In most cases, a single exposure to an ad has very limited value. It takes a campaign of advertisements to effect shoppers, although truthfully this will vary slightly by medium.

For instance, a supermarket that buys two adjacent full page newspaper ads every Thursday to list all of the specially priced items that week, will in short time train Transactional shoppers to pick up every Thursday’s paper to scan the ad for bargains.

Large automobile dealers will also have some success attracting Transactional shoppers using this strategy. Unfortunately, as soon as their competitors start doing the same thing, the effectiveness of the ads becomes dependant not upon the size of ad, but upon the size of the loss leaders.

And this “list everything” strategy is virtually useless in attracting new Relational shoppers to your business.

So does that mean newspaper advertising is only valuable when the advertiser’s goal is Transactional (loss leader) business?

No. Not at all. It merely means that you need to take steps to increase the frequency of your ads. Why? Because sleep is the great eraser of short-term memory, which makes it the single biggest obsticle to advertising retention.

As we pointed out in How Many Ads Do I Need To Buy?, the evidence indicates that a minimum of three exposures to the ad in a seven day period is the minimum required to produce a positive return on investment.

Does this mean three ads a week will push your results into black ink?

Unfortunately, no.

Suppose your local daily newspaper has 20,000 readers per average day. That means 20,000 readers will scan the Monday paper. 20,000 will also scan the Tuesday paper. Not all of them will be the same 20,000 persons.

Perhaps 3,000 of Monday’s readers didn’t see the paper on Tuesday, but another 3,000 people who didn’t read Monday’s paper will pick up the paper on Tuesday. That means 17,000 people saw both papers.

If yet another 3,000 people didn’t pick up the paper Monday or Tuesday, but read Wednesday’s paper, it means 14,000 saw all three.

In actuality, the frequency build up in most papers is a bit quicker. In most newspapers across the U.S. it will take four ads within a single five day period for all of the average daily readers to be exposed an average of three times each.

Q: So, what’s the most effective way to purchase newspaper advertising?

A: Cut your ad size to one fourth and run it four times as often.

Next time we’ll discuss determining the optimum ad size to make this strategy deliver the best return on your newspaper advertising investment.