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Is An Advertisement Worth The Paper It's Printed On?

By Stephen Hampel, Daniel Heinrich, Colin Campbell

Consumer Attitudes

"These findings point to premium print being a possibly valuable method for organizations to communicate brand and product attributes more fully with consumers.”

Source: Is An Advertisement Worth the Paper it's Printed On? The impact of premium print advertising on consumer perceptions; Hampel S, Heinrich D, Campbell C,; Journal of Advertising Research, Mar 2012, Volume: 52 Issue: 1 pp.118-127.

Activity Tested:

Although more companies are using premium-print technologies in their advertising, empirical research has yet to examine the effectiveness of such executions. This field experiment investigates the effect of premium-print advertising's impact on consumer perceptions and intentions.


To test the effectiveness of premium-print advertisements, two ads -- one for a household appliance and the other for a luxury watch -- were used. The two premium-print advertisements were produced on high-quality paper and a highly glossy print design. For control conditions, each advertisement was also printed in a conventional version.
The experiment was conducted offline using a sample of 357 participants drawn from the general population (average age 36 [standard deviation = 13.1], gender distribution approximately equal). Participants were not compensated and were kept blind to the study’s objective.

Participants were randomly allocated to one of the groups and exposed to the group specific stimulus.

Advertisements were printed and inserted within magazines so as to appear legitimate.

Participants were handed a magazine open to the relevant ad, prompted to examine the advertisement for a moment, and then asked to fill in a questionnaire containing items measuring relevant constructs. All constructs were measured using seven-point Likert scales ranging from “strongly disagree (1)” to “strongly agree (7)”;

Top-Line Results:

Results indicated significant differences between the experimental (premium-print ads ) and control (conventional print ads) groups in both the ad for luxury watches and household appliances. Study participants had a more positive evaluation of ads produced with premium print technologies, as compared to conventionally designed print ads.

Participants’ attitudes towards the ads and brands were also positively influenced by the use of high-quality paper and a highly glossy print design.

Advertisements and brands, appearing on premium print, were perceived as more prestigious.
The authors acknowledge the survey results were merely ratings and, as such, cannot reflect actual behavior. With this said, participants exposed to premium-print ads, as compared to the tradtional print ads, did rate significantly higher in willingness to buy, likelihood to engage in word of mouth, and willingness to pay a price premium.

“Although limited to the brands used in this experiment, these findings point to premium print being a possibly valuable method for organizations to communicate brand and product attributes more fully with consumers.”
“As more sophisticated premium print advertisements demand a more cost-intensive printing procedure, such additional costs need to reap dividends. The demonstrated positive influence of premium print advertisements on key outcome measures suggests that such investment may prove worthwhile as consumers use their impressions of advertising cost as a cue to evaluate the advertised brand and, possibly, form resulting behavior.”

"Print, as an advertising medium, is not gone, but continues to evolve.”

Complexity rating of original source: 2  (Complex statistical analysis scale:  1= easy, 2= moderate, 3 = difficult)

Reprints of this article are available for purchase from Emerald Group Publishing