Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper

By Roger Dooley of NueroMarketing

Every year, consumers spend more time using digital devices. Every year, more media is consumed digitally. Naturally, advertising dollars are 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.

The latest findings come from Temple University consumer neuroscience researchers. In a study conducted for the U.S. Post Office, they found significant differences in the way our brains process the two ad formats.

Test Methods

Methodology for evaluating impact of ads

The scientists had subjects view ads via either digital or physical media. They used a variety of neuromarketing methods, including eye tracking and biometric measurements, to gauge the initial reactions.

A week later, many of the same subjects were put in an fMRI machine to evaluate the longer-term impact of the ads.

At several points in the process, the scientists also used traditional questionnaires to gather comparison data. The link above includes photos of the physical ad displays and experimental setup.

What They Found

Here’s a tabular summary of the results prepared by the Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG), who commissioned the study – the “x” indicates the medium which performed better:

Print vs. digital ads

Some of the interesting findings are:

  • 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.

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