Every year, consumers spend more time using digital devices. Every year, more media is consumed digitally. Naturally, advertising spend is increasingly flowing to digital as well. But, don’t pull the plug on that direct mail campaign just yet. New research has again shown that content on paper affects our brains in different and more powerful ways.
In a study conducted for the U.S. Post Office, Temple University consumer neuroscience researchers found significant differences in the way our brains process the two advertising formats. The results gave an emotional win to the printed form:
- Digital ads were processed more quickly.
- Paper ads engaged viewers for more time.
- Subjects reported no preference for either medium.
- Subjects absorbed about the same amount of information from both media.
- A week later, subjects showed greater emotional response and memory for physical media ads.
- Physical ads caused more activity in brain areas associated with value and desire.
The findings of the study have caused some to question whether print’s emotional value will decrease over time. Many would agree, and now we can say with relative scientific certainty, that digital ads don’t yet measure up to the creativity of the golden age of paper. Will ‘new science’ correct the flaw in delivery? Will the tangible nature of print really continue to strike a chord?
Perhaps print and digital will continue to evolve as they have, and are; as complementary channels within an increasingly complex marketing process. Both with their strengths; both with their relative weaknesses; and most importantly, incredibly powerful and engaging when used together in the right way.