Print, television or online? That’s the question many businesses ask themselves when they embark on a new marketing or communications campaign. With all of the advances in digital technology, one might think that print marketing is past its prime. But the research is clear: Print marketing outperforms other forms of marketing, and it can generate even greater results when used in combination with other media avenues.
While the results aren’t surprising, they do shed some new light on exactly why print marketing is incredibly effective. The key is how our brains capture and process information.
In 2015, the Association of Magazine Media released “What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Why Print Magazine Advertising Works?” and “The Print Campaign Analysis” reports based in part on research firm Millward Brown’s meta-analysis of nearly 100 advertiser-commissioned studies on advertising effectiveness. The research spanned eight years and more than 250,000 respondents.
The findings provide a fascinating look inside the psychological processes that take place when we consume information via print and digital channels.
1. Reading on Paper is Slower and Deeper
When people read content online, they tend to read very quickly, skimming the information for key ideas. In contrast, when people consume information on paper, they read slower and more deliberately, allowing them to take in more information and understand it at a deeper level.
2. Paper-Based Reading is More Focused
Reading online comes with many distractions. Frequent interruptions from advertisements, notifications, applications and other on-screen components make it difficult for readers to focus on the material. Print materials don’t offer the same distractions, meaning readers can stay focused on the content.
3. Print Readers Comprehend and Remember More
Being able to slow down and focus while reading means print readers achieve better comprehension and recall than those who read the same material online. Studies have found that the multisensory experience of holding and manipulating paper while reading helps form connections between the content and more abstract ideas.
4. Print Marketing Makes Products More Desirable
Multisensory connections also make it easier for readers to visualize doing, feeling and experiencing the concepts, situations or products they are reading about, especially in advertisements. This can increase affinity for the brand or products being advertised. Digital-only campaigns do not generate the same response.
5. Print Leads to Purchases
Increase in brand favorability and purchase intent via print magazine ad exposure is seven percentage points greater than through online advertising, and three percentage points greater than television advertising. Brand favorability and purchase intent are the metrics most closely connected with purchasing behavior.
6. Print Works in Combination with Other Platforms
Print can help boost results when used in combination with one or more other channels. Combining print and television advertising produced results that were two times greater than television and online combined. The combination of all three types of media produced even better results, furthering the idea that print is a cornerstone media that drives results.
7. Print Boosts Recall of Other Media
People better recall television advertisements when print ads are part of the overall campaign. They are better able to associate brands with advertising messages when exposed to print.
8. Print Continues to Raise Awareness Over Time
Television and online campaigns show diminished returns after four exposures. Print marketing, on the other hand, continues to improve ad awareness and persuasion at five or more exposures. That makes print an ideal platform for long-term campaigns.
Print Marketing is the Key to Effective Campaigns
The reports note that the print paper platform is responsible for much of the consistent high performance of magazine media. The evidence is so strong that some magazine publishers now guarantee advertisers that their print marketing campaigns will increase brand awareness and generate return on investment.
“We are definitely advocates for paper,” said Vanecia Carr, director of marketing for Domtar’s printing papers division. “But we also recognize the role paper plays in creating a rich multimedia experience that spans print, social media, video, online and other channels. It can drive people online with augmented reality and QR codes — things that didn’t exist in the past. They all work together to enrich the experience for readers and generate greater ROI for marketers, but paper plays a special role in how people consume information.”
For more research on why print is an effective medium, check out these articles: