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The Print Effect: Magazines Matter, Print Matters– The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Marisa Davis, Report’s Author and Associate Director, Product Marketing, MNI Targeted Media…

April 24, 2017

The Print Effect: A New Study Conducted By MNI Targeted Media, A Time Inc. Company, Uses Consumer Behavior & Neuromarketing Principles To Prove Magazines Deliver When It Comes To Successful Advertising. What follows is The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with the author of the report Marisa Davis.

“And now, the pendulum is swinging back a little bit as people are reminded of the traditional consumer behavior principles; people want to be relaxed, leaned back and inspired. And digital media is not great when it comes to that and print media is. So, I think that as an industry, we’re now ready to have this conversation again.” Marisa Davis…

“When millennials are looking to unplug, and I think everyone wants an excuse to put down their phone, that relentless taskmaster that we’re constantly tethered to. And millennials are just like anyone else and they turn to magazines to stay informed. There was a study where they asked millennials, and all audiences, why they preferred to have robust reading experiences, those experiences where they really sit back and read for the content, and the study found that everyone, even digital natives, preferred to have those robust reading experiences on paper.” Marisa Davis…

MNI Targeted Media, a Time Inc. company, has been creating marketing experiences for over 50 years. From media planning to buying entities, to providing both online and targeted magazine solutions to reach their clients’ audiences, MNI states that its’ attitude is simple, if there’s anything they can do to help their clients succeed, they do it.

Marisa Davis is associate director, product marketing, for MNI. In a recent study the company conducted called “The Print Effect,” they focused on how consumer behavior and neuromarketing principles prove that magazines deliver when it comes to advertising success. This is a bold and very important research study that blows the phrase “print is dead” completely out of the water.

I spoke to Marisa recently and we talked about why magazine advertising really works and why even millennials read magazines, regardless of what the naysayers may cry. Physical magazines engage and connect with readers of all ages, involving more of the human senses than any other media. And of course, this is something that Mr. Magazine™ agrees with wholeheartedly. The study showed that 70 percent of consumers are more likely to remember a company from a print ad than a digital ad, and that is only one of many eye-opening statistics.

From that coveted “me-time,” to simply relaxing and falling into the welcoming arms of print, ink on paper has never gone out of style or been incapable of captivating an audience, not before digital, during digital, nor will it long after digital has morphed into the next big thing.

So, read and enjoy this wonderfully inspiring, very important conversation with Marisa Davis, associate director, product marketing, MNI, as she reveals to us the proof behind the power of print and print advertising.

But first the sound-bites:

On what the “Print Effect” study is about and what it highlights: What we really wanted to focus on was some unbiased research from sources that prove that magazine advertising works, and weren’t sources that were specifically from the publisher or the MPA (The Association of Magazine Media).

On why it took the industry, as a whole, so many years to recognize that magazines do work: In my opinion, prior to 1994 there was never a question whether magazines worked or not. When digital entered the scene, I think as an industry, we really lost our focus on traditional media, and people have been so centered on digital because of the perception that it’s very measurable and trackable. And when digital worked well for them, they shifted their dollars away from magazine media towards digital media and other new media.

On the finding that the human brain is happier with magazines than digital: When you’re reading digitally, we obviously can’t deny that it’s the most-used medium, but when you read digitally your brain is really task-oriented, so you’re going on your device to look something up that’s specific. You probably have a mission; you may be searching for a specific keyword. Your brain is happier when you’re reading on magazines, because it’s almost doing the exact opposite. It’s engaging with magazines the way we learn to read, left to right, bottom to top.

On whether a happier brain is why the study showed people remember an ad or an article in a magazine much more than they do when they read it digitally: Yes, we do think that. The retention is higher; the ad-recall is higher, because of that focused attention and the fact that people learned to read on paper, so they’re spending more time with it. And they’re spending more time, in general, with the ad on the other side of the page. With digital, their attention is really fragmented and that will lower your recall.

On a result form the study that really surprised her: For me, I’ve always been interested in consumer behavior. So, I was very curious when I started researching about the differences between high and low cognitive processing and how people are receptive to advertising messages. And in general, the actual brain scan from Millward Brown that showed the oxygenated blood flow to the brain and the actual brain lighting up a lot more and being more engaged when you’re reading in magazines, to me, was a really big “wow.”

