A client of mind proudly showed me one of her advertisements which had been placed in a magazine. This was relevant to me because I had designed that advert for her. Her comments were that the quality of her ad seemed to be much better than the other ads, why did her colours ‘sing out’ more, and what caused the 3D effect?
Very simple, I had converted the images in the artwork into CMYK before I created the pdf and sent it to the magazine editors. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, and these are the colours printers use for their inks. By combining these colours together in a myriad of ways, they can create every colour under the sun.
The other ads looked flat and uninteresting because they were still in RGB, which stands for red, green and blue, the ‘light’ colours used on television screens and, of course, computers. If a publisher has to print a piece of artwork still in RGB, it appears flat is because the printer’s machines have to convert RGB into something more usable, and the colours aren’t compatible with CMYK. You don’t get a sense of ‘depth’, vibrancy and trueness of colour if the pdf is not properly prepared for printing.
Another factor was that the ad was exactly the right size for the space so there was no distortion, and suitable margins were allocated to navigate the eye into the ad, not away from it. I have written before about allowing sufficient white space in artwork, and my client also noticed that as her ad had a white background the content was therefore much easier to read. The ad was not cluttered by trying to fit everything in at once, and as she had booked a series of ads over a number of months, she had maintained the interest of her readers (and hopefully potential customers) with something different in every issue.
Another technique I had used for the copy or words of the ad was AIDA, the marketing method which means ‘attention, interest, desire and action’. Her advert began with a question which marked out her customer’s pain, and the sub-headline stated the solution which her company provided. Bullet points highlighted the benefits she could offer, and a call to action combined with clear, obvious contact details finished everything off nicely.
If you are thinking of placing an advertisement in a magazine or journal, and want it to stand out above the rest, then all you need to do is go ask Alice!