The degree to which audiences can recall advertising is driven by the quality of the creative, the channel selection and congruence with surrounding content. These issues complement the more instinctively understood influence of pre-existing familiarity with the brand and repetition of the ad.


Recall and recognition are the implicit and explicit ways in which audiences bring to mind brand name, message and news (or fail to do so). It is a metric that advertisers often use to pre-test the effectiveness of ads.

Key insights

1. Audiences forget 90% of what is shared with them within 48 hours

According to software company Marketo, people forget around 90% of what is shared with them within 48 hours and retain the remaining ‘metaphorical 10% for a period of time: in fact the statistics for this ‘metaphorical 10%” can be anything between one and 12%. What is important is for marketers to consider which messages they want retained. Neuroscience techniques can help to improve recall.

  • Content should be easy to process; the 10% message should be marked by cognitive ease
  • Consider the mental model the audience already has with the brand. Familiarity aids memory and recall
  • Be wary of messages becoming over familiar as the brain habituates; feed familiarity but change stimuli
  • Introduce a degree of uncertainty in order to increase dopamine levels
  • Do not simplify complexity; give the brain something simple and then switch to something complex giving a degree of uncertainty.