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How Many Times Must You See an Ad to Remember it?

How Many Times Must You See an Ad to Actually Remember it?

Advertisements on Times Square - Red Crow Marketing

They say it takes 7 times to make something a habit. But does this “Rule of 7” apply to the ads that surround us every day? How many times must we look at a billboard in traffic, scroll past a targeted post on Facebook, or hear the same catchy jingle before we digest and retain it? The scope of advertisements we see in just one day is fascinating. We know we encounter about 4,000-10,000 ads in our immediate surroundings- almost 500 before we even leave the house in the morning! The truth is that we don’t realize most ads are right in front of us until they tell us they exist. Often through strategic placement and relentless repetition.

So how many times must you see an ad to actually remember it? It really depends on a few factors like the individual viewing the ad, the content or message, and the time and place it’s viewed. But a good general rule of thumb is that it takes up to 5 views to read it, up to 10 views to become memorable, and up to 20 views to become a conversion.

What Matters More: Ad Frequency or AD Reach?

  • Ad Frequency

This amusing (and realistic) quote from historic London businessman, Thomas Smith, shows just how much ad frequency may be necessary for the average consumer to notice, retain, be convinced of, and purchase a product or service. You can find the full quote here, but a quick summary is as follows:

The first 4 times you see an advertisement, you hardly notice it – it’s just entering your radar.

The fifth time you see it, you finally read it.

The 6th – 8th times it appears, it starts to annoy you.

By the 9th time, you start to wonder if there’s maybe something to it.

Views 10, 11, and 12 prompts you to casually think about it. Maybe you ask a friend about it or do a quick scan through their website, and the rest is history.

By the 13th time you see an advertisement, the product or service is worth something.

In views 14-19 you slowly convince yourself to make a purchase and start saving for it.

By the 20th time you see the same advertisement, sold.

The psychology behind this is pretty straightforward. The brain needs clear, frequent messages to be stored in long-term memory. Once there, the brand has established recognition and is one step closer to a sale and brand loyalty. For example, anyone who’s paid any attention to advertising in Springfield MO, or the surrounding areas will know the phone number 777-7777 and what it represents. Effective ads like this and others combine the three main types of memory encoding: visual, acoustic, and semantic, to appeal to common memory cues. Music alone can help consumers recall 86% of words verbatim as opposed to 76% in spoken advertisements. The perfect storm of eye-catching visuals, audio that appeals to emotion, and message can make an ad truly memorable. Frequency just helps speed the process up a bit.

Person scrolling through social media ads- Red Crow Marketing

  • Ad Reach

Of course, the frequency of an ad doesn’t have much weight if it’s not reaching the right audience. Targeted advertising will tell your target demographic that you exist. And there are so many opportunities for that nowadays. Today, the term “ad” can mean a variety of different avenues. It can mean outdoor, print, or display advertising. It can also mean influencer posts, blogs, or referrals from friends. In a time where ‘TikTok strategist’ is a real job title, an ad’s reach is a priority and engagement is the end goal.

Why Repetition Still Relevant in Advertising

Person erasing memory in drawing -Red Crow Marketing

Unfortunately, after one hour, people retain less than half of the information presented.¹ With the tsunami of advertisements hitting us each day, we would be overwhelmed if we tried to retain every bit of information we encountered. Our brain tends to forget the small, insignificant details, and that’s okay. Remembering every message, sound, and experience would leave less room for more important information. This is why repetition is still an important strategy in advertising. With the product or service at the forefront of the average viewer’s mind, the chances of long-term retention drastically increase.

Stand Out with Expert Help

The rule of 7 may not apply to everything and everyone, but it can certainly help brands leave a lasting impression on the right audience. Red Crow Marketing has been a leading advertising agency in Springfield, MO for almost 20 years, helping businesses increase brand familiarity, gain consumer trust, and stand out from the competition. If you need assistance creating effective advertising campaigns, contact Red Crow Marketing for expert help both in Springfield Missouri.



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