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San Diego Direct Mail

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) worked with Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making to conduct a neuromarketing study. It focused on response differences to physical and digital media by the consumer. Neuromarketing is a rigorous scientific method that explores the consumer’s subconscious response. This is a more in-dept method than surveys. The findings are really interesting. To read the entire study click here.

The study looked at 3 buying process phases:

  • Exposure: How the body’s responded to an ad

  • Memory: How the brain remembers the ad

  • Action: What did they do in response to the ad

The results of the study showed that participants spent more time with the physical ads and remembered them better than the digital ones. The most important thing was that the physical ads triggered activity in the area of the brain (ventral striatum) that is responsible for value and desirability for featured products, which can signal a greater intent to purchase.

They used eye tracking with a camera and infrared technology to monitor eye movements, in terms of speed and duration of attention. Core Biometrics with sensors placed on fingertips to measure heart rate, skin sweat, motion, and respiration. Lastly they used, MRI  brain scans to measures changes in oxygenated blood flow to reveal regional activation during a task or experience.

Here are a few of the findings:

  • Self-reported survey results demonstrated little difference between participants’ preferences for or attitudes toward ads presented digitally or physically.

  • Participants chose to review physical ads longer than digital ads, but exhibited more focused attention on specific elements of the digital ads.

  • Physical ads had a longer lasting impact than digital. A week after the initial viewing, the emotional response and concrete memory of the physical ads allowed participants to more quickly and confidently remember the physical ads than digital ads.

  • Although participants stated similar preferences and willingness to pay for an item regardless of whether they saw the ad in a physical or digital format, their brain activity indicated greater subconscious value and desire for products or services advertised in a physical format.

The wonderful thing about direct mail is that it allows marketers to tap not only the physical attention and memory, but can be tied into digital forms as well to really increase response rates. One of the key takeaways from the study is that we need to know more about our recipients. If we can provide them with an experience that is created just for them, we can drive greater engagement, which will result in greater sales.


If you have any questions about direct mail, call us in San Diego at 619-448-6111 or email We are glad to help!

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