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New Study Shows Surprising Benefits of Print Media Advertising

Is print dead? For most marketers, digital advertising now reigns supreme, and many have cut print out of their strategies altogether. But new research shows that print media advertising offers some surprising advantages to help marketers stand out from the crowd.

A new study by True Impact Marketing, as reported by the Toronto Star, measured the effects of print media on viewers. Researchers tracked the eye movements, brain activity and pupil dilation of 270 participants as they viewed mock ads in both print and digital formats. After exposure to the ads, participants were tested to see how well they remembered the advertising messages. The aim of the study was to understand whether viewing ads in different mediums changes the impact of the message.

Results showed that participants processed and recalled the print messages more readily than the digital messages: on average, it took 21% more brainpower to process the digital messages. Brand recall was also 70% higher for print media advertising than digital advertising. And participants indicated that they would be more motivated to act on the print ads than the digital ads—motivation scores were 20% higher for print.

Why might print ads be more memorable? In this day and age, digital marketing is ubiquitous. In order for a digital advertisement to make an impact, it has to cut through the noise. A print ad, especially a direct mail ad, is less common and therefore might stand out more easily.

In addition, the presence of a tactile object may increase recall in many people. Having something they can see, touch and refer back to could help them process the message and could motivate them to act on it. The design of a single piece of mail also eliminates clutter—rather than attempting to focus on a digital message that is a small part of a busy screen, a prospect can read the print marketing message in isolation and absorb it without distraction.

Digital media is still most people’s preferred method for viewing advertising messages, and its dominance in the marketing world is more than justified. But if you’re looking to make an unusual impact or to communicate a message that seems to be getting lost, print media advertising is a valuable option.