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Scientific research backs print to connect with readers

By on September 29, 2015 in Print vs Digital, Research

(by Mustafa Nuristani –


Latest scientific research has backed print saying that paper-based content and ads offer special advantages in connecting with the readers’ brains.


The most recent work supporting paper-based marketing is a study sponsored by Canada Post, and performed by neuromarketing firm TrueImpact.


DM – RZDThe study compared the effects of paper marketing (direct mail pieces in this case) with digital media (email and display ads).


Scientists used eye-tracking and high resolution EEG (electroencephalogram) brain wave measurement with conventional questions.


The three key metrics evaluated in the study were cognitive load (ease of understanding), motivation (persuasiveness), and attention (how long subjects looked at the content).


The results indicate that direct mail was easier to process mentally and requires 21 per cent less cognitive effort to process than digital media (5.15 vs 6.37), suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable.


Post-exposure memory tests validated what the cognitive load test revealed about direct mail’s memory encoding capabilities.


BrainWavesWhen asked to cite the brand (company name) of an advertisement they had just seen, recall was 70 per cent higher among participants who were exposed to a direct mail piece (75 per cent) than a digital ad (44 per cent).


As a measure of overall effectiveness, the authors of the report calculate what they call the motivation-to-cognitive load ratio, and say values greater than 1.0 are most predictive of in-market success.


By their calculation, direct mail scored 1.31 compared to 0.87 for digital media.


This is not the only recent research that supports prints effectiveness over digital. A US Post study by Temple University in America showed that paper advertising activated the ventral striatum – which is an indicator of desire and valuation – area of the brain more than digital media.


Researchers say the ventral striatum is a small brain structure with the highest correlation with advertising effectiveness.



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