We see and hear a lot of advertising messages every day.

If you try to look for a definitive number as to how many, you’ll get answers that vary from about 1,500 up to 5,000 advertisements per day. What’s not arguable is the volume of advertising has gone up with the sheer number of media options and outlets. One research study from Yankelovich estimated that a person living in a city in 1977 saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared with up to 5,000 ad messages 30 years later.

We’ve got ad clutter. We’ve known about it for a while. And there are endless discussions as to how you make your ad heard through the noise.

It got me thinking about the classic study that’s done with all advertising, and that’s your ability to recall an ad you’ve seen or heard.

I was watching a football game last night and I can’t recall one add I saw during it. Mostly because I have a TiVo and I fast forward through the ads by purposely being a little behind in the game, or when I’m caught up I mute the sound during the commercials, or pause the TiVo. Similarly, I never see the ads on my favorite non-live programs either.

Also, this morning, when I drove into work I’m sure I passed by a ton of billboards, the same ones I pass by every day. I think one of them had to do with Chase Bank, but I’m not sure.

Marc Maron interviewing on WTF Podcast

Marc Maron interviewing on WTF Podcast

Conversely, I can tell you who the sponsors are of most of the podcasts I listen to. For example:

  • Adam and Eve, Audible, and Stamps.com sponsor the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron.
  • Audible sponsors Never Not Funny with Jimmy Pardo.
  • Carbonite sponsors This Week in Tech.

The reason I can remember these sponsors is because the hosts do an in-show advertisement that is not copy written for them, which is what DJs at radio stations had to do. In the cases of the aforementioned podcasts the hosts turn their sponsorships into content for the show. That in turn makes the advertisements memorable. That’s why I can tell you what they are. I remember the stories or jokes they told when they were talking about the sponsors.

Not all podcasts do this. Some insert the same advertisement that appears on all the shows. Some do a very long bed of commercials and I purposely advance past them. But the shows that actually turn the sponsorship into some actual content, in other words let the host, for whom I’ve developed an attachment to, create the ad content, then I as a listener am predisposed to pay attention to what they say, even if it is ultimately an advertisement. If they can make it informative and entertaining, that’s all I care about as a listener.

I can’t say I have become consumers of these products, but I can say that the messages are memorable to me and I have repeated them.

Wouldn’t it be more effective if we turned sponsors ads into show content? Can you do that without ruining the editorial integrity of the programming? For talking heads that just talk about their day, it seems easy, but for dramas, news, and pre-written programming, is it possible?

Photo courtesy of Marc Maron of WTFPod.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Robjewitt.