Print Advertising Versus Digital (It’s About Affectiveness)

print vs digital advertising

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Are there times when print advertising versus Digital is better? Certainly you can reach more people instantaneously with digital.

Print creates an emotional response digital does not have the same affect

Using audio, video, and many other cool techniques are some of the advantages when you establish a powerful message using online strategies. Why do we even need print in our fast moving, tech driven world?

Several recent studies have focused on the benefits of print advertising, and the findings are significant. Apparently the way we perceive physical material vs. digital is very different. Printed media is three dimensional and appears more vibrant to our mind’s eye. Print ads create an emotional response, whereas digital advertising informs but does not have the same effects.

How Print Advertisements Imprint Your Message

Print advertising stimulates a vital area of the brain that produces feel good dopamine

Several studies using neuroscience and functional MRI ‘s studied the brain’s reaction to print ads and direct mail material along with digital ads and digital marketing.

Findings indicate that print advertisements, for example, stimulate a vital area of the brain that elicits feel good dopamine.

This area of our brain is the basic circuitry for decision making and self reward after making a decision. Both print advertising and digital elicit attention, engagement, memory, and purchase willingness.

Print takes the response further by stimulating an emotional reaction. Printed materials also create a subconscious desire and a higher sense of value for the product being promoted.

Seeing Is Believing

The findings indicate that print advertising, or physical material, that you can see, touch and maybe even smell engages our neural networks better than digital.

Colorful magazine advertisements engage emotional processes connected with feelings, memory and associations

Colorful magazine advertisements, for example, engage emotional processes that are directly connected with feelings, memory and associations.

A breakthrough study published in the Journal of Consumer Research indicates that ‘people who read vivid print advertisements for fictitious products actually come to believe they’ve tried the products.’ The study found that ‘imagery-evoking advertisements increases the likelihood that a consumer mistakenly believes that he/she experienced the advertised product.’

Digital Advertising Pros and Cons

Digital, online marketing is one of the greatest developments in media communication in recent times. The ability to target, retarget, personalize, provide analytics, increased segmentation, present videos and other enhancements have advanced everything we do when searching and purchasing brands and products.

Product videos showing how customers interact with your product enhances the customer experience

The findings of a recent San Jose University study probably won’t be a surprise to most. They found that ‘screen based reading behavior is characterized by more time spent on browsing, scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, non-linear reading and reading selectively.’ The conclusion derived from this study is that less time spent on in-depth and concentrated reading decreased retention.

Separately from this study, online product video may also enhance the customer experience in a different way. Featuring product videos showing how customers interact with your product enhances the customer experience and consumer confidence. When consumers watch a product video 57% feel confident making a purchase decision and 50% report that the are more engaged with a brand as a result of the video interactive experience.

Enhancing The Brand Experience Using Print

The four dimensions of the Brand Experience include Sensory, Affective, Intellectual and Behavioral experiences. Getting consumers to see vivid imagery and feel something tactically stimulates their senses. Setting a mood, stimulating their imagination and interacting with the reader on a deeper level accesses their affective, intellectual and behavioral responses to your message.  

Direct mail, sales collateral and magazine advertising are among the best ways to deliver vibrant, mind altering material to transform a prospect into a customer. Stimulating the emotional center of the consumer’s mind, is the first step to creating a deeper relationship through their visual experience.

Newspaper advertising is not as captivating as other, more vibrant, forms of printed material. While color ads are available in newspaper print, the reproduction quality is diminished in standard newspaper print runs.

Newspaper is effective in creating political ads that can change a mind-set

Having stated this, when you incorporate as many of the four dimensions for creating a brand experience as possible, newspaper ads can reach a wide geographic market very quickly.

Newspaper has proven extremely effective in creating experiential political ads or when a company is faced with changing consumer opinion, or a mind set. Examples of this are after a negative situation, such as a product recall, that needs to be addressed and squelched, or when a major announcement is in order.

Using Print Advertising In Sales Promotion

There are times when marketers need to reach consumers on an emotional level to create a desired response. Certainly, brand advertising, where a specific brand image is being established, needs to be clear, simple and immediately impactful. Vivid print ads along with online, engaging brand or product video are the most effective ways to produce impressions that create actual brand experiences in the consumer’s mind.

When a consumer is familiar with a brand and has an established connection, a Smartphone banner ad, for example, may be very effective in engaging your customer and driving a purchase action.

Consider when you may need to create an experience to engage a consumer in your sales promotion campaign. A sweepstakes featuring a brand attribute converted into an exciting sweepstakes prize. A coupon campaign where you want the viewer to almost taste a food product. A financial service offer that will free the viewer to live a glamorous life.

Print advertising, direct mail and other physical, printed material will touch the emotional processing center of the brain and ignite positive associations, while stimulating a response.

Keep Ads Simple For More Engagement

Marketers have known for years that if you give a reader of your ad or direct mail piece too many choices, they become paralyzed and don’t act. For example a postcard with either a phone number or a online address performs better than the same piece that offers both options.

A series of studies presented in the Harvard Business Review focused on this issue as it relates to sweepstakes and other consumer communications.

Too many choices causes people to become paralyzed and they don’t act

In the sweepstakes study the researchers found that offering a prize pyramid, with a grand prize and a series of lower level prizes, does not perform as well as offering one grand prize.

This seems counterintuitive to me because I believed consumers would be more inclined to enter if there were more chances to win. Well this study proved me wrong! The study found that when many smaller prizes were featured along with a grand prize, it brings home the message that the odds of winning the grand prize is reduced due to all the choices of prizes.

While this goes against everything I believed, it makes perfect sense when I consider reducing choices in generating consumer response in an ad or direct mail piece.

Bottom line is that print and digital ads need to focus on ‘highlighting one large potential advantage of a product (or a sales promotion offer) to generate sales.’

 Connect with your customer’s internalized emotions by using vibrant print advertising, direct mail and sales collateral to create an emotional response that enhances their brand experience.



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