## June 21, 2011

### How Many Ads Are We Exposed to Daily??

The other day on a blog article I saw a commenter who said that they had heard that Americans are exposed to 5,000 advertising messages in an average day.    That sounded like an example of numerical fiction.   The number didn't seem close to realistic.   I figured I would do a little research into it and see where these numbers come from.

This Google Answer has a lot of research on the topic.   They cite many references that give numbers for how many ads we see daily.   One such example : “The average American is exposed to 247 commercial messages each day.” Consumer Reports Website

But the numbers just go up from there.   The various sources they reference give numbers of :
247, 600, 3000, 850, 3000, 3000, 600, 500-1000, 2500, 1500, 3000, 3000, 1600, 3000, 3000 and 1500 respectively

Couple points, first, thats a whole lot of variation and second the 3000 number is repeated many times.   I searched further on my own for that 3000 number.   I found the article Children, Adolescents, and Advertising from the American Academy of Pediatrics that says: "The average young person views more than 3000 ads per day on television (TV), on the Internet, on billboards, and in magazines" and it gives the source as : Goodman E. Ads pollute most everything in sight. Albuquerque Journal. June 27, 1999:C3

The Story of Stuff also references the same statistic from the same source according to Wikipedia.   As far as I can tell the 3000 figure comes from Ellen Goodman  I suspect she did some study that claimed that number and then it was cited and repeated across the other sources as fact.   I don't find anything directly from her that explains the figure.   In fact I don't see an explanation behind any of the numbers.

My Guess at a Number

In a given 24 hour period you do a lot of things that have no exposure to advertisements.  You need to eat meals, shower, sleep, dress yourself, etc.  You probably spend a good 10 hours doing such activities.    In a given workday you will also spend 8-10 hours at work and commuting.