Triggering Consumers to Act

MPA Pushes New Tool to Measure Engagement

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NEW YORK ( -- The Magazine Publishers of America today described a new method to assess print advertising's effectiveness, calling it a diagnostic tool that will help increase ad recall and action among consumers. The tool, comprising 26 engagement questions, was built partly from studies commissioned by the MPA in which 25,000 readers were surveyed. It was also informed by dry runs with ads for Lincoln and Bayer Aspirin.

Many in the magazine industry at large and at magazines in particular have devoted a lot of time to developing measures for engagement that aid planning and executing ad campaigns. Much of that work, however, has emphasized a particular medium's performance over characteristics of the creative.

How advertising works
"Magazines excel in vehicle engagement overall and particularly in engagement with the advertising within the vehicle," said Ellen Oppenheim, exec VP-CMO at the Magazine Publishers of America. "But we're constantly looking at research to try to understand how advertising works."

"We believe engagement isn't a simple formula and it's not a one-size-fits-all," said Judy Franks, exec VP-director of brand behavior at Energy BBDO, which counts Bayer as a client. "What we loved about what the MPA was setting out to do was they said, 'There are many ways.' They were offering a battery of measures that we could take a look at and, over time, begin to understand what makes work work."

Ms. Franks declined to describe the two Bayer ads that were run through the new tool, citing client confidentiality, but called the process very instructive. The agency team initially considered the ads fairly similar to one another, but turned up significant distinctions by using the tool.

"When we started digging into it, we found these very interesting differences, which helped us to better understand why each ad worked, which was really, really good," she said. "It helped us get at types of emotion. There were certain emotional triggers that were very powerful and certain emotional triggers that we learned were not very powerful."

"Do I feel like after testing two ads that we've cracked the formula for engagement for Bayer? No. But to me it opens up creative possibilities because it says one size doesn't fit all and allows us to explore those possibilities with clients over time."

A kit including the diagnostic tool is available at the magazine association's website.
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