1. acting as a stimulus or incitement, esp to anger or sexual desire; provoking: a provocative look, a provocative remark


As the science of Neuromarketing continues to gain relevance and credibility, more data is being developed to correlate the hypothesis that print is indeed provocative.

Digital marketing is here, and it continues to find new ways to attract marketers. Digital can’t be beat for short-run promotions, instant access, localization, or the ability to distribute in seconds. It puts access to videos and podcasts a click away. It’s also low cost.

But the allure of print is that it is quite frankly, simply sexier. It can be touched. In fact is can even be smelled. Print is about longer-term relationships. We also give print more undivided attention. Our reading experience is not interrupted by pop-ups, email alerts, and meeting notices. So, in addition to being more provocative, print is arguably more intimate too!

“Just buying it or getting it in the mail provokes the reader to engage in a way that digital doesn’t. If you have time to read a magazine, then you’re going to really engage with the ads in there. Print ads should inspire you to look at them even longer.”

Britt Fero, executive Vice President and Head of Strategy in the Seattle office of New York-based ad agency Publicis

Ink on a printed page also impacts the brain differently. A recent study involving  a mystery story distributed across Europe showed that readers are affected differently when reading from paper and ink than when copy is consumed from a Kindle or an iPad.

“In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers,”

Anne Mangen, Norway’s Stavanger University

A more important outcome of Mangen’s study for marketers was the poor performance of study subject in placing the story’s plot components in the correct order.  After all, Content Marketing is at it’s core storytelling. Readers of stories comprehend better from print.

Which warrants another look at the neuroscience behind it all. Roger Dooley, author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing, really breaks down the subject in his Forbes article. Dooley gets right to the issue, or rather, the center of the brain. His review of a recent Temple University study further validates the fact that weeks after absorbing ads in both digital and print formats, the print ads showed greater emotional response and recall. Much of this having to do with the way print is processed by an area of the brain called the ventral striatum, which showed more activity with print media stimulation than digital media.

“Marketers should take advantage of of the unique properties of both digital and print. In particular, print advertising can maximize sensory appeal. Print offers the ability to deliver rich, vivid images along with tactile stimuli.”

Roger Dooley, Author

Print media seems to connect more easily to the brain as a function of the way it engages with spatial memory.  Layer that on top of the fact that the ventral striatum was found to be an indicator of desire and valuation, and it becomes clear why print stirs more emotion.


Dooley's Spin On Why Print Bests Digital