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We are exposed to thousands of brand messages each day.

Consider the routine of our daily commute--we really don't think about how many brands are right in front of us. So the other day I tried to observe every brand message in my drive to work.

At first, I saw the obvious: outdoor boards, signs on buildings, the produce truck that passed me, the car in front of me. Then I noticed my steering wheel, my coffee cup, my watch.

After a few minutes, it became exhausting--the visual equivalent of listening to dozens of different radio stations at the same time. The ubiquity of advertising is too much input to handle in our daily lives. So, our minds insulate us by filtering advertising from our consciousness.

When a new medium is introduced, marketers flock to it in the belief that its novelty will break through to the waking mind. And for a while, it may work.

This has recently been an effect in both outdoor advertising and online banners, with the introduction of the vertical orientation or skyscraper. However, in time the mind becomes immune to the rhetorical value of the new medium and incorporates it into the mental filtering process of “oh, I've seen that before.”

Any bump in recall is a temporary effect, at best.

Rather than chasing the latest media fad, savvy brand marketers know it is the message that counts. Effective advertising for a brand depends on the ability to be relevant, engaging and motivating.

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Mitch McCasland (mmccasland@moroch.com) is director of insight and brand strategy at Moroch Partners (www.moroch.com) and a leading advocate of using customer insights and competitive intelligence as a basis for brand strategy, advertising, and new product design.