The Neurological Impact Of Print Media

7 December, 2020

In today’s world, we as humans consume information in more ways than ever before.

From social media to newspapers to online channels to magazines, you can now access a wealth of information in just a few clicks of a button or, through an AI-based device, with simply your voice.

While this progressive movement has been seen to be a great thing, coupled with this change has also seen the world of marketing change forever.

Moving away from a previous reliance on printed media, today’s marketers have generally embraced a more digitally-focused way of thinking. But is this the right thing to do? And has digitally printed media really had its day in the way people say?

Well, looking at the science, no it hasn’t – and here’s the evidence to prove it.

1. Consumers Respond More Favourably To Print Adverts

Back in 2015, Temple University – a research institution based in Pennsylvania, USA – conducted a study in collaboration with the US Postal Service (USPS) to determine how consumers responded to different forms of adverts.

Through the use of eye-tracking, core biometric analysis (heart rate, sweat, respiration, etc.) and a functional MRI (to image brain activity), the researchers involved discovered that, while most participants processed digital content more quickly, their emotional response was nowhere near as strong. Similarly, they didn’t retain the information as well as they did through printed media.

What’s more, the study also showed that physical printed adverts stimulated activity in the ventral striatum – an area of the brain associated with determining value and desirability towards products.

As such, the researchers concluded that consumers showed a greater purchasing intent using printed media than a similarly-presented digital media alternative.

2. Print Media Is Retained For Longer

During another study, this time including 72 students from two separate Norwegian primary schools, researchers found that people who read text in a printed format were able to better retain information, significantly outperforming students who read the same texts digitally.

This finding was suggested to be potentially due to screen-based reading being characterised by spending more time browsing and scanning text, rather than reading the words in more detail. In other words, people generally skim-read digital text and pay more attention to printed text.

With this in mind, it’s safe to say that digital media appears to be less attention-grabbing than printed media, largely thanks to the tailored designs that printed marketing materials such as posters can offer.

3. Printed Information Is Processed Faster

In a Canadian study, a group of researchers looked into how people respond to direct mail adverts and digital media from a neurological point of view.

Using a combination of techniques – including electroencephalography and eye-tracking – the team analysed the responses of all 270 participants and found that direct mail was not only much easier to understand for consumers, but it was also a lot more memorable than digital media alternatives. What’s more, it required 21% less cognitive effort to process, meaning it stayed in the consumer’s mind for longer, despite requiring less brainpower.

As a result of this, consumers were shown to process information much more quickly which, likewise, suggests that direct mail gets the message across a lot faster than digital media can.

Here at YouLovePrint, we understand the importance of printed media better than most. From brochures to business cards to flyers, we have helped many businesses attract new customers through our specialist digital printing services. To find out more about these services, simply contact our team today.