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print vs digital - getting the right marketing mix for your business


The dynamics of the advertising world is always moving and changing. The digital world is a huge part of our day to day lives and provides a massive opportunity to reach out to our customers in a variety of ways. While digital seems like the easy option, is it actually the best way to convert sales? Today we want to take a closer look at the print vs digital marketing mix and look at what research has to say on the subject. So which is the best marketing medium for your business that will get the best results?

While research shows paper based marketing tends to work best, the digital world cannot be ignored as more consumers are wired in and connected 24/7 to the internet through an array of digital devices. The product you are selling will also make a big difference towards your print vs. digital marketing efforts but we certainly believe that effective print advertising will drive digital purchases for your products.

We discuss this in our blog “12 million Australians say catalogues most useful media”(2), where in the latest media data from Roy Morgan Research shows that catalogues remain the number one go-to media source for groceries, clothes, toys, alcohol and cosmetics. Tim Martin, General Manager – Media, Roy Morgan Research says: “In a media landscape that often just assumes people are turning to the internet for information when purchasing or selecting any product, catalogues in fact lead the way for more than 12 million Australians.”(3).

Let’s take a closer look at some of the science behind the benefits of paper and print in an article written by Roger Dooley on Neurosciencemarketing.com. “Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper”(1), Roger discussed the new research in a study conducted for the U.S Post Office, where they analysed the way that people processed digital vs print advertisements. Some of the interesting results from the study included:

  • Digital ads were processed more quickly.
  • Paper ads engaged viewers for more time.
  • Subjects reported no preference for either medium.
  • Subjects absorbed about the same amount of information from both media.
  • A week later, subjects showed greater emotional response and memory for physical media ads.
  • Physical ads caused more activity in brain areas associated with value and desire.”(1)

In this same article (1), the results of a 2009 study (4) conducted by Bangor University and branding agency Millward Brown, also studied the effects of paper and digital media. Some of their key conclusions included:

  • “Physical material is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks.
  • 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.” (1) (4)

The debate, research and science behind the print vs digital debate is a fascinating one. While science clearly shows paper can make more of an impact and is more memorable than digital, digital certainly offers its own advantages. The key for any marketer, is to know your product, know your target market and take advantage of the benefits of both worlds. Don’t write off your printed marketing efforts just yet. It’s all about the sensory appeal of your marketing printed piece. A high quality piece of print has an authority, it carries a sense of prestige and is overall an eye catching medium. It provides an amazing range of opportunities for your business to create beautiful, multi-sensory pieces of work that simply cannot be replicated in any other way.

  1. http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/print-vs-digital.htm#
  2. http://www.theprintgroup.com.au/information-bank/12-million-australians-say-catalogues-most-useful-media.html
  3. http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/6214-catalogues-most-useful-media-for-clothes-alcohol-cosmetics-groceries-toys-december-2014-201504290424?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2015-04-29-AU-MRU&utm_content=2015-04-29-AU-MRU+CID_f79fe7af23742d9346be52233685995a&
  4. http://www.millwardbrown.com/docs/default-source/insight-documents/case-studies/MillwardBrown_CaseStudy_Neuroscience.pdf