A bigger advert doesn’t always pull a bigger response

The size of an advert has a direct effect on response

How do we know? There’s plenty of rock solid empirical evidence. Marketers and academics have been collecting data about ad size versus response for decades, since direct marketing was born. And all the studies come to the same conclusion: smaller adverts are much more effective pro-rata than larger ones.

When you book an advert in a newspaper, magazine or trade paper of any kind bear in mind that when the adverts are identical:

  • A quarter page will out-perform a half page
  • A half page will work dramatically better than a full page
  • A single page will always pull more response than a double page spread

In fact a quarter page ad gets just under half the response of a full page ad. And a double page spread isn’t half as effective – literally – as a single page.

Because research has always been ‘head to head’ using the same copy, it has never taken into account that you can fit more – therefore make a more powerful sell – into a bigger space. Nor does it take into account that bigger ads often come at serious discounts.

But the basic rule holds: there’s no point making a small advert bigger. If you buy a bigger space, you need to make your advert work harder to get a proportionate response.