Does the human brain process messages differently when viewed online or on printed media? That was the question Britain’s Royal Mail sought to answer in their groundbreaking 2007 research with Millward Brown.
According to Millward Brown, “The UK’s Royal Mail wanted to understand whether there are any differences in the communication effectiveness of physical and virtual media.”
With digital media exploding on the scene while printed media declined, it was important to understand what, if anything, was being lost in the move to digital channels. Their experiment was designed to investigate “how the brain processes physical marketing materials, such as direct mail, compared to virtual (or digital) materials presented on a screen.”
You can read the details of the science behind the study here. The takeaway for marketers and advertisers it what we find fascinating (taken from the report):
- Tangible (i.e. printed) materials leave a deeper footprint in the brain.
- Physical material involves more emotional processing, which is important for memory and brand associations.
- Physical materials produced more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of the ads.
Deeper footprints? Emotional connections? Internalized feelings? For advertisers, this is big.
The more we understand the human brain, the better we can be at our jobs. This research proves that, for deeper and more emotional connections with your customers, direct advertising and printed mail have a heavy advantage over digital channels. Go print.