Advertising: How many marketing messages do we see in a day?

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How-Many-Ad-Messages-Blog-ArtHow many marketing messages do we see in a day? That’s a loaded question because people who should know better have been quoting guestimates for the last 15 years, including the one from Yankelvich Research (later quoted by the NY Times), that range from 3,000 to 20,000. Those higher numbers include every time you pass by a label in a grocery store, all the ads in your mailbox whether you see them or not, the label on everything you wear, etc.

One of the sanest studies I came across said we see 247 images per day and probably don’t notice half of them even though we’ve been exposed. The fact that you and the message are in reasonable proximity for you to see it doesn’t mean you saw it. Our brains can’t truly process that many messages. We can’t notice, absorb, or even judge the personal merit of 3,000 visual attacks a day.

The right message can link with our own desire or interest and get us to stop and look at it, watch it, or listen to it. An ad message that informs us about something we want will get noticed. If you’re lusting after a new, hot, American-made sports sedan, the Cadillac CTS TV, print, outdoor, or radio ad will catch your attention. The Ford pickup ad won’t register on your radar. So who cares if you saw it or not?

Look at Times Square, for example. That has to be the densest concentration of buy-me messages on the planet. I’m guestimating myself, but I would think that if you stood on the top of the bleachers by the B’way ticket office in Times Square and slowly turned around while counting every ad on every DiamondVision, doorway, cab, bus, billboard, light pole, building, sandwich board, hawker, and flyer you’d come up with no less than 500 messages. That’s 20 minutes of overload in a perfect storm of advertising. But we don’t look at ads that way. We skim to see what speaks to or connects with our core wants, desires, and values. That’s why engagement is such a hot topic in marketing today.

A good campaign doesn’t just offer the right product to the right consumer. It gets them emotionally stimulated to buy or at least investigate the advertised product or service. Why go to that next level? Why expend the time and effort to craft an advertising message that informs and ignites a bond between the product or service and the target consumer? Because the competition is stiff regardless of what category you’re in. And the rest of the ad space is frustratingly distracting.

Let Fluid Drive Media craft your next connection with your target audience.

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David is an award-winning creative, media, and brand strategist. He founded Fluid Drive Media to provide the best online, offline, and bottom line creative and media solutions to his clients. Drawing on over 25 years of regional, national and international communications and marketing experience, David leads the firm's client engagement team, providing senior-level strategic counsel and branding expertise. His broad background gives him a one of a kind strategic understanding of the dynamics of business marketing. David has designed and delivered successful campaigns for clients including Sears Home Improvement, CSX, Sony, Six Flags, Career Builder, A#1 AC, and more.

3 Comments to “Advertising: How many marketing messages do we see in a day?”

  1. David, I am glad you took the plunge to bring some sense to the widely exaggerated number we have seen flying around these past years.
    What I like about your post is that you also mention that many if not most of the ads we see we don’t even register consciously, so how can we measure them? Their impact of course, but that’s another topic.
    Thanks for your thought provoking article.

    • Chuck Wintner says:

      As Paul Newman tells Robert Redford in The Sting, after Redford looks outside and reports he doesn’t see any hit men, “It’s the ones you don’t see that kill you, kid.”

      Ditto the “unseen” advertising that we pay no attention to. Yet through contact with our senses, it penetrates our unconscious, where its impression of promise of fulfillment of desires far deeper than thirst will remain for all time, to be recalled at, who knows when. Every Coke logo we see in the flick of an eye, reinforces Coke’s long-nurtured image that’s likely deep within all of us, Coke drinkers or not. The collective image of all Coke advertising we’ve ever seen or heard or consumed, is embodied in its logo. Well-publicized studies given to supermarket customers with 6-packs of Coke in their carts, showed that in a bling taste-test, more of them chose Pepsi than Coke, reported Malcom Gladwell, but even after learning of their choice, still would not exchange their cartons of Coke for Pepsi.

      Other studies showed that people with wide support for one set of political positions over another, often chose the opposite candidate from the one who represented them. Even after learning of that, very few would change their candidate. Their feeling for the candidate was their reason.

