It's here in black and white - print adverts do work

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The Independent Online

What is the best way to advertise an anti-wrinkle cream? Sponsoring a Channel 4 makeover show with the name Ten Years Younger seemed like a surefire winner to RoC, the makers of Retin-Ox Correxion. It worked, too - but when the company backed up this campaign with advertisements in national newspapers the results were startling. More of the upmarket female audience heard about the cream, more people said they believed that it could work and - crucially - brand commitment doubled.

The success of the RoC campaign is one of several cited by the Newspaper Marketing Agency (NMA) after more than a year spent studying 13 brands and what happened to them when they advertised in print. They included cars, house cleaners, health products, pet and human food, as well as cosmetics. The headline finding was that using newspapers alongside television campaigns could significantly boost their effectiveness. Müller, for example, reported a nine-fold increase in brand commitment for its Lead a Müller Life campaign once the print ads were published.

"There s a lot more trust in newspapers than people think," says Vanessa Doyle, press manager at Initiative, the media agency, "and that trustworthiness gave the RoC campaign even more credibility."

That will give the industry cheer at a time when it is badly needed. Ad spend in national newspapers fell by 3 per cent last year, while advertising on television rose by more than 3 per cent and the internet saw a massive 73 per cent increase. Newspapers are dead, say the new media enthusiasts who argue that ads on the internet, mobiles and digital channels can reach specific target audiences more effectively and allow customers to interact.

The NMA was set up three years ago, funded by national newspapers, including this one, but operating as an independent, impartial body. The research, which cost a reported £14m, was aimed at proving the effectiveness of print advertising in the changing market.

Dominic Good, advertising sales director of the Financial Times, says money isn't necessarily migrating from newspapers to the internet. "Internet advertising is growing fantastically," he says, "but when you look behind the figures, a quarter of internet spend is in traditional display advertising, around a quarter is classified or recruitment advertising and just over half is in search: people paying for keywords and clicks." That means directories and direct mail rather than newspapers are the most obvious losers in the rise of the internet as a more established advertising medium.

The NMA findings show the value of trust, says Mr Good. "People buy a newspaper for all sorts of brand values which you don't have with TV, which is more passive ... Campaigns in newspapers also build quickly and cost-effectively compared to broadcast media where you get a lot of wastage."

Some of those arguments could be made for the new niche TV channels created almost daily. But, for now, more than half the money spent on advertising in the UK pays for ads in print.

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