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The Advertising Rule of 3, Does it Work?

Posted by on July 29, 2008

advertising rule of 3

Those of you familiar with advertising may be familiar with the rule of 3. This rule states that in order for a consumer to actively think about purchasing your product or service you have to hit them with the advertisement 3 different times. For example if a company wants to sell you something they should send you an email, a direct mail letter and give you a phone call. This is just an example, but you get the point. This “rule” has been around quite some time and I think we need to re-examine its effectiveness.

The rule of 3 has been in existence pre-internet but I question its modern day utility. Let’s think about this for a moment. The overall attention span of humans is decreasing, meaning we are all getting a more and more ADD with how we perceive and interact with information. We don’t have the time to sit and watch ads anymore, we want things instantly and we want it our way, and we don’t get it, we hit the “back” or the “delete” button. So knowing this, do you think that marketers should spend their time trying to show you MORE ads? There has been a large backlash against telemarketers, spammers, blog pitchers, etc. for precisely this reason, people do not want to be spammed and people do not want to see more ads.

There are a couple of things that can happen. Either the rule of 3 will turn into the rule of 33, meaning that marketers are really going to have to bombard and spam the hell out of people in order to get their attention (and really irritate them). OR instead, the rule of 3 will switch from a metric of quantity to a metric of quality and relevancy. Instead of concentrating on how many times marketers need to advertise to someone to get their attention, marketers need to focus on the relevancy and the quality of those ads.

We can all see that our attention is diminishing we don’t want to be bombarded with ads and we don’t want to be spammed, so what is the solution? Focus on relevancy, it is far more effective to show someone 1 relevant ad than it is to show non-relevant ads in larger quantity. Of course we could combine the concepts and show more relevant ads, but remember over time marketers will reach a point of diminishing return, meaning that just because you show more relevant ads doesn’t mean you are going to get more purchases. There is a balance between relevancy and respecting your consumers. Show consumers relevant ads, but don’t bombard them. If you are tired of seeing ads, so are your consumers.

What do you think about the rule of 3? Do you find it effective or not?

Thanks for reading.

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