Consumer Behavior/Psychology - Ad Frequency
When it comes to how many times an ad is seen before the consumer gets tired of it and ignores it, there is not a definitive answer. There are several theories and strategies that exist based on what has worked for advertising companies. These theories take into account the medium through which the ad is viewed, how often it is run, how long it is used by the company, and the type of product being advertised. For example, radio ads are most effective after three listens, but other ads can be viewed up to 10 times before consumers grow tired of them.
In the initial stages of an advertisement, it becomes more effective the more it is aired. However, there can come a point where return on an ad will start to diminish if it is overused. An explanation for this is the two-factor theory. This theory was developed by Daniel Berlyne in the 1970s. Basically, the two-factor theory revolves around two phases of advertisement: the wear-in phase and the wear-out phase. During the wear-in phase, customers become familiar with the product and comfortable with the brand. Once a consumer becomes very familiar with the ad, they will begin to tire due to seeing the same thing over and over. When this occurs, the wear-out phase begins, and frequency at which the advertised product is bought declines.
Other theories and statistics
Advertisements that are run online are statistically most effective when the consumer views them somewhere between five and nine times according to Nielsen. Another study shows similar data, but it suggests showing the ad even more. Researchers Schmidt and Eisend found that maximum consumer attitude is not reached until around 10 exposures. By this time, the consumer knows whether they want the product or not. They will be familiar enough with the ad that they will begin to notice how often they see it. This is the point where returns diminish.
For radio advertising to be effective, each consumer only needs to hear it about three times. A study concluded that to get a casual listener to hear the ad three times, it needed to be aired 21 times per week, which is three times a day. Listeners are likely to change stations once commercials begin, so the ad needs to be aired more often to get desired exposure.
Schmidt and Eisend also found that the type of item being advertised makes a difference as well. A common good like food should be advertised more often, while exclusive goods should be advertised less, as consumers will quickly grow tired of seeing them after just a few exposures.
Methods that can be used to keep an advertiser's effectiveness from being lost include ad rotation and recall. Ad rotation is achieved by running multiple ads at the same time, but making each ad's content different. Switching up visuals or dialogue for each ad will help keep the product from growing old. Recall is done by having an aspect of the ad stay the same. Once one ad is done airing, the next ad can be more recognizable if it has a similar object, slogan, or actor.
In conclusion, most advertisements can be taken in up to 10 times before growing old, but usually the consumer will usually be familiar enough with the product by then. Each company must find their own sweet spot in terms of how frequently an ad is run, as no magic number has been found yet.