Meetings No 20
A Congress is a Workplace
Atti Soenarso: Perhaps it is time to sharpen the tone.
Cover Story
All Under One Roof
Carin Kindbom: “The ‘all under one roof’ business approach is considered a key USP.”
While There’s Life, There’s Hope
Ever present words from the past.
Digital Mindset
AI and Robotics
Futurists: “Firms will need to strike a fine balance between AI and the human workforce.”
Safety and Security
CWT Global Forecast 2018
Security should be high on the planning agenda.
Brain Training
Sharp Brains on navigating brain training.
Business Events Must Adopt Olympic Safety Standards
Learn from previous Olympic events.
Clan vs State
The Clan Mentality is the Norm
Per Brinkemo on state and clan.
Sustainable Growth
The sustainability performance of 40 meeting and events cities.
Lunch With the Financial Times
An ­international “who’s who” of our time.
La Perle by Dragone
Emotions can be both a help and hindrance when creating a show.
AIME Launches Exhibitor Educational Series
Providing a deeper understanding of buyers.
Increasing Value of Meetings in Hamburg
Number of delegates visiting the city continues to grow.
60 Tips for a Stunningly Great Life
Robin Sharma on leadership.
Brain Check
Going Behind the Mind
Tomas Dalström on neuromarketing and digital vs. print advertising.
Where Event Design and Meetings Management Meet
Event quality is back on the table.
Van der Vijver
Locusts or Legacy?
Meeting designer Mike Van der Vijver: Bring the local community and the event community together.
Benny Andersson
On composition.
New Discovery on Memory Consolidation
Challenging a basic assumption about memory encoding.
The Saudi Arabian city of the future.
Obligations, Engagement and Legacy
Roger Kellerman: The word ‘obligation’ is high on the agenda.
up to €60,000 per event
Vienna announces €4 million meeting fund
to support local and international organisers, and hybrid events between 2021 and 2023.
1–3 June 2022
Comeback of the Urban Future Live Events
In the summer of 2022, Helsingborg invites the world to be a part of their H22 City Expo.
new position
CWT Appoints Michelle Mckinney Frymire as Chief Executive Officer
Incumbent Kurt Ekert will be stepping down and will take on the role of senior advisor to the company.
November 17-19 in Orlando
GBTA Announces New Dates
for 2021 Convention.
Austria Center Vienna Bags Coveted Gold and Silver Stevie Awards
Best B2C event and rapid testing lanes most valuable company response to the Covid-19 crisis category.
hotel news
First Radisson Individuals in the Baltics Opens Its Doors in Tallinn
Palace Hotel Tallinn is a monument of national architectural heritage built almost 100 years ago and respectfully renovated.
€300+ millions
The Economic Impact of Messukeskus Helsinki Melted By 80 per Cent
Pandemic damage radiates over the business life of the entire Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
sleep congress is awakening
World Sleep Congress 2022 to Be Held In Rome
EGA Worldwide Congresses & Events formally contracted as DMC service provider.
digital move
ICC Sydney Expands Broadcast and Hybrid Event Solutions with Media Studio
The studio features green screen technology which allows for visual integration of presenters into customisable background content.
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Going Behind the Mind

Digital advertising An interesting study shows that advertising on a computer screen or mobile display puts significantly more burden on the brain compared to printed advertising. The message comes across as more fragmented and the consumer risks missing it entirely. Added to this, the emotional transmission is weaker in digital communication and the reader forms a less emotional link with the brand.

Printed advertising The emotional arousal is greater on paper, the cognitive stress lower and the attention higher. “People can more easily focus on physical advertising.” This means that the brain can process more complex messages on paper. It is therefore possible to communicate longer and more detailed messages compared to digital communication.

Paper + digital The study shows that when “the consumer first sees the printed advertisement, the brand gets a strong, positive emotional response – as does the subsequent digital advertisement, which enhances the effect of the brand communication.” 1 + 1 = 3. If you do the opposite of digital first and then printed, you do not get this effect.

The findings are from the world’s first neuromarketing study. It was based on real brands and advertising campaigns and was carried out in Sweden and Denmark. A hundred Swedes looked at advertising from Ikea, Panduro Hobby, ICA, and Lindex and a hundred Danes looked at advertising from Ikea, Panduro Hobby, Super Brugsen and Plantorama. They looked at the same material in printed and digital form. It is considered a comprehensive study with this methodology.

The study was conducted by Neurons Inc, a consultancy with origins in Copenhagen Business School and Copenhagen University Hospital, market research specialist Ipsos, and Post Nord, who financed the study. The findings are consistent with previous studies, but are considered more reliable as the study used real brands. The trio investigated how advertising from different channels affects the brain, a subject of interest to all marketers. They used an eye movement camera to record what the subjects looked at, and EEG technology where electrodes are attached to the head to record brain activity at millisecond level. The subjects also answered some questions.

The basis of the study is that our motivation is linked to a future behaviour, “that is, if you are drawn to something, it is much more likely that you will act on it … High motivation is linked to a more positive feeling and has proven to be a reliable signal for purchase.” The study shows that too much information and stress makes it more difficult to feel high motivation. As a matter of interest, prior to the study, the subjects claimed to have a positive attitude towards digital advertising. But that did not tally with how they responded. “In other words, there is a difference between what consumers think they prefer and what their brains react strongest to. Differences that they are not aware of.”

The fact is that all the digital channels studied – advertisements, email and banners – showed an increase in cognitive stress, email and banners in particular. Cognitive stress can be triggered by the need to understand something and to succeed. Stress can also be triggered by social and physical factors and affect the performance of our working memory.

“This underlines the importance of simplifying digital communication to avoid information overload on consumers. Previous studies by Neurons Inc show that digital channels generally generate higher cognitive stress and therewith less emotional arousal.”

