Research shows that print is the cornerstone of successful multi-platform campaigns

It’s a multi-channel world and brands need to reach out to consumers across a myriad of print, broadcast and online platforms to get their message across. But what role does each channel play? What is the optimal media mix? And how should buyers be allocating their budgets to get the biggest bang?

To get a clear understanding of how effective print is in today’s market, MPA—The Association of Magazine Media brought in Millward Brown to conduct a meta-analysis of  nearly 100 ad effectiveness studies commissioned by advertisers between 2007 and 2015. These ranged across advertiser categories and brands and generated survey responses from more than 250,000 respondents.

The results looked at how ads on different media channels affected consumers as they moved through the purchase funnel, with specific focus on metrics measuring brand awareness, ad comprehension and recall, and persuasion. It analyzed how each of the three major media—print, TV and online—perform separately and in combination with each other.

So what did the meta-analysis  find? Here are some of the key results:


Print Pushes Purchasing

Print advertising led to the greatest increases in the metrics closest to purchasing behavior: brand favorability and purchase intent. Print ad exposure generated lifts that were seven percentage points higher than those for online and three percentage points higher than those for TV. Among key verticals, these results were mirrored in the automotive, entertainment and financial services segments.


Print Can Be the Catalyst

When advertisers used print in combination with other platforms, they were most successful in raising outcome metrics. It’s probably no surprise that in most cases the print/online/TV combination had more powerful effects than lesser combinations. Among the two-medium combinations, print/TV was especially effective across almost all of the outcome metrics measured. Surprisingly, the print/TV combination outperformed the online/TV combination across all relevant metrics, and in some areas (such as aided awareness, brand favorability and purchase intent), the print/TV combination produced deltas that were twice as large as online/TV.


Need to Boost TV or Online Recall? Try Print

Adding print to a TV schedule actually helped consumers recall the TV ads they had seen. Exposure to TV and print in ad campaigns improved consumers’ ability to correctly associate the advertised brands with their respective advertising  messages. Similarly, when it comes to online ad awareness lift, the print/online combination outperformed the online/TV combination by four percentage points.


People Don’t Tire of Print Ads

Finally, the study sought to determine optimum ad exposure by channel. While TV and online showed diminishing returns after four exposures, print continued to improve ad awareness and persuasion metrics at higher (five-plus) frequencies. Ad awareness was higher for print at all exposure frequencies. Message association, brand favorability and purchase intent all continued to show increased growth at the five-plus exposure frequencies for print.

Ultimately, print is more effective in multi-platform campaigns the further down the funnel the consumer goes. And it becomes stronger than other channels at increased frequencies. That’s not surprising, especially  considering the research outlined last week on how the brain processes print information.