Planning For Wearout: An Advertiser's Guide To Evaluating Campaign Needs in the Americas

Debbie Soloman
J. Walter Thompson
Douglas Scott
Millward Brown

Deciding when an ad or campaign has done its job is an important part of marketing planning. Many people feel that there is a point when an ad ceases to be effective or wears out. However, there is not a great deal of consensus on when it occurs, how many exposures it takes, or the basic pattern of wearout over time. Research shows that wearout depends on what you say, how clearly you say it, who you say it to, the marketing situation and on the media plan.

In developing an ad campaign, one of the frequently-asked questions is, 'How many executions do I need?' The underlying implication in this question is that an ad has a finite number of times it can be run before it loses effectiveness or wears out. Is this a realistic assumption? Does an ad have a finite life? What is wearout anyway? And what are the criteria for determining how many ads are needed?