On whether she thinks focusing on the consumer and the audience should be today’s strategy when moving forward, rather than focusing on the platform: It’s important to focus on the consumer and the audience, and I think that both traditional and new media do this well. But something that’s really unique about magazines is that the consumer is really the center of the magazine brand. No one knows the consumer better than the magazine brand does. And that’s largely because when a consumer seeks to have a relationship with a magazine brand, they are opting into that relationship. They give the magazine their name, address, phone number and credit card information. So, the consumer is central to the brand and that’s different than any other medium.

On the study’s findings about different types of advertising: Obviously, national magazine advertising is what we’re most familiar with. And that’s advertising that’s inside of the national magazines, bought directly through the publisher. But that’s different than what we sell at MNI. At MNI we sell local advertising in national magazines, so what we’re able to do is deliver magazines down onto the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) level or lower. And we can put local ads or regional ads in them.

On the research that found 95 percent of Americans under the age of 25 read magazines and whether that surprised her: I do think that people pick up magazines, but it did surprise me. That information came from the MPA and it is a little surprising, but I’m not shocked because if you look at the categories for where millennials are in their life stages, some are just entering the workforce, they’re interested in living healthy lifestyles, they’re perhaps getting married or buying a house. Or even older millennials are having their first child, and for all of those categories, if you pull the MRI numbers, magazines that fall into that category seriously over index for millennials.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Well, there’s definitely a cocktail involved, I can tell you that. (Laughs) But generally after work, I’m tethered to my phone, like most people. So after work I’m still checking my email; I’m on my phone. I’m toggling between the TV being on, cooking, maybe listening to music; a little Spotify streaming through my phone. But after dinner, I really do try and make a conscious effort to power down, so we have a rule in our house that we don’t allow digital devices in the bedroom.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) Everything. I guess something that I find myself thinking about is I’m on the road a lot with this presentation, and especially when I’m on the road, I’m thinking about how well it will be received by people and finding that, in general, millennials are very receptive to this presentation because they exhibit the same behaviors that I do and the same attitudes and feelings personally towards their mobile and digital devices. And perhaps experience a bit of cognitive dissidence, because we work in the media industry.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Marisa Davis, associate director, product marketing, MNI.

Samir Husni: You authored a study titled “The Print Effect.” Could you tell me about this study and what it highlights?

Marisa Davis: What we really wanted to focus on was some unbiased research from sources that prove that magazine advertising works, and weren’t sources that were specifically from the publisher or the MPA (The Association of Magazine Media).

When we started our research, what we found was that many of the studies that were done for direct mail, for example the Millward Brown Studies, were studies that were measuring the learning outcomes of children to determine if paper-based or digital-based reading was appropriate for their continued education and success. It ended up being research that also proved why magazines really work and deliver. And as we started to collect this information, we actually met with the MPA and found out that they had collected something similar. So, that was validation that we were really on the right track, when it came to proving why magazines really deliver, specifically with neuromarketing and consumer behavior principles.

Samir Husni: Why do you think it took the industry, as a whole, almost five or six years to recognize that magazines do work?

Marisa Davis: In my opinion, prior to 1994 there was never a question whether magazines worked or not. When digital entered the scene, I think as an industry, we really lost our focus on traditional media, and people have been so centered on digital because of the perception that it’s very measurable and trackable. And when digital worked well for them, they shifted their dollars away from magazine media towards digital media or other new media.

And now, the pendulum is swinging back a little bit as people are reminded of the traditional consumer behavior principles; people want to be relaxed, leaned back and inspired. And digital media is not great when it comes to that and print media is. So, I think that as an industry, we’re now ready to have this conversation again.

Samir Husni: Your study is one of at least three that I’ve seen where you’re dealing with the neuroscience of the brain and how it reacts. You mention in the report that, simply put, the brain is happier with magazines. Can you expand a little on that?

Marisa Davis: When you’re reading digitally, we obviously can’t deny that it’s the most-used medium, but when you read digitally your brain is really task-oriented, so you’re going on your device to look something up that’s specific. You probably have a mission; you may be searching for a specific keyword.

Your brain is happier when you’re reading on magazines, because it’s almost doing the exact opposite. It’s engaging with magazines the way we learn to read, left to right, bottom to top. You’re reading for actual comprehension and you’re happy to be reading it and engaged with the medium. It’s that coveted “me-time” that we know advertisers are hoping to intersect at with consumers.

