Having chosen to banish myself to the back of Campaign, I
approached the findings of the Quality of Reading Survey with
trepidation. How many times does the average reader read the average
inside back cover of any magazine, let alone Campaign? QRS’s headline
results didn’t throw up that kind of detail, but suggested only 39 per
cent of those surveyed about TV listings titles strongly agreed with the
statement ’you can believe what you read in them’. God, what chance has
It’s easy to mock research but the IPA, ISBA and the PPA deserve credit
for stumping up pounds 500,000 to fund QRS. Clients are fed up with the
ad industry’s continuing ambivalence towards the subject of
effectiveness. If QRS helps assuage those concerns, it will have been
worthwhile. If it prevents disasters like General Motors axing a chunk
of its US press spend because no-one could prove why it shouldn’t, it
will have been money well spent.
But QRS did what we understood it wouldn’t. It set up a magazines versus
newspapers scenario, demonstrating the fall-off in newspaper readers by
section, title by title. Against that, the headline report talked about
magazines by sector, setting up an average consumer magazines score of
2.4 page exposures per reader and 1.2 for newspapers, supplements and
But newspaper ad directors are not blameless. It’s time they were less
obstructive over attempts to discover how sections are read - not to
mention how days of the week differ. If QRS forces this issue up the
agenda, that won’t be a bad thing.
However, newspaper representatives weren’t even invited to the QRS
This means they’ll be sniffy about it and probably commission their own
findings that demonstrate exactly the opposite to QRS - that newspapers
are the place to be. Advertisers will roll their eyes skywards - and who
can blame them?
Of course, there remains another way of achieving stand-out for press
advertisers - create outstanding work of the calibre of the winners at
this week’s 25th Anniversary Campaign Press Awards. Saatchi & Saatchi’s
nursing recruitment ads, like its Army work, force you to read. Other
fresh ads include the drugs awareness campaign from Duckworth Finn Grubb
Waters and Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s Wallis work.
If you haven’t seen some of these ads, that’s not a problem. The entire
industry clings on to the notion of mass. Why does it have to be a bad
thing that not all readers read all sections of papers equally, or have
seen every ad, regardless of targeting? Isn’t that the point of media
fragmentation? The media may have changed but attitudes have not.