What Your Digital Campaign Is Missing, According to Neuroscience

Triggering an emotional response

Sure, digital is the fastest growing category in terms of allocated U.S. ad spend, but there’s one form of media that smart marketers are still obsessed with: Print. Print ads are better than both online and TV at increasing brand favorability and purchase intent, according to a Millward Brown meta-analysis of nearly 100 ad effectiveness studies. In other words, this research proves print’s favorable attributes that every new media option is trying to tap into—namely trusted content, consumer engagement and validated sales drivers. Here are three more reasons why print advertising is a worthy investment.

1. Print ads drive higher awareness and recall

There’s been a lot of scientific research on the print vs. digital debate. For example, Temple University neuroscientists used brain mapping to discover that people were more likely to remember an ad and its context if they saw it in print as opposed to on a screen. In fact, the print-exposed group showed significantly higher activity in the area of the brain associated with reward processing and desirability—an actual marketer’s dream. Furthermore, the MPA–the Association of Magazine Media recently released “What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Why Print Magazine Advertising Works?,” a whitepaper summarizing a wide body of research about how consumers’ brains process paper-based information differently from information transmitted on screens. The findings suggest that physical materials generate more emotional processing than digital media.

2. Print increases ad effectiveness across platforms

It’s a multi-channel world, and brands need to reach consumers across a myriad of print, broadcast and online platforms to deliver their messages effectively. Millward Brown’s analysis found that the combination of print and TV outperformed digital and TV across all relevant metrics. More importantly, the print and TV combination actually gave digital and TV ad recall a boost. Thus, exposure to print and TV in ad campaigns improved consumers’ ability to correctly associate the advertised brands with their respective digital advertising messages.

3. Publishers guarantee that print ads generate increased brand sales and positive ROI

Yep, you read that right. Last October, MPA—the Association of Magazine Media introduced the Print Magazine Sales Guarantee. This guarantee assures that print advertisers will see increased brand sales and positive ROI for qualified print campaigns, or their money/space back. To qualify for a campaign, the products and brands must have trackable third-party data, and the advertiser must buy a minimum of 150 GRPs within one magazine media company over 12 months, which must reflect an increase in business. Time Inc., Hearst Magazines, Conde Nast and Meredith Corp. have all conducted similar programs over the past several years, with positive results. For example, ads for the initial brands in Meredith Corp.’s program, Kimberly-Clark and Tyson Foods, helped achieve a sales increase of between 2 percent and 47 percent with an ROI of $7.45 for every $1 spent.

From increased awareness and recall to increased digital ad effectiveness, print advertising still plays a vital role in executing successful campaigns. And the industry-wide money-back or space-back guarantee certainly doesn’t hurt. If science and advertising have one thing to say: Print is far from dead.

All of this and more will be presented at the 2016 American Magazine Media Conference, February 1-2, 2016. Register here.