STUDY: Readers Remember Print Placements Better Than Digital

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A common challenge we’ve heard discussed among our PR contacts with “old-school” clients involves convincing them that placements on specialty blogs can be just as valuable (in terms of dollars and cents) as a mention in the Wall Street Journal.

No, you can’t hang them on your wall — but they can be even more important in terms of raising awareness of the client’s business.

A new study from the University of Houston does sort of throw a wrench into that line of thinking, though: it found that readers are more likely to remember things like, say, your client’s name and the products they sell when this information appears in print.

Here’s the key finding: after reading for 20 minutes and being asked to recall as many articles as possible:

  • Print-only readers recalled 4.24 stories on average
  • Online readers recalled an average of 3.35 stories

Interestingly, the gap grew even wider when it concerned the topics discussed in those stories and the main points made. Vox turned it all into a graph if you want to check out a visual representation.

This isn’t really a revolutionary conclusion, and it doesn’t mean that everyone should focus more on print. (We would like to add that reading the Sunday news is far more convenient in iPad form — especially when you’re trying to read it in the park on a windy day and you can’t quite convince your puppy to sit still for thirty minutes, dammit!)

At the same time, it’s a nice counterpoint to the “print is DEAD and therefore worthless” argument — and it can help reinforce the value of the placements you worked so hard to score.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.