Commentary

Advertisers At Risk Of Consumer Burnout

Do you believe in ad burnout -- a state in which consumers feel complete overload? How many ads are too many, how do advertisers solve the problem, and what percentage of those campaigns actually prove successful?

Perception is everything. So what happens when a brand serves so many ads that the consumers starts to get annoyed? Industry insiders continually talk about nirvana in cross-channel advertising, but what happens when the continual retargeting gets to the breaking point?  

Too many ads can certainly hurt a brand's reputation. Even with all the sophisticated technologies like programmatic, dayparting, and targeting across desktop or mobile to television, ad tech still lacks intelligence. 

I cannot speak for everyone. I can only speak about what's going on in my household through cable provider Spectrum, formerly Time Warner, television and Internet service.

At breakfast Sunday morning, my husband said to me, "your buddies are at it again." "My buddies?" I responded.

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"Yes, your advertising buddies."

"What did they do this time?"

"They keep bombarding me with the same ad on TV and it's getting me annoyed," he said.

We have been searching for information on different types of wood-like tiles on Bing and Google. Most of the organic and paid-search links click through to products on Home Depot's or Lowes' Web sites. It took about a week for the cross-targeting to begin, but when it did we began to repeatedly see ads for the same searched-on products at Home Depot or Lowe's for a variety of Spectrum cable television channels.

Media Dynamics President Edward Papazian says it's "very common to see the same ad repeated on the same channel every half hour or more, often on a given day, and certain shows are vastly oversaturated with redundant ads." He suggests spreading out the buys, so the ads can appear on a less frequent basis per viewer reached.

"Advertisers should bear in mind the wastage and other pitfalls that over exposure implies, especially when allocating their brand ads to cable buys," he said.

Interestingly, Papazian, a former media research director at BBDO, said that while it is a generally accepted theory that marketers need to expose consumers with between five and seven TV ads to get their message across, there is no way for advertisers to know whether they achieve the goal. "They have no audience data that tells them whether consumers are watching commercials," he said. "Our estimate is that about 45% of the time, when commercials are on the screen, the 'viewer' is not even in the room or paying attention."

Therefore, he said, it really takes about 1,300 Nielsen gross rating points (GRPs) to get 700 true commercial minute GRPs, which might be construed as a 7 frequency per viewer -- the number of times each person in a household is exposed to the advertisement.

For consumers to see the correct number of ads, sometimes advertisers need to overexpose viewers to come close to the desired frequency levels among moderate to somewhat lighter viewers.

"Once enough people are aware of a brand's message, it is important to reinforce this from time to time, so additional flights of ads are laid on, often using 'pooled' commercials with new scenarios but the same message, to mitigate the effects of redundancy," Papazian said.

Papazian thinks TV viewers get angry at "commercial clutter in a break to a far greater extent than to seeing a particular ad too often, although poorly crafted 'dumb' ads may be an exception."

In this scenario, another brand and retailer ended up with the purchase -- not because how the searches led to a bombardment of television ads -- but just because it our preference led us to a different brand and retailer. We still continue to see the ads online and on television, which is another topic of tying attribution to searches all on its own. 

4 comments about "Advertisers At Risk Of Consumer Burnout".
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  1. brad berger from aim high tips, January 16, 2017 at 5:27 p.m.

    Not only is there ad burn out but people are also experiencing buying burn out. The greatest consuming generation baby boomers have had it with purchasing. No more presents - thank you but no more. People have enough of everything they cannot use or get rid of. Less is now the new more. BF Schumacher and the simplicity people were correct. Cave people were correct a few wheels and some fire and a good cave is what we need. 

  2. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, January 17, 2017 at 3:01 p.m.

    Ed nice quote  "They have no audience data that tells them whether consumers are watching commercials," 

    You have confirmed Nielsen and broadacst TV ads are just shooting darts.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 17, 2017 at 4:31 p.m.

    Thanks, LZ. But don't blame Nielsen as it is virtually impossible to research what an audience is "watching" on a second by second basis, or even for 30 seconds. The same is true for all media, including digital, with its phoney "page views". Until every consumer is somehow hooked up with some sort of camera system that records where their eyes are focused whenever they are "exposed" to a screen or ad page, ad audiences just can't be measured and even then there are those who will claim that "eyes-on" research is flawed unless you have samples of tens of millions---which, of course, is impossible from a practical  point of view.

  4. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct, January 18, 2017 at 2:17 p.m.

    Great article and solid comments from Ed. Two things struck me:

    First, while ads in streamed content are beginning, streaming has two big downfalls. The first is there's no way to skip through ads (unlike my time delayed TiVO view). The second is that demand seems to be so low that ad repetition in streamed content is massively irritating. How many times do I need to see THAT Chevy commercial? Perhaps demand will grow. We'll see.

    Second, when I read the title, my gut reaction is to conned "ad burnout" with the general burnout from being bombarded with advertising everywhere online and everywhere we go. Fly through O'Hare? Get ready to be bombarded with commercial noise. Accidentally look at a specific hat on Amazon? Get ready for months of hat advertisements everywhere you look online.

    In that perspective, TV seems to be a relatively simple and relaxed ad environment compared with how the rest of our world has turned into a constant bombardment by carnival barkers.

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