Neuroscience backs tablet ads

13 November 2014

LONDON: Advertising in tablet editions of newspapers can deliver the same levels of engagement and memorability as the print issue, new research has shown.

The Times commissioned a study utilising neuroscience to examine how readers responded at a subconscious level when viewing content on each version. The results, MediaTel reported, suggested that prevailing views would need to be reassessed.

While there were some small physical differences in how people accessed newspaper content on the 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", the study said.

So, while tablet ads are typically seen for a shorter period than print ads they "still deliver the same levels of memorability".

Tablets were able to generate immediate visual attention; by comparison, print was a "slower burn medium, eliciting stronger levels of emotional intensity". But both delivered the same levels of memory encoding, or the ability to store and recall information, which in turn is seen as crucial in influencing future actions.

"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?"

Insight consultant David Brennan added a note of caution, pointing out that "Times tablet readers are particularly engaged with the title if they are subscribers, so there may be a cohort effect".

But he felt the similarities in brain processing between tablet and print made sense. This "supports the view that mobile devices have enhanced traditional media experiences in a way that online via laptops and desktops do not," he added.

Data sourced from MediaTel; additional content by Warc staff