You want your advertising to be easy for the shopper to understand. So you don't crowd the text, allowing the reader to appreciate each message. You boost involvement by having a picture or two in the ad. You clearly tell the shopper what you'd like them to do after they finish reading the ad—purchase from you—and how to do what you'd like them to do—for instance, giving them your phone number and street address and/or website address.
But let's say the newspaper in which you are placing your ad repeatedly puts it next to articles which are tough to digest. For instance, because the subscriber base for the newspaper has shrunk, the paper has shifted to a smaller typeface font to save pages. Or some of the staff writers pump out paragraphs which lack real pizzazz.
Researchers at University of Illinois, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University found that this situation could be trouble for you. When a newspaper article is tough to read, the ad next to that article is likely to be much less effective than when the article is easier to read.
But wait! The research findings get a little trickier: The carryover from article to advertisement happens when the content of the ad is related to the article. You sell watches, so you asked that your ad be placed next to a feature article about classic timepieces. In contrast, if the theme of the article has absolutely nothing to do with the theme of your adjoining advertisement, a tough-to-digest article will actually increase attention to your ad.
Since lots of other research shows advantages to having ads next to editorial with similar themes, the lesson is to do what you can to have your ads placed by easy-to-read articles.