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How many advertising messages is the average consumer really exposed to each day?


Tokyo NeonHow many advertising messages is the average consumer really exposed to each day? There are figures ranging from a few hundred upwards, but the consensus seems to be about 3,000. I’m interested in finding out an accurate statistic because it’s a figure I like to quote when I’m arguing the relevance of word of mouth marketing in a world of advertising saturation.

One day this summer I’m going to count. I suspect I wouldn’t usually get near 3,000 because I don’t watch much TV or listen to any commercial radio, but in the interests of research I will find out exactly how much commercial TV and radio the average consumer does listen to each day and expose myself to precisely that amount.

I’m not going to go to work as I normally would, but I will make the normal commute across The Valley and back and try and behave in the same way as I would on an average day. The result wont be qualitative of course, but it will be a good indication.

I will also need some rules. They will be as follows:

  • Visible logos count. The logo on my watch, the logo on my phone, the logo on my fridge, the logo on my knife and fork. They are there to advertise.
  • Hidden logos (inside the tag on a shirt for example) don’t count. They aren’t there to advertise.
  • Product placements on TV and radio shows count.
  • I will use a click-button counting system like those traffic-watching people use, to ensure accuracy.
  • I will not attempt to go out of my way to remember or write down any ads I saw, unless I would ordinarily do so because I needed to.
  • Banner ads count.
  • Spam counts.
  • I won’t go out of my way to look at ads. On my bookshelf for example, there is a logo for each publisher on the spine. I could look at my bookshelf and be ‘exposed’ to hundreds of logos at once, but that would count because I’m not really taking them in.
  • The day after I do my count, I will then write a blog post listing all the ads I can actually remember and in what detail.

Any other ideas for rules?

Anyone want to bet how many advertising messages I’ll end up being exposed to? I’m guessing 1,000.

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4 Responses to How many advertising messages is the average consumer really exposed to each day?

  1. Nathan Bush says:

    I think you’ve covered all bases – would be interesting to see the difference if you did it in a regional area vs a metro, or weekday vs weekend, or functioning vs hungover. Can you please tell me the day you are doing it? I may hang around yelling out random numbers.

  2. Camiel says:

    Thanks for rubbing in that it’s summer at your side of the globe 🙂

    I think your first rule will absolutely drive you mad before 11 AM.

  3. Hi Matt,

    This will be interesting. 3,000 is the number often thrown around, but I believe that this was from some research well over 10 years ago. How will you count those ads that you are exposed to, but don’t consciously process?

    This info may help to structure your day, but do you think you’ll be able to put up with 3-hours of commercial TV crap?
    “In a typical week during 2007, the average Australian adult spent 21 hours and 46 minutes watching television, according to Roy Morgan Research. This was 47 per cent greater than the time spent listening to the radio, 146 per cent more than time spent on the Internet, 545 per cent more than time spent reading newspapers and 1,068 per cent more than time spent reading magazines.”

    Good luck – looking forward to reading about your day!

  4. Thanks Peter, that research is useful; very useful. I won’t count ads that I don’t consciously process because they can’t really count if I’m not conscious of their presence.

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