Research shows that seasonal ad spend is still relevant in turbulent times

22 Mar 2018

The past few months have been an interesting time for South Africa and while the signing in of Cyril Ramaphosa as the new president of the country has been touted as the “new dawn of an era”, we’ve been left with no doubt that it will be a long road to recovery for our ailing economy.

As it stands South Africans have had to add notches to tighten already tight belts and with Easter coming up, traditionally a peak time for retail advertising, advertisers facing tighter budgets, and wondering where best to spend them, might be interested to note that during December 2016 – a particularly turbulent time in Britain’s politics (and economy) – retailers that spent significantly on advertising in news brands came out tops in sales.

According to Newsworks, a UK based company that promotes the newspaper industry, 2016, the year that Britain controversially voted in favour of Brexit, “was an extraordinary year [for advertising]. People just didn’t behave in the way they were expected to, or said they would. Surveys were deemed inaccurate, predictions didn’t foresee the main events, experts were confounded.”

So it came as a surprise when at year end a number of top retailers delivered much higher than expected seasonal sales results with supermarket chain Tesco reporting a 0.7% increase in sale and Sainsbury’s returned to sales growth after a downward slump. They weren’t alone, retailers Aldi, Lidl, M&S, the Co-op, Waitrose, John Lewis and Debenhams also enjoyed a sales boost.

Although each, no doubt, had individual strategies and campaigns working in their favour, what they all had in common was that a significant amount of their ad spend was allocated to news brands.

According to Newsworks: “Nielsen estimates show Aldi investing a healthy 28% of their December ad budget in print newspapers, Morrison’s 26% and the Co-op 21%.

Tesco increased spend by 5% compared with December 2015, while Waitrose (+19%) and Lidl (+14%) both invested more heavily in newspapers across November and December than the previous year. It’s also worth noting that a couple of the biggest losers slashed their newspaper spend a bit drastically.”

The reason for their success is simple, people love holidays like Christmas and Easter when they get time off work to celebrate with their families. But with 47% (6.4M)of Ads24 readers claiming that rising food and energy costs keep them up at night, it makes sense that they also need to plan for their holiday spending while keeping to a tight budget.

One of most popular places for consumers to keep an eye out for good value deals is in news brands ads and supplements and their attention to this type of advertising peaks over the holiday seasons. This was proven by Newsworks’ research, which showed that the Tesco ads, using interesting visuals to showcase specials on products like beer, wines, spirits and party food, captured and held people’s attentions for between 3.4 and 4.5 seconds. Their competitor Waitrose opted for simple, striking creative that held people’s attention for between 1.4 seconds (full page) and 5.6 seconds (front cover wrap).

Locally, research show that 90% (12.2M) of Ads24 readers think advertising is a useful source of information about where products can be bought and 63% (1.6M) of Ads24 newspaper readers prefer to receive their insert in a newspaper.


Newsworks also noted that eye-tracking specialists Lumen tested a wide range of print and online newsbrand ads to track what people found the most interesting and spent the most time reading. They found that consumers took longer to read their newspapers, cover to cover including ads, around the holiday seasons.


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Ads24 reaches six in ten South Africans, including print and digital readers. Ads24 touches the lives of over a half of all South Africans adults. While it is important to identify the size and segment the audience, looking at how Ads24 engages with its readers, is equally as important.


Ads24 is part of the Media24 Group representing 97 newspaper titles. From Dailies to Sunday papers to locals, Ads24 reaches almost every target segment in South Africa, no small achievement in such a diverse country. The most exciting element is how these titles become part of the community that Ads24 serves.

A news reader is an engaged reader. Ads24 news brands play an important and unique role in the daily lives of their readers. Ads24 sees beyond the numbers, beyond the market segments, to connect with the people on a personal level. Ads24 has the stats, the numbers, but also the insights.



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