When Advertising is Just a Waste of Money

When I saw the recent cricket test match between India and England on TV in India, I was amazed at the level of commercial repetition I experienced. I decided to follow the announcements for an hour. Below are the points and the number of times it has been announced during the full hour.

As you can see, 17 different brands were announced during opening hours. These brands cover a wide range of products (e.g. Blenders Pride, CEAT, and Panasonic) and services (e.g. Amazon and McDonald’s), both nationally (e.g. Idea, Fogg and Kent) and worldwide (Ax, Google, and Suzuki brands). Of the 17 brands that advertised, 11 or nearly 65%   showed their ads three or more times, while Gionee, the Chinese mobile phone maker, showed exactly the same “creativity” seven times an hour!

Why so many repetitions? The theory is that the consumer’s response to repetition follows an inverted U shape. Initially, consumer response increases with repetition as the consumer learns more about the brand, but then diminishes as advertisements for a brand become increasingly boring and annoying. The degree to which the extra exposure has a negative effect depends on the complexity of the ad, the number of attention consumers pay to the ad, and so on.

Most laboratory studies, showing notifications to TV show participants during less than an hour’s delivery, conclude that the ideal impact is achieved with three exposures, which then diminish.

Change the channel

In a previous article, “For Zap or Not Zap: A Study of the Determinants of Channel Change during Advertising,” in Marketing Science, S. Siddarth and I found in the data field that incremental repetition negatively affects responses between 14 and 14. . vision. We show that consumers across all product categories tend to switch channels while watching TV when they watch a specific ad more than 14.5 times. We also showed that changing the channel negatively affects buying behavior. It is important to note that these results were obtained using a two-year data set. Our findings are consistent with other field data studies showing that recurrence has a negative effect on consumer responses, between 12 and 15 exposures in two months.

For those of you who don’t already own cricket, a cricket test day consists of three two-hour sessions. The above advertisements were repeated throughout the day. For example, 65% of the brands mentioned would be seen 18 times or more during the one-day exhibition of Gionee, the most published brand; there would be 42 exhibitions. During the five days of a cricket training game, an avid follower of the game watched 65% of the ads 90 times or more, and even the few advertised points, well above Gionee’s 15th exposure limit, would pass. The spectators of the test match were seen 210 times! Despite the proliferation of data, there are reasons for concern

Best exposure

The data on the search for recurring effects that I refer to in my article comes from North American consumers. One question to ask is:  are Indian consumers different? My intuition suggests they may not be that different. In my article, I found that at least the time an ad appears and the family’s demographics are unrelated to the family’s propensity to leave an ad, suggesting that nationality may not matter.

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