Print pushes back against the Digital Wave

There is an increasing awareness of the differences between how people comprehend and recall information they read from the printed page compared to digital devices such as computer screens, tablets and smart phones.

Generally, the feeling starting to emerge is that reading on these kinds of devices encourages distraction or skimming of information and not the kind of attention required for meaningful recall.

This article published in Print 21 looks at some of the statistics in regard to these issues suggesting that in the digital wave, print is still a powerful medium for capturing attention and encouraging action.

Four out of five people prefer reading print on paper than on a digital device, according to a new survey by global print media initiative Two Sides.

UK and USA-based consumer research found that 84% of respondents understood, retained or used information that had been printed and read on paper much better than information received on a digital device. About 79% found printed media more relaxing to read and 83% stated a clear preference for reading print on paper for more complex topics. Overall, 79% of respondents preferred to read print on paper when given the choice.

The survey also revealed that 60% of mobile/smart phone users were concerned about how those devices were damaging to their health because of eye strain, headaches and insomnia.

“While on-screen reading occupies an increasing amount of consumer time, people’s preferences are still for a physical reading experience and a ‘safe’ medium that is more informative, less distracting and less harmful to their health,” said Martyn Eustace, Director of Two Sides UK. “This indicates there is still a more fundamental and human way in which we react to the physicality of paper-based print. The results have lessons for all those who choose the way in which information is distributed, particularly for advertisers, marketers and educators who need to understand how information is being delivered, received, processed and retained.”

The findings have been backed by Pablo Del Campo, worldwide creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, who said that print was a more powerful medium than most people realise. “It’s time to question whether digital media delivers the better return on investment,” Del Campo told The Australian at the Cannes Lions International Festival. “We are seduced by digital media and it’s not necessarily because it’s more effective. I feel it’s because it’s new. The movement online has gone too far. Maybe advertisers don’t know exactly what to do. They are experimenting because they need to and I understand that. Let’s wait a couple of years and see, but I feel print is not extinct.

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