EDITOR’S COMMENT: QRS should enable agencies to prove ads’ effectiveness

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 Campaign got?

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

Campaign got?



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

sections.



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

unveiling.



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.



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