The Reality of Ad Clutter

Susan Gerard, here. I am a minimalist and don’t like clutter, so when I see headlines stating, “Studies show, that on average we see 3,000 ads per day,” as the media frequently reports, it stresses me out. Really? Do these people live in Times Square, or do I need to get out more often? I’m in advertising so I continually pay attention to the commercial messages around me, but at most, I guesstimate that I “see/hear” 150 ad messages/day– possibly 200 if you count whining requests from my kids.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies reports that over the years the estimates are all over the board, per the following from their White Paper, How Many Advertisements is a Person Exposed to in a Day?

In 1965 Charles F. Adams estimated that the average American is exposed to a minimum of 560 advertisements in a 16-hour period. This is based upon them reading one and a half newspapers, half a magazine and one piece of direct mail, and listening to 2.3 hours of radio and watching 3.8 hours of TV. (Eight-ish hours? I don’t get to consume that much media, even when I’m on vacation!)

In 1972 the Journal of Advertising Research laid out all available media usage data they had and concluded the average male to be exposed to 285 ads a day, and the average female, 305. Another study that year found similar numbers, but detailed results further based upon a person’s demographic make up.

In 2010, a comScore Ad Matrix report cited by Media Dynamics states the average Internet user is likely exposed to about 65 Internet ads a day. Media Dynamics estimates that on average only 15- 20% of Internet display ads are noted.

To get total ad exposure/day in today’s digital world, I would argue that the time online is replacing the consumption of other, message-laden traditional media. Yes, we should account for ads where they typically were not before, bathroom stall doors, grocery store floors and carts, mobile phones, etc., but even if a person had eight hours/day to be either online, I would argue we’re still no where near 3,000 messages/day!

The reality is that the number of ads you’re exposed to a day varies greatly based upon your demographic profile. For myself, I would guesstimate approximately 325 total exposures per day:

    150 ads in traditional media (print, radio and TV)
    75 Internet ads
    50 ads on my Iphone apps, on TVs, carts, floors or stalls of stores
    50 requests from my kids

Additionally, the number you “see” depends upon your psychographic profile and the timing and placement of the ads. At Gerard Marketing Group, we understand that and why it’s so important to recognize the key consumer insights of your target and plan your messaging to be in the right place, at the right time with a compelling message.

That is the challenge we love to tackle at Swell no matter who the target and how cluttered their world is. Tell Gerard Marketing what you think and let us know if we can help.

Wishing you a prosperous, Swell New Year!