Consumer Advertising Fatigue and Solutions for Brands to Run Successful Ad Campaigns

Stephen Rapier

Everywhere you go and look, consumers are swamped by ads that tell them to buy this, watch this, subscribe today, and how the product can improve their life. The digital world opened doors for new advertising tactics to expose consumers to more ads. In 2021, the average person is estimated to see between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every day – and consumers are increasingly becoming ad fatigued. With the internet, social media, streaming services, digital advertising, and traditional advertising tactics, consumers are being bombarded with ads. And marketers and advertisers must ask themselves, how successful are the ads?  

A recent consumer survey found that 3 out of 4 social media users think there are too many ads and dislike them. I myself have grown tired of seeing the same ads over and over on my streaming service. In fact, the ad began to annoy me and after seeing the ad several times I wanted nothing to do with the brand or product. With consumers seeing thousands of ads every day, brands must ensure their ads stands out, mitigate the negative perceptions, and drive successful results. 

As society has navigated through the COVID pandemic, we all experienced changes to our lifestyles. Marketers and advertisers need to take these changes into account and acknowledge how different the industry will be in the post-COVID world.   

One area of the ad industry that saw increases was connected TV – and this segment is prone to ad fatigue. According to a study published by Statista, “binge-viewing” multiple episodes of a television series or movies in one sitting is more common.  As a result, consumers often must endure sitting through advertising spots repeated throughout each episode – which can be less effective advertising tactic. Marketing and advertisers can avoid ad fatigue with three new tactics: 


Know your customers and their behaviors. 


Binge watching is a new behavior that marketers and advertisers must consider with their advertising campaign. A Schmidt & Eisend Study (2015) found that an ideal number of impressions needed to achieve advertising’s objectives ranged from 5-10 over a set period of time, such as a month. 

However, they notably found that the growth curve of awareness and positive attitudes fueled by impressions became an inverse U in which perceptions were negatively affected as the target market became fatigued with the same message over, and over, and over again. As such, while the target market was highly aware of the campaign, its awareness turned negative thereby impairing any positive result the advertiser was seeking.


Create a tiered approach in which multiple creative concepts are incorporated into the campaign over time. 


For instance, in terms of radio advertising, multiple 60-second radio spots should be recorded as part of a campaign. Similarly, an effective search engine marketing strategy on Google should incorporate not just three key words and one ad, but a pool of key words and corresponding ads that will rotated in response to a specific key word search. Brands can also create multiple ads that share the same message. 

For example, Nike’s Just Do It ads show marathon runners, soccer players, and other sport enthusiasts using their products and run a variety of commercials during the same time.

Lately, Chick-Fil-A launched a series of commercials for their #thelittlethings, which offer multiple creatives that often run within the same hour. These successfully help against consumer ad fatigue and keep the consumer engaged. 


Track and monitor progress. 


Marketers and advertisers should consider embedding appropriate tracking mechanisms into each ad capable of assessing its response rate. For instance, a steaming, print, or outdoor ad may incorporate a unique toll-free number and URL that allows for the measurement of its response rate over time in comparison to other ads. 

These insights may also be supplemented with periodic research studies intended to track target market awareness and perceptions related to specific ads. For instance, intercepts may be conducted at retail locations to gauge the shopper’s awareness and perceptions of different ads promoting a sale. When combined, these offer the opportunity to make real-time assessments gauging the merit of each advertisement, its relative impact on target market awareness and perceptions, and its potential for advertising fatigue.

As a result of the pandemic and lifestyle changes, the pre-covid tactics must evolve for organizations to be successful. Advertising fatigue is a new challenge the industry must overcome and address to avoid negative perceptions of the brand’s advertising.

Regardless of whether it is digital advertising or traditional advertising, marketers and advertising can continue to successfully use ads by knowing their target consumer and their behaviors, develop a tiered approach to avoid consumers having to review the same ad within a short time period, and appropriately tracking and adjusting ads.  

Stephen Rapier, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School specializing in advertising. 

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