Paper is thriving in today's digital world. But why? And how? Despite the "print to digital" transformation schools and organizations have indulged in within the last decade, neuroscience suggests that paper offers unique advantages in making lasting connections with our brain.
That's good news for marketers all around! So why is it that paper rules? Let's take a look at the latest data.
Paper is Easier for the Brain to Process.
According to a study conducted by a Canadian neuromarketing firm, print marketing is more effective than digital media in terms of understanding and attention. The study found that direct mail requires 21% less mental effort than email advertisements. This suggests that paper marketing is both easier to understand and more memorable than digital media (Source).
Paper-based texts are also easier on the eyes. It is easier to read longer documents on paper than on-screen. A study in Norway discovered that paper-based content is significantly easier to comprehend than digital texts.
Paper is Perceived as More Legitimate.
Paper contracts and legal documents are perceived to be more valid in our culture. Though there is still a push for "going green," even paper signatures are more accepted than digital e-signatures.
Further, our brain responds to physical material as being more "real" than digital media. It has a place in the world, which means it has a meaning. This makes it easier for our brain to connect with it. In turn, making it more memorable (Source).
Digital is Distracting.
Digital media and technology interferes with our ability to learn. Duke University conducted a study on students in grades five through eight. The study found that students who obtain a computer at home receive lower math and reading scores than those who don't. Why? Results suggest that parents may not monitor computer use as closely as needed to ensure their kids aren't becoming distracted.
Another study found that technology encourages multitasking, something that can deter proper attention and learning. College students are more likely to multitask during class by checking e-mail, playing games, instant messaging, etc. if they have a laptop in hand. The study also revealed that laptop use is directly linked to class performance, and those who use laptops in class receive lower grades.
Sources for both of these studies are found here.
Paper Encourages Interaction.
Print also encourages more interaction than electronics. Parents are more likely to talk to their children about what they're reading if they are reading a paper-based book. This parent-child interaction helps children gain reading and comprehension skills faster. Children who read digital books aren't getting this kind of interaction (Source).
There is no doubt that electronic media has a place in today's world. Computers, smart phones, laptops and tablets are wonderful pieces of technology. With that being said, they can sidetrack even the best of us. Print continues to rule the digital world because it can offer something digital can't: a physical connection.
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