Aristotle’s tried and true rhetorical method might just be a successful formula for advertising, too. Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; and then tell them what you told them.

With advertising it seems, hitting people more than once – and via the same medium –yields the strongest results. Most notable, however, is that doubling down on a physical advertisement appears to be the best approach, according to our recent white paper, The Brain’s Response to Ad Sequencing

Our latest research measured the neurological response to advertisements shown in a particular sequence and found that physical ads, shown twice, led to better memory recall of the product – and interest in it – than any other tested sequence. Other tested sequences included back-to-back digital ads, a physical ad followed by a digital one, and the reverse order (digital then physical).

We aren’t just guessing here. The brain is telling us this is true. For this study, we again partnered with Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making to study the effectiveness of physical media compared to digital media. This time we studied whether the order in which a consumer sees an ad influences his or her preferences and brand recall.

Temple again used the rigorous scientific method known as neuromarketing, which allows researchers to explore consumers’ subconscious responses and not just stated preferences. Neuromarketing methods reveal actual activity deep in the brain as opposed to stated answers to survey questions. You say you like that black pair of shoes better than the red ones, but do you really? Neuroscience lets you see how the brain lights up when viewing the different options. Researchers followed up with field tests to track consumer response to real-world ad campaigns.

Single-media advertising sequences (physical-physical and digital-digital) elicited better results for ad recognition and brand recognition. Other findings from the study have practical implications for marketers and the U.S. Postal Service: faces in ads spurred higher recall rates than scenes or words, and the physical-physical sequence was particularly effective for brand-building messages.

Why is this important? Maybe you’ve noticed that companies today have more media channels than ever to reach consumers. But choosing between available channels and developing an effective marketing campaign still takes a lot of guesswork. Companies need information on how available advertising media are processed by consumers and potential customers. For posts — which still generate significant revenue from advertising mail — it is critical to understand the relative strengths of physical and digital advertising, in order to define the role of mail in the Digital Age.

Neuromarketing research should help take some of the guesswork out of advertising choices. 


Thinking about the last time you bought something you saw in an ad, were you spurred by:

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