This is Your Brain on Direct Mail – and it’s a Good Thing

Posted on July 30, 2013 by @direct_cpc in Marketing solutions

Image Source: Millward Brown ©2009

What makes our brains light up? How can your marketing message leave a deeper footprint? Does the brain have a preference when it comes to advertising mediums?

Cutting-edge neuroscience at Bangor University’s Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology used functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery (fMRI) to see whether our brains react differently to virtual and physical marketing materials.

The red shows brain areas activated by physical ads. The blue shows brain areas reacting to on-screen ads.

As participants interacted with on-screen and card-stock ad messaging, functional MRI scanning monitored their brain activity for engagement. It turns out that, yes, there is an advertising medium that makes a bigger impact on our brains! The Millward Brown study’s findings show that:

  • Physical materials leave a bigger impression in the brain – and in many more areas.
  • The emotional centres of the brain light up far more strongly for the paper-based ads.
  • Tangible ads produce much stronger brain response in parts of the brain connected to internal feelings.

The brain “sees” physical ads as more real and remembers them better. And that’s just with basic card stock and no fancy shapes, textures, or folds.

The same area of the brain that processes memory and powerful emotions reacts much more strongly to the card ad than to the same message on a screen, suggesting that the physical ad creates more emotionally vivid memories – which helps to up response rates! In fact, the cerebellum, which also handles spatial and emotional processing and motor activity, barely reacts to online advertising but gets busy when dealing with a tactile ad piece.

Finally, physical advertising materials produced more response in the area of the brain that processes internal feelings, indicating a stronger “internalization” of the ads. At the same time, the brain’s default processes became more active when viewing direct mail, suggesting to researchers that the marketing message is being aligned with the individual’s own thoughts and feelings.

Take advantage of one of the easiest ways to make your message more memorable. “Neuromarketing” makes a strong case for integrating the tactile benefits of direct mail into your next marketing campaign.

P.S. Need a direct mail refresher? Watch relationship marketing expert Mark Morin’s entertaining webinars on the creative and practical aspects of DM.


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