I’m not knocking Facebook at all. I use it every day and often the ads are pretty accurate. It also goes without saying that social media and news brands have a symbiotic relationship.
However, this most recent onslaught of misplaced baby ads got me thinking about how good print newspapers can be at reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
Firstly, 35.3 million of us in the United Kingdom read a print newspaper monthly, according to the latest NRS PADD data, and we, of course, choose what we read and when we read it.
For example, those of you that picked up the Daily Mirror’s sports section the morning after England floored Australia in the first round of Ashes test matches will have seen Carlsberg’s masterful execution of timing and placement.
The ad, which was created in less than three hours on Thursday, August 6, appeared in the newspaper the following day beneath jubilant coverage of Stuart Broad’s triumph. It’s positioning that makes sense – capitalising on a topical event and reaching the right audience at the right time.
Not only are contextual ads like this eye-catching, but a study by the Guardian found that print ads are 20% more likely to be seen as relevant to the reader when alongside related content.
Clever use of context also extends to the title an ad runs in. For example, last week Tesco placed an ad for crème brûlée in the Daily Mail the morning after amateur bakers on Great British Bake-Off made said pudding.
The ad’s copy read, ‘”Last night’s crème brûlée. Bake it …” accompanied by a picture of the ingredients, followed on the next page by “… or fake it” with a picture of the ready-made desserts.
The fact that Tesco’s ad referred to something that was broadcast only the night before makes for an interesting ad anyway. But the company also maximised its impact by placing it in the Daily Mail – readers of which over-index for watching the Bake-Off. According to TGI, 1.2 million of them tune in.
Finally, newspapers also provide an overall context of trust and familiarity, which has a beneficial effect on the adverts placed in them.
Newsworks’ study “The company you keep” identified a “context effect” when advertising within news brands (based on brand love, buzz, and consideration), which increases significantly when people read in print as though they are physically interacting with the product.
So – whether in response to a cricketing triumph or a baking showdown – you can’t beat a good ad that’s in the right place at the right time.