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Insights:Traditional ads vs digital ads

February 26, 2019

With the ever-growing proliferation of digital marketing, it’s only natural for marketers to wonder if going all digital is the smart move. Digital offers flexibility that printed material simply cannot match and often cost less because there are no printing or shipping costs.

But figuring out the true cost of customer acquisition is the true indicator of effectiveness.

A recent United States Postal Service-funded research project examined the strengths and weakness of traditional vs digital ads. Unlike most surveys that simply ask questions of participants, this research program used survey questionnaires, eye tracking, core biometrics, and neuro-imaging to examine all levels of physiological and neural activity.

The results showed no clear winner, but do indicate some valuable insights in how different marketing formats work at a subconscious level.

Some of the key findings about the strength of digital ads included:
• Consumers process digital ad content faster than printed material
• While consumers spend more time with printed ads, they actually absorb the same amount of information with a quicker look at a digital ad
• Digital ads were shown to capture consumer attention faster than printed ads

Key findings about the strength of physical marketing materials included:
• Consumers spend more time with printed material and remember the ad longer
• Printed ads were shown to have a much higher trustworthiness than digital ads
• Consumers showed a stronger emotional response to printed ads
• Physical ads triggered activity in the area of the brain that is responsible for value and desirability, which can signal a greater intent to purchase.

One of the key takeaways from this research is even with the onset of new marketing platforms, one of the basic tenants of advertising remains the same. It takes multiple touch-points in multiple mediums to acquire new customers. Each medium has their strengths for delivering a message that resonates with people, and understanding them and using each strategically is the key to success.

A final thought: if putting all your marketing eggs into the digital basket was the best solution, why does the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, promote itself with television commercials?

If you have questions about the best medium(s) for your message, give us a call at 605-275-0011 or send us an email.

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