It’s also a relaxing medium. And because of that your brain is more engaged when you’re reading on paper. You’re relaxed; you’re more receptive to the advertising, but because you’re physically holding it, you’re also engaging multiple senses. You’re flipping the pages with your hands and it’s also easier for your brain to process.

Digitally, your attention is less-focused, or fragmented. For example, things will be going on within the page, whether you’re clicking there or not, there will be an ad or content taking you away from the core material and that tires your brain, because it’s having to make the decision to either click there or not, where magazines, again, are an inspirational and aspirational medium and you can solely focus on the content. And it’s pretty much the only medium that you can engage with, and it’s only that medium at that time, such as when I watch TV, I’m on my phone at the same time too. And your brain doesn’t like that.

Samir Husni: Do you think that’s the reason that your study found that consumers will more likely remember an ad or an article in a magazine, rather than on their digital devices?

Marisa Davis: Yes, we do think that. The retention is higher; the ad-recall is higher, because of that focused attention and the fact that people learned to read on paper, so they’re spending more time with it. And they’re spending more time, in general, with the ad on the other side of the page. With digital, their attention is really fragmented and that will lower your recall.

Samir Husni: What surprised you most from this study? What was something that you didn’t expect?

Marisa Davis: For me, I’ve always been interested in consumer behavior. So, I was very curious when I started researching about the differences between high and low cognitive processing and how people are receptive to advertising messages. And in general, the actual brain scan from Millward Brown that showed the oxygenated blood flow to the brain and the actual brain lighting up a lot more and being more engaged when you’re reading in magazines, to me, was a really big “wow.”

But the other big wow that was a bit separate from the consumer behavior and neuromarketing principles was, as researchers or people in the media industry, for every argument that we found for something, there was always an argument against it. And I was presenting some of this research a few months ago in Miami and someone challenged me in their presentation that they could go onto the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) website and prove that everything I said had a counterargument.

And that exact day, the IAB cross-effectiveness media study came out. And this is a big deal, because the IAB is really dedicated to the proliferation and the regulation around digital media, and they couldn’t deny that magazines, hands-down, positively influenced campaign metrics. And what really resonated with me, and all the research facts that we know about the brain and why this makes sense, is U.S. net users trust magazines the most when making purchase decisions. So, 82 percent of U.S. internet users trust magazines when making a purchase decision and comparatively only 39 percent trust something like an online banner ad or a mobile banner ad.

And that really resonated with me, as someone who has no agenda to sell print media. It can’t be denied that print media is a vital part of the media mix.

Samir Husni: In the introduction to the study, Alan Murray, the chief content officer of Time Inc., wrote that, while we live in a digital-first culture, there’s no question that the combination of digital and print is important. It’s no longer either/or. Do you think that focusing more on the consumer and the audience is the best strategy moving forward, rather than focusing on the platform?

Marisa Davis: It’s important to focus on the consumer and the audience, and I think that both traditional and new media do this well. But something that’s really unique about magazines is that the consumer is really the center of the magazine brand. No one knows the consumer better than the magazine brand does. And that’s largely because when a consumer seeks to have a relationship with a magazine brand, they are opting into that relationship. They give the magazine their name, address, phone number and credit card information. So, the consumer is central to the brand and that’s different than any other medium. You don’t specifically subscribe to a website, in fact, people pay for ad-free models online. But with magazines, consumers are right at the center. And that will help them as the industry continues to grow and change.

Samir Husni: In your study you also dissected the type of advertising, whether it’s the national magazine advertising, the regional magazine advertising, or the cover wrap advertising; in the study you showed that the cover wrap was the most impactful. Can you explain how your study broke down those three categories, in terms of importance?

Marisa Davis: Obviously, national magazine advertising is what we’re most familiar with. And that’s advertising that’s inside of the national magazines, bought directly through the publisher. But that’s different than what we sell at MNI. At MNI we sell local advertising in national magazines, so what we’re able to do is deliver magazines down onto the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) level or lower. And we can put local ads or regional ads in them.

So, for example, a national brand can advertise with us, one like Coca-Cola, if they’re doing a product launch in just a few test markets. That’s a good way to be able to mirror their eventual national campaign.

Advertisers in regional magazines use us too. If you’re an energy group or a bank and you’re only available in six states, advertising in the six states that you actually have coverage can be done through our magazine titles, and give the illusion that it’s a national ad-buy, making the brand appear a lot larger.

