News UK finds tablet ads as memorable as print

The content and advertising in tablet editions of newspapers are processed by readers in a way far closer to the print experience than previously thought, according to the results of a neuroscience study led by News UK.

Abba Newbery: director of ad strategy for News UK Commercial
Abba Newbery: director of ad strategy for News UK Commercial

The neuroscience-based study was conducted on behalf of News UK by Neuro Insight and Decode Implicit Marketing. It focused on how users responded to The Times' tablet app.

It found that print and tablet advertising and content deliver the same levels of engagement and memorability. This finding challenges the general industry view that the platform drives behaviour, rather than the content.

The independent neuroscience research project was designed to understand how people consume content and advertising in print and on tablet.

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

The research discovered that tablets generate more immediate visual attention, while print is a slower burn medium, eliciting stronger levels of emotional intensity.

However, both deliver the same levels of memory encoding, which is 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).

Tablet ads in newspapers are seen for a shorter period of time than print ads (due to their solus page status), but still deliver the same levels of memorability. The study also found that the position on the page – right versus left – had no impact on attention levels.

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

"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?"