This research study set out to explore the relationship between content and platforms, specifically to examine the hypothesis that similar content can drive similar behaviour on different platforms.

It adopted a neuroscience-based methodology to move beyond what people say they do and gain a deeper understanding of what is really going on in their brains when they consume Times content on different platforms.

The research found that whilst there are some physical differences in how people access content on different platforms, there are a large number of similarities in terms of how they process content and how they respond to it.

Key Findings

  • Tablets are a more immediate experience, driving stronger levels of attention. Print is a slower burn experience, associated with stronger levels of engagement and emotional intensity.

  • Despite the differences, both print and tablet drive almost identical levels of long term memory encoding – a key measure with a strong correlation to subsequent purchase decision making.

  • Whilst static tablet ads are viewed for a much shorter period of time, they generate similar, or even slightly higher levels of memory encoding.

  • There is no discernible difference in attention levels associated with advertising appearing on the right hand page versus the left hand page.
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The research was conducted for News UK by two independent research companies (Neuro Insight and Decode Implicit Marketing) and used a multi-stage neuroscience-based methodology:

  • Neuroscience research – 150 Times readers (75 print/75 tablet) were researched in groups of 8. They were fitted with brain monitoring headwear and asked to read The Times on their preferred platform for 30 mins. Over that time, their brain responses were monitored on a second-by-second basis, generating 1.7 billion datapoints.

  • Qual research – A subset of readers were recruited to focus groups, using neuroscience findings as prompts for discussion to understand why they thought certain patterns had emerged.

  • Quant research – All respondents completed an exit questionnaire (n=150), capturing profile information and also asking them other recall-based questions.

  • Visual impact study – This is a mathematical tool, based on understanding of the human visual system, that predicts ‘bottom up’ attention i.e. what will attract the first 1-3 seconds of visual attention. In total, 40 different layouts were analysed.

Research was conducted in July/August 2014.

For more information, please contact the Insight Team at