Select Page

People don’t remember

One of the rules of thumbs of media is that people need to see an advertisement in print at least 3.5 times. The reason that stuck is because of the point5.
I am not sure what point5 of an ad view is, but that’s the way it goes with statistics. If people don’t see the ad 3.5 times it won’t register with them, and they won’t have any recall. If you spend less, it won’t register.  The point of telling you this factoid is so that you can understand the expense and basic effort of attaining a slight measure of recall. The bad news is that people forget as well. The recall of 3.5 views will be fleeting.

People live in a mental environment that is extremely cluttered.  Media operations will tell you a bit about media clutter. What this means is that your advertisement will share a platform with a huge number of advertisements that compete for audience attention. But there is another dimension to the clutter.
People’s minds are not focused on advertising only. For instance, during the time evening time normally allocated to watching television, they may also be talking to partners and children, making supper, thinking about the coming day, and they will definitely be thinking about the show which contains the advertisement. Your message has to cut through all of that, at least 3,5 times to be remembered, in terms of the anecdotal evidence above.
However the mental landscape is changing. Firstly the clutter has increased due to internet usage This involves standard internet and particularly mobile internet and social networking, all of which are packed with messages. You can get a sense of the scope of this by watching the use of mobile devices in your physical social circle. Two years ago mobile device usage was not particularly common. Today the device is so ubiquitous, it is even used during conversations, as a parallel to the physical conversation. This happens in workplaces, in family gatherings and in social get-togethers.  People also use them when they are on their own. This next bit is very important, so read it slowly and carefully. A new phenomenon called ‘popcorn brain’ is emerging. (You can Google it.) There are two factors that you need to understand.  
Firstly use of the internet is rapid and repetitive, aimed at enjoyment or need satisfaction through the release of dopamine, so you cannot easily or confidently rely on one opportunity to expose your message. Your message has to appear pervasively and has to provide the greatest possible level of gratification. Secondly and most interestingly the brain structures responsible for memory are atrophying instead of developing mass, and leaving gaps with a similar appearance to popcorn, when brains are scanned.
What this appears to point to is that humans are becoming reliant on external memory storage. That is an interesting evolutionary trait, which has yet to be properly assessed as far as I can tell. There is some talk about a cure for internet addiction, but the genie is out of the bottle and a cure for internet addiction does not seem feasible.
In terms of media it means that people will rely on finding the message or information where and when they need it, and they won’t take steps to remember it, other than a tenuous link to the location.
In this emerging paradigm, the information has to be highly relevant to the need (targeted by content), change rapidly and regularly to hold interest, and the route to the information has to be very visible (targeting comes into play again). This will challenge Namibian media planners as there are limited opportunities to target in traditional media. The upside of this is that there are a large number of opportunities in social media that are extremely cost effective and that can reach people in a targeted manner through the use of esoterica such as local demographics, key words and SEO.
All it takes is a bit of exploration of the opportunities and experimenting with targets and strategies.


About The Author