To understand why print advertising is so effective, we have to understand what is happening in a reader's brain as they read.
Brain activity is, almost by definition, extremely complex. It is understandable that much advertising research has not traditionally focused on understanding how the brain consumes different forms of advertising messages. However 'how' the brain engages in a particular task and how hard or taxing that particular task is, does have a number of effects on behavior - affecting, for instance, how easily or well something is remembered.
Some activities make the brain work harder - such as reading. It forces the brain into problem-solving activity. When you read you have to think. What we 'see' for the time when we are reading is actually a perceptual construction of the brain. The brain reads in 'gulps' of information, picking up units of meaning from the page at an average rate of 4 times a second. During such a 'fixation', the eye only picks up useful information for an estimated 1/20 of a second. For the rest of the 'fixation' time, we are processing the information through the brain.
The very act of reading, then, has positive implications in terms of how receptive a consumer will be to a print message. Memory requires effort; therefore any task that requires effort is likely to enhance memory. The heightened level of arousal/attention which is inherent in a reading activity has to have a profound effect on the efficacy of advertising in print.
In terms of registering advertising awareness after just one advertising exposure, print outperformed TV by 38%. Print advertising is known to be a superb medium for branding.
Print ads must engage the readers attention because reading is so fast and selective, it can be hard to attract a reader's glance. Another factor is the 'wear-out' factor of print is high, far higher than TV. However while we should be aware of not over-using any one print ad, one should never sacrifice frequency of exposure to an advertising message.
copyright extracts from Fine Papers Printing Handbook