Paper Beats Digital According To Neuroscience Study

Despite the enormous migration to electronic media, neuroscience research shows that paper-based content and ads offer special advantages in connecting with our brains.

According to Forbes, it will come as good news for printers and paper companies.

For years, publishers and marketers have been steadily transforming from “print to digital”—driven by how all of us consume media. Contributoe Roger Dooley reports “we increasingly get our news, entertainment, and information via computers, tablets, and phones. Print-based media outlets have seen a decline in use and in some cases have disappeared completely.”

Dooley reports in Forbes that those looking forward to the demise of paper may be surprised by the latest neuroscience research.

Canada Post has sponsored a Canadian neuromarketing firm TrueImpact to study the effects of paper marketing (through direct mail hard copy flyers) with digital media (email and display ads). “The technologies used in this study were eye-tracking and high resolution EEG brain wave measurement. Conventional questionnaires were also used.”

The study looked at the differences on the ease of understanding, the persuasiveness and how long subjects looked at the content between hard copy and digital media.

The hard copy, paper direct mail was found to be easier to process mentally and tested better for brand recall. According to the report, content on paper requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media (5.15 vs. 6.37), suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable. When asked to cite the brand (company name) of an advertisement they had just seen, recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to a paper content (75%) than a digital ad (44%).

The latest study supports the findings of a 2009 study conducted by Bangor University which also looked at the different effects of paper and digital media.

Dooley concludes science clearly shows paper can be more impactful and memorable than digital. While digital offers instantaneous access, localization, powerful personalization and targeting, audio and video, he reminds publishers and marketers print can maximize sensory appeal through rich, vivid images along with tactile stimuli.

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