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Advertising: Does Ad Frequency Affect Results?

Updated on February 13, 2019
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker with over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, advertising, and public relations.


I love beer commercials. Some of the ads are the most original, entertaining and funny broadcast advertising I've seen. And because I watch a lot of sports programming, I see a LOT of beer commercials.

But there's just one problem for the beer advertisers. I will NEVER, EVER buy their products no matter how much I like their ads or how frequently I see them. Why? Because I cannot stand drinking beer.

Repetition can increase reputation and recognition. But repetition does not automatically increase sales.

Actually, there are two other factors that come into play when deciding how frequently to run an advertisement:

  • Placement. If an advertisement is not being seen by the target market demographic, increased repetition just wastes money. The beer example illustrates, although I would say that I'm in the minority in the sports watching market segment.
  • Audience. Listeners or watchers of certain marketing media have higher tolerances for ad repetition than others. For broadcast advertising, audiences have come to expect frequent commercial breaks (although that tolerance is shrinking with ad skipping technologies). Ads on some social media streams may not be tolerated at all.

Frequency versus Impressions

What constitutes an ad? Not all "advertising" can be neatly categorized as a television, radio or magazine commercial. What about promotional giveaways or other branded items? They're representing a company's brand, but it would be difficult to classify it as a commercial.

Some of these non-advertising promotion tools may be measured in potential impressions, how many people have potentially observed it and how many times it likely has been observed. For example, a promotional calendar may have an estimated 365 annual impressions if it is viewed daily. Similarly, a sponsor's welcome banner at an event might be viewed by all attendees.

In these situations, advertisers (or sponsors) usually seek to maximize the number of potential impressions by purchasing more places on which to put their logos and other branding elements.

So impressions can be a type of advertising frequency even though they are not in the traditional commercial advertising format.

Frequency versus Placement

Whether considering traditional advertising or impression-based promotions, placement is the most important decision factor.

However, placement is not enough. Frequency is the next most critical factor. This is why one-shot Super Bowl commercials may fail to produce sales. Yes, it may be the right audience (although because so many people watch the game, the audience is not really well segmented). Yes, it may be seen by millions of people. And, yes, many people love the commercials more than the game (an entirely other advertising problem!). But if this is the only venue in which the audience will see a business' advertising, the ad could be a wasted investment.

Target demographics need to see the ad multiple times in the same media to begin to even recognize either the ad, what is being advertised or the advertiser. What is that magic number of times? More than one might think! Why? Because people are distracted and may not observe every instance of the ad's placement. Several ad placements may be needed for a viewer to even see and remember an ad once!

Advertising repetition helps build recognition and reputation.

— Heidi Thorne

What Advertisers Really Want

There is no doubt that the frequency and placement of can affect advertising results. Of course, what is offered must also be perceived as valuable to the target audience. Through the combination of product, placement and frequency, advertisers are really seeking one thing: top of mind awareness for when a need arises.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Heidi Thorne


Submit a Comment
  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi rajan jolly! Very true that it's a fine line between what works and what would be considered excessive. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Have a lovely day!

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    I always thought along the same lines Heidi about ad frequency affecting sales but it is tight rope walk when specific audiences have to be targeted.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hello Chitrangada Sharan! I have to agree that I love some commercials as much as the shows they support. :) You're not alone in the Internet ad distraction. But websites gotta pay the bills. BTW, just saw an article that Google may be launching a service where users can pay to NOT see ads on sites. Watch for developments on that. Thanks for stopping by and have a beautiful weekend!

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 

    5 years ago from New Delhi, India

    Very interesting and thought provoking hub!

    I love ads on T.V. but I never get carried away by them. Some of them are so catchy that they become an important part of our life.

    But somehow I find ads on Internet very distracting and rarely click on them. Perhaps the advertisers should keep in mind your suggestions!

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 years ago from Chicago Area

    That is hilarious, FlourishAnyway! You should send the accident lawyer and plumber bills for the additional advertising your singing little sweetheart provided. :) But I have to admit that as I'm penning this comment, the jingle for one of our local home remodeling groups is today's earworm. Always appreciate your kind and fun comments! Happy Wednesday!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    5 years ago from USA

    Some of the local advertising jingles in my area are really catchy because they are homegrown enough to have the name of the business in the song and hokey enough to get your attention. When my daughter was a toddler she'd sing along with a local accident lawyer's ad and one from a plumber. It's definitely top of mind should I ever need those services.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi suzettenaples! Many advertisers even forget the placement piece of the puzzle. :) Glad you found it interesting. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 

    5 years ago from Taos, NM

    This is an interesting and informative hub on advertising. I never stopped to think about it, but advertising placement with a particular audience would sell faster than just the number of times an ad is seen. I love the ads for the Super Bowl because they are so unusual and that also makes me remember them. Thanks for sharing your advertising knowledge with us.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi anglnwu! It is so, so true and, surprisingly, I see ads pitched to the wrong audience all the time. Thanks for chiming in and have a great weekend!

  • anglnwu profile image


    5 years ago

    You're right - advertisements should be used wisely on target audience. Pitching repeatedly to the wrong audience may be wasted efforts. Thanks for sharing.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi Iris! I think all of us wonder about how much (or little) to advertise. I would also like to have some input from the advertisers on how their HP campaigns work for them. Since HP has a CPM model, it may be a cost effective avenue. Thanks for stopping and have a wonderful week!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 years ago from Chicago Area

    Happy Monday, AliciaC! Yes, even writers need to be aware of how advertising can affect their writing success. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 years ago from Chicago Area

    Indeed they are, GreenPrince! Business folks need to do some form of advertising for growth. Glad you agree. Thanks for stopping by and chiming in!

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Ads are the gateway to successful business and learning how to effectively reach out to people out there is necessary in order to move to the next level we want.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    This is interesting information to think about for businesses and for writers trying to promote their work. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Iris Draak profile image

    Cristen Iris 

    5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

    Good info, Heidi. I've been considering this very thing and how ads can payoff here on HubPages.


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