Done in 60 seconds: Print reviews and why they don’t make sense

How long do people look at print ads for? Well, there are a lot of different numbers out there but after a bit of digging I’d say the generous end of the spectrum is approximately 3 seconds. Now that’s not a surprising number really, when you think about how long a glance lasts and how few fucks your average person gives about most ads.

What is surprising though, or more specifically infuriating, is that if you are in a review discussing a print ad for just 3 minutes, you have already looked at that ad for 60 times longer than your average person. At half an hour, it’s 600 times longer. Doesn’t that seem a little out of whack to you?

Now I’m all for craft and rigour (that’s a double on Cunty Ad Words Bingo for those of you who are playing along at home) but how can what we discuss in these meetings be in any way relevant to how normal people see this work?

I mean no reviewer goes to a screening of a movie 600 times just to say if they think people will like it?

The kind of insights garnered (BINGO!) by someone looking at something for a small amount of time and those garnered by someone looking at something for a large amount of time, could not be any more different.

It’s the difference between being Christopher Nolan and a Media Studies grad. An expert and a novice. An overly invested marketer and a totally indifferent consumer. Quite simply, the longer we spend experiencing something (in this case an ad) the further away we get from the experience and therefore the perspective, of normal consumers.

Or, the harder we look at this stuff, the less we actually see.

Now in classic internet commentary fashion, i’m not entirely sure how you fix this. Maybe we make print reviews crazy short? Maybe we hold all reviews by hurriedly rushing back and forwards past a wall covered in scamps? Or maybe we just trust the artists, designers and writers who’ve already picked over every inch of the ad and put it out already? … It’s not like anyone’s really looking anyway.

Like what you read? Give John Wilds a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.