Even local companies advertise with us, because again, it makes them seem as though they have a larger footprint and to have the prestige of a national magazine. And also the credibility of a national magazine, transferred onto that local advertiser, which helps them drive foot traffic.

What we’ve found is that 70 percent of our readers say that they value local advertising in magazines, and that it resonates with them. We also offer local copy splitting. So for example, an airline advertiser that’s running a special promotion from Chicago to Miami, plus another one that’s running from Atlanta to Dallas; we would be able to change the copy by market, again, that boosts the recall of the ad that they’re seeing.

That’s our local advertising, and we offer that in over 40 national titles, both from Time Inc. and Meredith, and the like. We also have cover wrap advertising. The conversation in the digital space is often about view ability, and magazine advertising is ,in general, 100 percent viewable, especially with the cover wrap, it’s the real estate that’s the most coveted.

Our advertisers that run in the cover wrap space get the cover page, the inside cover, the inside back cover, and the back cover, so it’s four pages or more, depending on what the creative is. We allow them to tell a story and give them that really valuable real estate. We’re able to do a full slot of the cover image, so it fits a lot with native and content marketing initiatives when brands have a large story to tell.

And we can send cover wraps to really niche individuals. I recently saw a cover wrap that went specifically to ingredient decision makers for nuts. And we were able to reach all of those people in the United States . So, it’s really a very targeted product that we have.

Samir Husni: During your research, you also found out that some studies show that 95 percent of Americans under the age of 25 still read print magazines. Did that surprise you? Supposedly, digital natives do not read magazines.

Marisa Davis: I do think that people pick up magazines, but it did surprise me. That information came from the MPA and it is a little surprising, but I’m not shocked because if you look at the categories for where millennials are in their life stages, some are just entering the workforce, they’re interested in living healthy lifestyles, they’re perhaps getting married or buying a house. Or even older millennials are having their first child, and for all of those categories, if you pull the MRI numbers, magazines that fall into that category seriously over index for millennials.

When millennials are looking to unplug, and I think everyone wants an excuse to put down their phone, that relentless taskmaster that we’re constantly tethered to. And millennials are just like anyone else and they turn to magazines to stay informed. There was a study where they asked millennials, and all audiences, why they preferred to have robust reading experiences, those experiences where they really sit back and read for the content, and the study found that everyone, even digital natives, preferred to have those robust reading experiences on paper.

Samir Husni: Is the study available if someone would like to read it? Is it on your website or downloadable?

Marisa Davis: Yes, the white paper will be in the May 1 issue of Ad Age, and it’s also available for download from our website, so it’s available on mni.com.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your home unexpectedly one evening after work, what would I find you doing; are you on your phone; do you have a magazine in your hand, watching TV; having a glass of wine; or something else?

Marisa Davis: Well, there’s definitely a cocktail involved, I can tell you that. (Laughs) But generally after work, I’m tethered to my phone, like most people. So after work I’m still checking my email; I’m on my phone. I’m toggling between the TV being on, cooking, maybe listening to music; a little Spotify streaming through my phone.

But after dinner, I really do try and make a conscious effort to power down, so we have a rule in our house that we don’t allow digital devices in the bedroom. And I’ve found that it’s helped me sleep better by making sure that I’m not on my phone or my tablet an hour before I go to bed. And really taking the time to be mindful, whether it’s reading a book or a magazine.

The other thing that we try to implement in my home, although it’s not always successful, is on Monday’s we try to do a media cleanse. This was actually inspired by some of this research, where I had read from a study that they brought CEO’s in for a five-day retreat and they asked them to put their phones down. So, for five days they didn’t have their phones and they found that they stood up straighter, they collaborated better, and they developed better relationships with each other than people who had their phones. So, every Monday night we try to put our phones away, turn the TV off and spend time together as a family.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Marisa Davis: (Laughs) Everything. I guess something that I find myself thinking about is I’m on the road a lot with this presentation, and especially when I’m on the road, I’m thinking about how well it will be received by people and finding that, in general, millennials are very receptive to this presentation because they exhibit the same behaviors that I do and the same attitudes and feelings personally towards their mobile and digital devices. And perhaps experience a bit of cognitive dissidence, because we work in the media industry.

And that’s something that I think about a lot; about how to speak to millennials about magazines, about buying magazines and about being part of a media campaign versus our own individual behaviors, as well as our aspirational behaviors. And again, that media cleanse, and how all of this is relating to the millennial audience.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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