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Physical ads “more memorable”

August 15, 2016

advertisingA study into postage and physical adverts found the latter “have a pronounced effect on consumer decision-making”.

The study, reported by Inkondapaper and undertaken by the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General, saw the Centre for Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business “study the power of print and digital advertisements”, finding that physical adverts “have a pronounced effect on consumer decision-making”. The survey added that “the most optimal marketing campaigns” are those “mixing multiple mediums to hit their target audience”.

These “multifaceted endeavours” utilise magazine adverts, websites, billboards, direct mail, social media and smartphone apps, and the survey aimed to discover why direct mail and print ads have an “edge” even over “the power of the digital world”. Its main findings were that participants “spent more time” with physical ads, and “showed more desire for a product seen in print”, as well as being “more stimulated by physical ads than by their digital counterparts”.

Neuromarketing was “at the heart of this study”, combining neuroscience and psychology “to answer questions about marketing, consumer behaviour and advertising phenomena”, and exploring how consumers “processed and engaged with” ads consciously and subconsciously. The researchers found that three stages of buying came into play: “exposure to information”, “retrieval of information”, and “action”.

Through questionnaires, eye tracking, biometrics and neuroimaging across multiple sessions, researchers showed participants physical and digital ads, with the former on postcards and the latter in emails, with the first sessions using eye-tracking and biometrics, and the second using an MRI machine, before a third included a “simulated purchasing process”. The main result was that physical ads “were proven to have more influence” than digital “in a number of ways”.

These included spending “more time” with physical ads, “remember[ing] them more quickly and confidently”, and eliciting a “stronger emotional response” for a “longer-lasting impact”. Participants also had a “greater subconscious valuation and desire” for physically-promoted ads, meaning they have effectiveness “in two stages of the consumer journey”, including “exposure to information and retrieval of information”.

Digital ads were only better in terms of “focused attention”, while participants “gained the same amount of information from both types of advertisements”, and the survey concluded that digital media “is both cost-effective and the fastest way to communicate an idea to customers”, and should be used “when looking to gain attention and quickly deliver [a] message”.

Print however has “a more pronounced emotional effect” for “long-lasting impact and easy recollection”, and the researchers noted that “for marketers who want advertising with long-lasting impact and easy recollection, a physical ad simply has more psychological influence”, though the “most effective campaigns will use both in combination to create the most potent marketing mix”.

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