      The feeling we develop for a product or brand or candidate drives all of us more deeply than we want to believe. Logic seems to have little to do with why we do what we do, at least in how we spend money and vote. Sad, but scientifically validated.
      Chuck Wintner
      Former commercial producer, now school psychologist

  2. [...] uncommon or highly visible objects isn’t a new concept. Fluid Drive Media posted a statistic on their blog that the average person sees 3,000 to 20,000 ads a day. While some ads are hardly noticeable, such [...]

  3. Helen Kaar says:

    Perhaps you and the folks who count every label as an advertisement are really talking about different things. The proliferation of commercial verbiage creates a texture, an atmosphere that we all inhabit whether we are consciously aware of it or not. In a hail of bullets, you may pay the greatest attention to the ones that hit directly, but whether they hit or not, a barrage is a barrage. You still have to duck and take cover.

    Our unconscious absorbs over 11 million bits of information every waking second, while we are aware of something like 2.8 – 40 bits depending on how you’re counting. I am not prepared to conclude that everything you’re unaware of doesn’t affect you and has no importance. At the very least, everything you absorb takes energy. I’d like that energy to go into processing things of depth, quality and meaning. Standing in a great cathedral feels different from standing in Times Square. Savoring a good dinner with friends feels different from eating takeout while standing at the kitchen counter. What surrounds you, like everything you ingest, matters.

  4. [...] average, a person receives 3,000- 20,000 commercial message per day. Among all this noise,  it’s hard out there for an advertiser to [...]

  5. [...] we like it or not, we live in a world of advertising.  We see thousands of ads and branding messages everyday.  Some of the brands in my field of vision just this morning were Dove, Colgate, Gillette, Post, [...]

  6. [...] short attention spans (like 7 seconds on a webpage), and are bombarded by advertising every day (estimates vary widely).  So when you have anybody’s attention, you better damn well use it wisely. And the more [...]

  7. [...] logos, commercials and digital advertising, some studies suggest we’re hit with as many as 20,000 ads every day. We’re getting talked to death from every direction. So selective hearing has not only become a [...]

  8. [...] to this post from Fluid Drive Media, we received between 3,000 to 20,000 messages each [...]

  9. [...] ultimate challenge when designing your flyer is to make it memorable. It is thought we see 247 images a day (although this could be much more) and we would do well to remember even 20% of these images. Those [...]

  10. [...] the hundreds or thousands of ads we are exposed to everyday, our attention span continues to drop, and arguably, has always [...]

  11. [...] marketing is becoming increasingly important to marketers. Being that we are bombarded by nearly 3,000 marketing messages a day, there’s no way to know which platform will get us to bite. The best bet for marketers is to [...]

  12. [...] Now take into account that the average person sees well over 200 marketing messages a day. Some studies even allege we see up to 20,000 messages.  [...]

  13. [...] people make this sound, we already live in a world where wherever we gaze we gaze at ads. Some have estimated that we see from 3,000 to 20,000 marketing messages a day, and the sanest study estimates it to [...]

  14. [...] today’s society of information overload consumers and making quicker and quicker decisions and that is effecting their experience of your [...]

  15. [...] hand, this world consists of a constant clash of ideas, messages and millions of mini-communities. (It has been estimated we are exposed to 3,000 to 20,000 marketing messages a day!) The question then remains – is [...]

  16. [...] In the past few years, I have given up cable television because, like most people, I hate being bombarded constantly with commercials. I mean, really. Turn on your television now and compare the amount of time dedicated to advertisements and the amount of time featuring the content you actually want to watch. According to TNS Media Intelligence, an hour-long television show is 36% advertisements. [...]

  17. […] Marketers deal with this dilemma in a different way – people are exposed to so much marketing that they become great at tuning it out. It should come as no surprise given that we are exposed to 5,000 and 20,000 marketing messages everyday. […]

  18. […] is some sort of advertisement trying to persuade you to buy this, vacation here, or watch this. Research says that the average person sees between 6,000 and 20,000 forms of advertisements per day. You may be thinking no way, but think about it. In a day and age where social media is more of a […]

  19. […] is what keeps us competitive and in touch with a rapidly-changing environment. In a world where consumer eyes and ears are bombarded by more marketing messages than ever before, standing out means shaping and sharing a remarkable […]

  20. […] to fluid drive media, an average person see’s 247 images per day. It is safe to say that a single image is interpreted […]

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