January 24, 2011 /

New research study: advertising engagement in digital magazines

I’ve written a lot on this blog about the new opportunities digital magazines offer – especially for the editorial side of a publishing house.  Today, it’s advertising’s turn to take the stage.  We’re releasing results of a research study that finds interactive advertising in digital magazines can more effectively engage readers and create stronger purchase intention than similar static ads in print.  The result is a new brand advertising paradigm where advertisers can engage consumers with a brand in the immersive context of a digital magazine – in contrast to the interruptive, templatized, and commoditized nature of current digital display ad inventory.

Titled “Digital Ad Engagement: Perceived Interactivity as a Driver of Advertising Effectiveness,” (PDF – 260KB) and conducted by Alex Wang, Ph.D. (Univ. of Connecticut) the study exposed participants ages 18 to 32 to print or iPad versions of advertisements featured in a past issue of a digital magazine. It then surveyed them to measure perceived interactivity, perceived engagement, message involvement, attitude towards the ads, and purchase intent, and compared the results.  Overall, the research discovered that readers are more likely to engage with interactive than static ads, as well as have a more favorable attitude to the ad and greater purchase intent. See a summary of the results below; participants responded using a scale from 1-9 and considered both all ads in the magazine, as well as a specific ad presented to them.

The study also found clear statistical connections among the five measured categories in the experiment.  By using interactivity such as motion graphics, sound, slideshows and animation, advertisers can engage readers and create favorable attitudes towards their brands. Once engaged, readers are then more likely to interact with the ad, resulting in a higher probability that they will purchase the product or service being promoted.

As I mentioned earlier, this immersive advertising experience represents a new paradigm for brand advertisers.  Because users are immersed in the digital magazine experience, they view the ad much in the same manner they would if they were flipping through the print pages of a magazine; the ad essentially becomes part of the content itself.  Contrast this with current digital advertising inventory—undifferentiated ad space that increasingly interrupts the reading experience (sound like page takeover ads?).

In addition to our findings in the lab on digital magazine ad engagement, publishers and advertisers are seeing real-world results.  View a short video below on major brand advertisers in Martha Stewart Living – including Tiffany & Co., Macy’s, FedEx, Nestle and more – experienced an increase in brand awareness by using interactive ads in the digital edition.

So, what does all this mean for advertisers and publishers?  First, tablet devices enable an enhanced brand advertising experience in digital magazines because they immerse the reader in a highly designed advertising/editorial context and then extend that with engaging interactive features.  This, in turn, drives consumer engagement and purchase intent (evidenced by the study and by real-world results), as well as enables publishers to monetize this ad inventory at premium CPMs, and not the lower CPMs available for current digital inventory. Finally, publishers using Digital Publishing Suite have access to analytics as part of the solution’s integration with Adobe Online Marketing Suite (Omniture).  This delivers actionable insight into how readers engage with editorial and advertising content — including time spent with specific interactive features – that helps publishers and advertisers tailor content for maximum results.

For more information



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  • […] and create stronger purchase intention” than comparable ads offered in print.Writing on the Adobe Digital Publishing blog, author Dave Dickson noted that the research yielded a paper entitled “Digital Ad Engagement: […]

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