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AudiencexScience 2021: The Benchmark Series

Research commissioned by ThinkNewsBrands, and overseen by Dr Duane Varan, CEO of audience research lab MediaScience, was presented at the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) AudiencexScience 2021 conference held in New York on 21 September 2021.

The ground-breaking study, The Benchmark Series, interrogates the impact of media placement and included:

  • 5350 Australian participants
  • 7 brands across 11 forms of media
  • 42 print runs and 252 websites which together created 6,037 unique brand exposures

At the conference, Dr Duane Varan, was joined by Professor Steve Bellman, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute University of South Australia, and Steve Weaver, Head of Research at Premium Content Alliance, for a deep dive into the research methodology, the findings and implications for marketers when it comes to advertising effectiveness.

Introduction to the research

Steve Weaver, Head of Research, Premium Content Alliance

Presenting the largest cross platform study ever undertaken, the research looks to understand the impact of news brands as an effective advertising platform. With 18+ million readers, news is a fundamental part of the day for Australians. The Benchmark Series demonstrates that news is a lean in medium, providing context for advertising to shine.

Background and methodology

Dr Duane Varan, CEO, MediaScience

Dr Duane provides a background to the massive, first of its kind study and the methodology. The Benchmark Series looked at key measures including memory across three stages (encoding, storage, retrieval), brand lift, attitudinal.

Key findings

Prof. Steve Bellman, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute

Professor Bellman reviews the key findings of The Benchmark Series showing ads placed in news are 2.2x better remembered than run of internet and outlines important implications for marketers such as the effectiveness of news among light category users – the most important growth segment.


Dr Duane Varan, CEO, MediaScience

A clear pattern was seen across all three stages of memory when it comes to news content. Dr Varan explains that the superior effect of news occurs because cognitive resources are activated. As a result, advertisers should embrace the news environment. Ads in news environments benefit from context, particularly for delivering stronger memory impact.

Research Implications:
The Powerful Impact of Placement

Steve Weaver, Head of Research, Premium Content Alliance

In closing, what we’ve learned is context matters. The key takeaway from the research surrounds the halo effect Australian news environments have on impact. News provides a platform with engaged audiences, leaning forward into the content, and high amounts of dwell time. This combined with the halo effect of local publishers, increases the effectiveness of your advertising.

If you’re looking to best utilise the media dollars you spend, advertising in news is the most effective way to put your message in front of more Australians, more often, with greater impact.

How well do you really know news? Download the findings of The Benchmark Series now.

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