Too Much Information

A new academic study claims the average American consumes 34 gigabytes and 100,000 words of information every day. That’s not just a phenomenal amount of information to take in. It’s also estimated to be well over three times the daily amount that we consumed back in 1980.

The ‘How Much Information?‘ study, published by the University of California, San Diego, looks at media consumption today in the United States. Television is still the dominant information source, taking up 41% of the total time spent consuming media, followed by the internet, which takes 16% of total time. Other mediums covered by the study include cinema visits and computer games, talking on cell phones and listening to the radio, among others…

It’s perhaps difficult for us to really grasp the sheer scale of the amount of information we’re talking about here, but few of us would argue that we are not exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of advertising, marketing, promotional and sales messages on a daily basis. But what does this mean for all those marketers who are competing to get their own messages across?

Well, there are many implications, but one of the most important would be that it underlines the absolute need to have a strong, clear and consistent brand. Mixed messages will not help you stand out; at best they will cause confusion and at worst they will be overlooked altogether. A strong brand will help to ensure that your customers know exactly what you offer, realize exactly what you stand for, and understand exactly what they can expect from you. The key then, of course, is to make sure the offering itself does not disappoint them, which is a whole new challenge!

Another important point to make can be nicely summarized by the famous John Wanamaker quotation: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half. Advertising is a tricky business, and is undoubtedly made harder today by the fact that so many other messages are competing for our prospective customers’ attention. The key with any form of advertising or direct mail campaign is to test, test and test again. Make sure you are researching the audience’s reaction to your campaign before the concept is fully developed and again before it is launched. Then you must monitor the campaign once it has gone live, and continue to track its effectiveness over time. We may not be able to reduce the amount of other information we are competing with, but there are certainly things we can do to help us stand out from the crowd.

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