What Makes An Effective Print Ad? (Part 1)

By Senior Living

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Up your marketing game!  A thoughtfully designed ad can reap welcome benefits. Here's tips from some experts - about 2,000 seniors! They were given 650 print ads to evaluate and here's the results.

Use Illustrations: As the number of illustrations increase, so does readership.

  • When possible, opt for photographs over line art.
  • 4-9 illustrations boost recall by 30% compared to ads with no illustrations.
  • In ads where ¾ of the space is devoted to illustrations, recall rates improved by 50%.

Show The Product:

  • Showing the product attracts readers 13% more then not showing the product.
  • Multi-product visuals in ads were 25% more likely to attract readers and increase in-depth reading.

When Possible, Show Pricing:

  • Sale prices drew readers' attention 20% more often and increased in-depth reading.


  • Using full color in an ad increases its recall by 20% over black & white.
  • Full color increases in-depth reading of an ad by over 60%.

Positioning isn't as important as once believed. No significant differences in reading exist for:

  • Position on a page or within a section.
  • Presence or absence of complimentary editorial.
  • Number of ads on a page.


  • Full page ads are recalled and read in-depth 40% more often than a quarter page ad.
  • Even small ads get noticed. Six inch ads are recalled 59% as often as a full-page ad.

Other Findings

  • Reverse print does not positively impact recall. However, if done poorly, it can decrease an ad's readership.
  • Certain colors are particularly powerful attention getters. (For example, yellow and purple appeal to women).
  • Special sales offers, sweepstakes and grand opening announcements can also positively affect recall rates.

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