Why a Nearly Blank Newspaper Ad is Likely Very Effective

As we discuss in our Managing the Advertising Campaign tutorial, a major concern facing advertisers is the amount of competition that takes place to capture customers? attention.  This is because there are so many advertisers presenting their message in a given communication channel (i.e., television, magazine, Internet) that many ads simply get overlooked.

In marketing terms, this is known as advertising clutter.  To fight against this, marketers tend to use two distinctly different approaches.  The first approach is to rise above the clutter by increasing the frequency of an advertisement.  For instance, run a television ad every day at the same time for 30 or more days.  The idea is that, while people may not actually focus on the ad at first because of all the other ads they are exposed to, if the ad is run frequently eventually viewers will pay attention.

The second approach follows a decidedly different strategy.  With this method, advertisers attempt to reduce the amount of clutter the target market experiences.  That is, advertiser try to reduce the number of exposures presented by other advertisers that may distract the audience from experiencing an ad.  In this Adweek story, we see a clear example of this strategy.  A movie marketer has purchased two full pages of the New York Times and has left nearly all of it blank with the belief that what is left is more likely to grab someone?s attention.  Of course, the advertiser is still paying for the two full pages, so this is certainly an expensive approach.

It is also beneficial to note that the attention to the ad will also increase because the pages seem out of place compared to what readers are conditions to seeing.  While not specifically a strategy to combat clutter, unexpected advertising is another effective method for capturing attention.