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David Pidgeon 

News UK study: tablet ads 'as memorable as print'

News UK study: tablet ads 'as memorable as print'

New research from News UK Commercial has revealed that editorial content and advertising in the tablet edition of The Times newspaper is delivering the same levels of 'engagement and memorability' as the print version.

The findings of the neuroscience-based research, which tracked how readers subconsciously responded to both platforms, conclude that the general industry view that it is the platform that drives behaviour, rather than the content, should be called into question.

The independent neuroscience research project, conducted by Neuro Insight and Decode Implicit Marketing, was designed to understand how people consume content and advertising in print and on tablet.

The study revealed that whilst there are some minor physical differences in how people access the newspaper content on different platforms, "if it is presented consistently, the way readers process the information and what they take out is similar across both content and advertising."

Currently, The Times has a circulation of almost 396,000 for its printed product and last month was the only national newspaper to record any year-on-year circulation growth (+1.6%), according to the latest ABC data. The tablet edition, which is locked behind a paywall, has around 143,000 paying subscribers.

However, despite the modest growth, the UK printed newspaper market is in a general decline and as consumers increasingly migrate away from print towards digital platforms, publishers will undoubtedly be looking for ways to maintain and grow ad revenues, which are often set at a lower price for digital than in print.

Tablet ads also are seen for a shorter period of time than print ads, but, according to the findings "still deliver the same levels of memorability". Similarly, the study found that, contrary to popular belief in the advertising world, the position on the page - right versus left - had no impact on attention levels.

Other findings revealed that tablets "generate more immediate visual attention", whilst print is a "slower burn medium, eliciting stronger levels of emotional intensity."

However, both deliver the "same levels of memory encoding" - the ability to store and recall information - which is deemed crucial in influencing future actions. Memory encoding was consistent across print and tablet in terms of both memory detail (left brain) and memory global (right brain).

Chart 1Chart showing how advertising within The Times may be processed differently. Image credit: News UK

"This research challenges the common held belief in our industry that people behave differently based on which platform they are consuming content," said Abba Newbery, director of ad strategy for News UK Commercial.

"What it actually shows is that behaviour is driven by content and not platform. If memory encoding for ads on print and tablet are the same despite people spending shorter time on tablet ads then maybe news brands should be charging the same?"

Commenting on the findings, media research expert David Brennan - who founded Media Native and works for newspaper marketing body, Newsworks, as an insight consultant - said the research tallies with similar neuroscience data he has seen from studies he has commissioned across a range of media channels.

"It is more likely that Times tablet readers are particularly engaged with the title if they are subscribers, so there may be a cohort effect," he told Newsline, "but the similarities in brain processing between tablet and print makes sense and supports the view that mobile devices have enhanced traditional media experiences in a way that online via laptops and desktops do not."

Chart 2Although readers process advertising differently, overall responses are similar. Image credit: News UK

Chart 3Image credit: News UK

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Tim froggett, Marketing academic, Anglia Ruskin university on 26 Nov 2014
“One study is no basis for the claim that "prevailing views need to be re-assessed"”
Jonathan Cahill, Director, Z Limited on 15 Nov 2014
“l am unclear as to what the role of neuroscience was in this research. Was fMRI used and is so how?”
Guy Consterdine, CEO, Guy Consterdine Associates on 12 Nov 2014
“The conclusion that tablet ads match print ads for memorability ties up with results of research from several countries into magazine ads. When the same ad appears in both print and digital editions of magazines, they are recalled equally well on average. Tablet ads generate action taken just as much as print ads, and the time spent reading is just as high. If the tablet ads have interactive features, the dwell time is even greater than for print, on average. For more on this see the report just published by FIPP, 'Proof of Performance', second edition. It's downloadable free from”