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The Neuroscience of Print

Studies have shown time and time again that print advertising is one of the most effective, if not the most effective form of advertising. The 2020 Magazine Media Factbook showcases that the Magazine Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) is easily the highest overall at $6.51, followed by TV at $3.23, followed by digital at $2.43. (The Association 12). Studies also show that magazines alone can drive ad sales (10), and as soon as you withdraw magazine advertising from your marketing strategy, your sales drop (13).


But most of these studies do not actually explain why magazines are such successful advertising tools. To understand the science behind why magazine advertising is more successful than TV and digital, requires an understanding of the neurological effects of print ads.


It is something that you may never think about, or even realize while you are flipping through a magazine. An article by Scott McDonald called “What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Why Print Magazine Advertising Works?” concludes that reading on paper is a slow and deeper exercise when compared to reading on a screen. The physicality of a print ad allows for clearer comprehension, sparking neural activity that is associated with desirability and reward, and heightening memory and comprehension. In the end, the result is a wonderful performance against important advertiser KPIs such as ad recall, brand consideration, and persuasion (McDonald 15). Ultimately this means that the effectiveness of print advertising may not be obvious in front of your eyes, but the key that allows magazine media to remain so influential is all a result of what is going on behind your eyes.




The Association of Magazine Media, 2020, pp. 1–96, Magazine Media Factbook 2020.

McDonald, Scott. “What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Why Print Magazine Advertising Works?” Nomos Research, Sept. 2015,