Some eye-opening research is discussed in this Business Week post.
It includes this central finding:
…a significant number of TV commercials achieve saturation faster than most advertisers and advertising agencies realize and reach a maximum household audience in just a week or two. The company said they discovered that at least seven new commercials reached 95 to 100 percent of the test’s HH audience within the first week of airing. The company said many advertisers are better off having a commercial air for no longer than two-three weeks followed by a week off the air and then running a few days a week.
“For many executions, any schedule longer than three weeks wastes media dollars and diminishes ROI,” said Lee Weinblatt, founder and CEO of MediaCheck’s parent, The PreTesting Company, Inc. “Unfortunately, other executions did not get beyond 38 percent total HH reach, even after six weeks on air. Most of the problem had to do with the execution, although time slots also played a role. We also learned that prime-time isn’t necessarily the best time for commercials.”
What this implies is:
1. You need to create cheaper TV spots – several per campaign 2. So you can “use each up” and move on to the next one 3. Otherwise they literally become wallpaper 4. And impact diminishes
I do not think you should take from this that you can cut your TV budget, run less TV, and have the same impact. If anything you should stack your dollars into a shorter window – then restack them with a new spot in another short window.
At least that’s my read.