How Many Advertisements Do We See Each Day?
I am appalled at the amount of marketing data being randomly asserted without any research backing it up. How many people has the Internet turned into babbling idiots looking for their 15 minutes of fame by citing arbitrarily inflated, shock-factor numbers?
This came to my attention again this weekend as I was reading a Tweet from a trusted marketing friend. He referenced a HubSpot blog post, “How to Use Storytelling to Cut Through the B2B Content Clutter.” (How’s that for a keyword-stuffed blog title? Lol) There’s a lot of interesting data in the infographic that goes with the article. But I became suspicious of all the data once I saw one data point that is way out of line. It said, “It’s estimated we see 5000 marketing messages per day.”
In putting together the data for my TEDx WPI talk, Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavioral Economics: Why Most People Don’t Get Marketing, I did a lot of secondary research, including on that very data point. From all the information I read, that 5000 number is a gross exaggeration and there is no primary research to back it up. To see the wide range of numbers, see this Google Answers post from 2002. Guesses range as high as 20,000 marketing messages per day.
Let’s look at this from the bottom up: If we assume we get about 8 hours of sleep each day, that leaves 57,600 awake seconds per day. To see 5,000 ads/branding messages per day, we would have to see one every 11.52 seconds.
Even if those ads/brands are within eyesight, the reality is our brains see very few of them. Our senses are bombarded with over 11 million bits of data every SECOND. The average person’s working memory can handle 40-50 bits, max. That means we ignore 10,999,950 bits of data every second we are awake.
So let’s be reasonable. I’m still researching the answer, but my best guess is we see 300-700 marketing messages per day, including the ad overload we get from the Internet and video gaming.
Stay tuned. I’ll be back with more data!