Why is the working memory important in this process? Imagine an hourglass. The upper part symbolises the information that comes into the brain through our external senses. This text, for example, is coming in through the eyes. From the eyes it passes on to the working memory in the narrowest part of the hourglass, from where it continues to the long-term memory at the bottom of the glass and fetches information stored there to enhance understanding.

The working memory is vital because it plays a part in almost everything you do during the day that requires a lot of brain work. It:

  • only has room for 7 ± 2 units
  • is continuously deleted and can only retain information for three to four seconds
  • is constantly filled
  • can only do one thing at a time.

Somebody has said that the working memory has space for only one telephone number, but not the area code. When entering a new phone number, you must memorise it quietly until you have entered the last digit. If somebody interrupts you while you are doing it, your working memory crashes when you reply. The telephone number is erased and when you need it again you will have to memorise it one more time. Note that we are only talking about a few digits …

To assess how easily we can absorb different types of information, neuroscientists measure our cognitive stress, i.e. how mentally stressful it is for us to understand something. If a message enters the brain rapidly (without the working memory crashing) and is easy to understand, the chances are that it will be stored in the long-term memory.

The working memory is one problem, scrolling another because it can also cause stress. Scrolling is namely the worst way to get through a text. You keep losing your way and get no overview. As soon as you know where you are in the text, you move it and lose your way again. The test with the eye movement camera showed that our gaze sweeps backwards and forwards to find where to start reading, says Gustaf Öqvist Seimyr, expert in Computational Linguistics and eye movement measurements at the Bernadotte Laboratory, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.

When you scroll, your attention moves from a block of text to a single sentence that you use as a marker to find your way. Every time you scroll, the pressure increases on your working memory. This results in lost focus, energy, time and reading rhythm. For example, it is twice as difficult to absorb information on a mobile phone than on a computer. You must scroll more because reading on a mobile is like looking through a keyhole where you only see small bits at a time. The less you see and the less that is explained, the more you must remember. Imagine stopping at a heading further down the page and beginning reading there. You see the name of a person mentioned before. If it were on printed paper you would just glance up to see who they were and then continue reading. On a mobile you must scroll up and when you are scrolling down again you must remember where you were and keep that information alive by repeating it. This is strenuous on our tiny working memory and it affects our reading comprehension.

The backlight is what makes it difficult to read properly on a computer screen, tablet or smartphone.

On a backlit screen the text shines brighter against the surroundings, it is brighter than what is behind the screen. This contrast is stressful on the eyes and brain.

A reflective screen with indirect light works the same as when we read from paper. We use light from the surroundings; a lamp or daylight. Reflective screens reflect as much light as the surroundings provide, meaning no great contrasts. This gives better readability generally and far superior readability in strong daylight.

All developers strive to create a digital reading experience that is as good as reading from paper. Because we use indirect light from the surroundings, paper reflects the same amount of light as the surroundings provide. There is less contrast. With paper advertisements, the emotional intensity, or cognitive stress, is lower and the attention higher. It is higher in all the elements studied: product, price, offers, logotype and ‘call to action’, so the medium you choose to read from has a great influence on the impact of the advertisement.

All marketers aim for their message to be stored in the reader’s brain. Understanding the way that the brain stores information is therefore vital in convincing people that their product is the best. Imagine a lump of plasticine. It symbolises the long-term memory. Somebody once said that the first time we do something it is like drawing a thin line in plasticine with your little finger. The next time the line gets deeper. The deeper the groove the easier it is for us to remember what we need to remember. This explains why brand builders and sellers of a product or service repeat the message over again.

Things we read or see during a day are stored temporarily in our lobus temporalis. These memories are moved to the long-term memory and programmed there during REM sleep. The brain processes memories that have a special significance for our future. It also programmes the emotions attached to each memory. The stronger the emotions the more important they are to you. This takes place during REM sleep and the emotions affect your choices. As an example, a visit to a restaurant with a friendly reception is valued higher than an unfriendly one. The probability of returning after a poor reception is naturally very small. This is a somewhat ingenious subconscious process that maximises things we like.

As stated earlier, the study shows that the emotional arousal is weaker on digital media than paper.

Some hints:

1For example, when reading a newspaper or browsing direct advertising, we are less stressed by the advertising message than when we browse a mobile or computer. The digital advertisement burdens the brain more, leading to reduced arousal. The message must therefore be kept short and sweet, especially if communicating via a mobile. As we know, it is twice as difficult to grasp information on a mobile phone than on a computer and reading comprehension is poorer on a computer than on paper.

2Digital advertising stresses the brain more and readers tire more quickly. Most manage to identify the product, but after that the arousal level sinks dramatically. Fewer than 50 per cent of readers look at the price, offers and call to action. Just one out of four notice sender logotypes on digital advertisements. The corresponding figures for printed advertising are significantly higher throughout. The solution is to focus on the key elements in the digital channels.

3Something that surprises many is the fact that the findings are universal, meaning they can be applied to any age and target audience. “Many think that communicating with young people in the digital channels gives a greater impact. But this study shows that physical communication provokes more motivation, emotional arousal and attention in all recipients, even the younger 18 to 30-year-olds. The explanation for the lower age limit is that by law we are not allowed to expose people under 18 years of age to advertising. But the result would have been the same even for them because they have the same brain as we older people, and it has not been updated for 40,000 years.

Millennials – people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s – do not react any differently than older people.” Of all the findings from Behind the Mind, that one is probably the most unexpected. It shows that younger people prefer the physical form of marketing. Yes, they live a digital lifestyle in a digital world, but it means they have become accustomed to sifting out digital advertisements.

All quotes are from Behind the Mind unless otherwise specified.