How many times a customer needs to see an ad or a commercial?

Dalibor Šumiga Behavioral marketing/Neuromarketing, Marketing

How many times a commercial or an ad has to be shown to a person in order to make her buy the product? Is there a magical number?

Modern customer is exposed to a larger number of information in one day than a person in 16th century was for her whole lifetime.

There are two main drivers of marketing:

  1. Reach – show your product to the largest number of people possible
  2. Frequency – show your product to a person enough times so he/she decides to buy it

The reach doesn’t have to be explained, but the optimal frequency could be a subject of discussion. One of the reasons of the increased use of ad blocker is aggressive and disruptive advertisement. Hence the optimal frequency is an everyday challenge of marketing experts. To make it clear, in this blog you will not find a magic formula of the optimal frequency, but you will find a way to find it by testing.


Recent studies are showing that the optimal number of exposures of a brand to a person is 10, but that number is probably even bigger because the studies have been conducted in laboratory conditions. The fewer number of exposures can cause a short-term result in sales. But, if you want to connect to your customer on a long-term basis, the brain needs clear and frequent messages about your brand in order to store it in long-term memory.

FMCG products of wide consumption, which we are buying automatically and which mostly go to the category of utiliarian products (everyday, necessary supplies) need a larger number of exposures. In this case, repetition helps to create a brand awareness and, consequently, a decision to buy it. Also, a study has shown that the time interval between the presentations of a commercial also has a strong impact, as well as the seasonality of the product.


The information we have, which date from the year 2012, are more or less confirming the frequency given by the neuromarketing studies. However, they are showing a somewhat different pattern – the more expensive and the more complex the product is, a larger number of exposures is needed. For example, for a decision on restaurant we need around six pieces of information, and for the decision on buying the car around 19 of them.

It is very important that the source of information (web page, forum, TV commercial etc.) has a certain credibility and authenticity , which means that fake pages with reviews, fake testimonials or quasi-native articles are not a trustworthy source of information.

If you ask me, I am more inclined to the behavioral study because it thoroughly represents a real shopping environment of the user and his behaviour when he’s not conscious of the fact that his habits are being observed.


Start with historical data similar to the examples from the previous chapter. If you don’t have any historical data, contact the experts who will give you necessary data or recommend the most effective way to find them.

Pay attention to the seasonality of the product. No matter how good is your commercial, if you advertise ice cream in November, the sales are certainly not going to reach the numbers which you are achieving during the summer.

This is a very important part – pay attention in which part of the sales funnel is your customer. A marketing message cannot be the same for a person who has just started to search for the options as for a person who has already come to the phase of choosing between three products.

The testing we have conducted on 30.000 users has shown that the frequency can be half as low if the commercial has a perfect timing. The product we have advertised is a combination of hedonistic (not necessary for a living) and utilitarian (everyday need) and it belongs to a higher price range.

The historical data have shown us that we need a frequency of 9 exposures per user in a period of one month in order to encourage the purchase.

However, the timing was perfect – a month before the peak of the seasonality and the sales have jumped drastically already after 4 exposures to the commercial.

Of course, for this kind of researches you need client’s understanding, patience and clear aim for a long-term result.


Everything above falls into the water if you don’t follow the main rule of marketing. It is the rule nobody wants to write about or talk about out loud, which says:

“Do not advertise a shitty product.”