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Tablet Content and Ads as memorable as Print

A neuroscience-based research study from News UK Commercial focused on The Times reveals how print and tablet advertising and content deliver the same levels of engagement and memorability.

According to News UK Commercial, 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, commented on the research: “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?”

The research was conducted on behalf of News UK by industry neuroscience research companies, Neuro Insight and Decode Implicit Marketing.


News UK Commercial says the methodology for the research was as follows:

1. The neuroscience research looked at readers’ subconscious responses to The Times in print and tablet editions, using Steady State Topography (SST) monitors to monitor second-by-second electrical activity generated when different neurons fire in the brain.

2. Qualitative research – exploring conscious attitudes and behaviour, using neuro results to inform questioning

3. Exit questionnaire – collecting demographic and other information at the end of each neuro session

4. Visual impact study – using a computer-based software tool to assess visual ‘stopping power’ of different pages/layouts