BRAD’S RULE #5 Pay for Position
If an ad doesn’t get attention, it doesn’t get any response. As a result, it’s agreed – certainly by all direct-response copywriters that the most important part of the advertisement is the headline.
David Ogilvy goes as far as to state that 10 times as many people will read the headline as will read the rest of the ad. So if your headline doesn’t sell, you’ve wasted 90% of your money.
However, a great ad in the wrong place can also fail. An ad for women’s lingerie in the sports pages may get a lot of attention. But it won’t get any sales.
A better way is to simply put your ad where the most readers are.
That means pay for position.
The best place in a newspaper to run your ad is probably on page 1, unless it is page 1 of the business section.
Page 3 is second best – so long as you get tile top right of the page.
A right-hand page is always better than a left-hand page (except in traditional-style Chinese newspapers, where a left hand page is better).
And top right of the page is always better than anywhere else on the page.
The back page of a section may be better than an inside page.
It’s probable that the front page of a section is better than any inside page. Direct marketer Gary Halbert recommends running a full-page ad on the first page of the classified section. His approach is based on the theory that people would look at the first page of every section – before throwing it away. (Why full page? “Because of the way a broad-sheet newspaper is folded, people are likely to see only the top-half of the section – before they trash it.)
But, you may ask, “Doesn’t paying more conflict with the title of this report?”
Let me put it this way. If, at the moment, you’re running full (or even half) page ads, I’ll bet you a year’s subscription to Action STEPSthat if you shrink your ad to a size that’s acceptable for page 1 (or, if your newspaper doesn’t take ads on page 1, a two-to-three-column ad top right page 3 or 5) you’ll end up spending less money- and getting more response.
I always pay for position except when I can get position without paying.
With some publications, you can use the following technique to get the position you want, for free. When you make the booking, include the following instruction:
Run top right page 5/right-hand page in front half of book (or whatever position you think you can get) OR OMIT
The proof is in the records…
Record the results and you’ll be convinced.
Over the 18 years I’ve been in Hong Kong, I’ve run ads in just about every section of The South China Morning Post. Now, I’ll only advertise in one place: the first page of the business section.
I’ve run the same ad on page 1, page 2, page 3 and the back page of the business section. The results are decisive. The profit from page 1 beats any other position by a margin of at least two-to-one; sometimes, much more.
Even though that space costs twice as much.
– Brad Sugars –
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