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Will Your Newspaper Ad Pass The 3-Second Test?

Mar 22, 2008
You need to understand why and how people read newspapers in order to create effective newspaper ads.

WHY is simple: to get the news-especially news about their local community. Many people enjoy the portability that newspapers offer. Others simply do not care to read from a computer screen regardless of their increasingly mobile and varied lifestyles.

HOW people read newspapers is a bit more complex. There is far more content in a newspaper than most readers have time to read so they SCAN the pages for headlines and pictures that appeal to their own self interest.

When you understand this fact, you have a shot at creating an ad that actually may reach your target audience.

When people say they saw your ad, it means little unless those same people were in the market for what you sell. Those are the only people that really matter when it comes to judging the effectiveness of your ad, assuming you are trying to sell either goods or services.

Most small businesses cannot afford to run image only ads. Case in point: mega-corporations spend millions of dollars on clever TV ads that air during the Super Bowl. Most viewers can recall the clever lines and graphics but darn few can actually tell you who the advertiser was or what exactly they were attempting to sell.

But millions SAW the ads!

Consider: you have approximately 3 SECONDS to engage a reader when they turn to the page containing your advertisement.

It is the job of your headline and dominant graphic to interrupt the scanning patterns of the reader. IF your headline and dominant graphic appeal to their SELF interest, you may get your copy read.

Visually strong yet simplified information is what gets noticed.

Newspaper readers in the U.S. enter an ad from the top left simply because we read from left to right. The reader scans from top to bottom and will normally go to an eye-catching visual, especially if the visual is near the top of the ad. Readers read down from where they start on the ad and their eyes will rarely move up again once they have read down.

It is a good idea to diagram your initial ad layout with red arrows to show where the eye should go first, second and so on. Does your ad layout have the eye tracking the ad elements the way you intended? If not, make whatever changes are necessary.
About the Author
Bob Schumacher books and articles give entrepreneurs a clear coffee-shop English perspective on how to steer their business or profession into the top 20% who achieve 80% of the business and profits. Visit http://www.20do80.com for a complete directory of his articles and books.
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