Report from the Media Frontier

Welcome to Report from the Media Frontier, my ongoing blog that provides guidance and insight on the "changing world of media" to advertising agencies, media buying agencies, the media selling community and brand marketers
New, Free or Save - Which is the More Motivating Word?


 I generally focus on media and emerging technology in this blog, but I recently ran across some interesting research from GFK MRI in their December 2010 Cover-to-Cover newsletter that I wanted to share.


GFK MRI posed the question, “Which words found in print ads where the most motivating: New, Free, or Save?” To determine the answer, they used historical Starch date from 85,390 ads appearing in consumer magazines between October 2008 and June 2010 to determine what lift in readership, if any, ads with these words had. The result may be surprising:


  • Ads which included the word “New” had an average 8% lift in readership when compared to ads without “New”.
  • Ads that included the word “Free” or “Save” did not enjoy a lift in readership overall.



The article went on to caveat that ads for different product categories behaved better or worse than the average. Hair styling, nail makeup and financial services advertisements, for instance, seem to benefit the most from using the word “New.” These categories enjoyed an average 28%, 17% and 15% readership lift, respectively. Incidentally, the category least helped by the word “New” – prescription medications.


Of course these finding are slanted to just magazine readership and it very well could be different for online users, radio listeners, TV viewers and direct mail readers, but I would venture to guess the results might not be so different.


Consumers that show heightened interest in advertising generally have a greater engagement and connection with the ad. This may or may not subsequently play out in increased sales for the advertised product, but it often does.


Words such as “free” or “save” don’t build a connection with the brand, although they might motivate a one-time purchase of the product. A word like “new” creates a dialog and tells a story of the product – why is it new, is it better, what changed, will I like it as much as the older version? This conversation is what improves the recall and readership scores, and ultimately should improve sales in the long run.

1 comment | Add a New Comment
1. gurutogo | December 08, 2010 at 06:12 PM EST

Interesting information to pass along.

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