June 20, 2023

Ad-dicted: The Never-ending Stream of Ads In Our Lives

Just How Many Do We See A Day?

Advertising is far from a new concept – it’s been around for centuries, in one form or another. However, with the rise of technology and the digital age, it’s become an almost unavoidable presence. We can hardly turn on the TV, use our computers, scroll through our phones, or step outside without seeing an endorsement, so much so that we can hardly separate our media consumption from the barrage of ads that accompany it.

But how many adverts do we actually encounter each day? The answer is way more than you think. Below, we’ll uncover the astonishing number of ads that bombard us on a daily basis, and then we’ll take a closer look at just how far we’ve come with the growth of advertising, and the tactics being used to expose you to as many as possible.

Ad-dicted_ The Never-ending Stream of Ads In Our Lives

Unraveling the Staggering Number of Ads We Face Each Day

The 1970s saw the rise of advertising in a way that had never before been seen. Billboards began popping up in cities, newspapers carried ads on their back pages, and television commercials filled the breaks between our favorite shows. At the time, it was estimated that the average person encountered anywhere from 500 to 1,600 ads per day. While this number was significant at the time, it pales in comparison to what we are exposed to today.

The Birth of Product Placement

In the 1970s, marketing firms were stretched thin due to limited resources and increasing government regulations. To make up for this, they experimented and developed new strategies like “positioning” which involved placing products directly into movies or television shows in order to gain exposure for those items. This was particularly effective because the audience would be more likely to remember the brand if it was associated with a character or plotline that resonated with them. This creative solution resulted in the emergence of product placement advertising, an innovative way to ensure brands stayed top-of-mind without seeming intrusive.

Fast forward to 2007, advertising is no longer just found within the confines of the media. It’s everywhere. From pop-up ads, to paid social media posts, and sponsored celebrity content, the number of adverts skyrocketed to an estimated 5000 per day, according to the market research firm Yankelovich in an interview for The New York Times.

 The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2023, January 5). Advertising | Definition, History, Objectives, Techniques, Examples, & Facts. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/advertising

A short 14 years later, the ads we see have nearly doubled, with the average person seeing anywhere between 4,000-10,000 ads daily, as of 2022. What spurned on this drastic increase? Digital devices, the internet, and the exponential growth of digital marketing.

The Growth of Advertising in the Digital Age


The introduction of Google’s AdWords advertising service in 2000 completely changed the way businesses advertise. This opened up a world of possibilities for companies, giving them access to a much larger customer base and allowing them to fine-tune their marketing messages. With a variety of metrics and analytical tools available through AdWords, businesses suddenly had the ability to track the success of their campaigns in real time and make adjustments accordingly.

Additionally, this new type of marketing leveraged the growing availability of broadband internet and enabled second-generation digital ads, such as video streaming and interactive content. As a result, online advertising quickly became the ideal platform for companies to promote their products and services to customers around the world.


In an effort to join in on the explosive capabilities of digital advertising, Facebook created a similar advertising service. Being a social media platform, Facebook enabled advertisers to target users based on information like demographics and social activity. This method of advertising was so successful that the yearly revenue generated reached over $69 billion in 2019, and nearly $115 billion in 2021.

The Impact Of Social Media Sites

You’ve likely noticed the numerous “Ad” links at the top of the page when you search for anything on Google, and you’d be right in thinking they’ve increased in number over the years. What used to be 2-3 advertised results, is now at least 4, taking full advantage of the average user making several searches a day.

Similarly, when looking at the big three social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – we see posts that look just like all the others. However, upon closer inspection, you’ll find a “sponsored” label that sets it apart from the rest as yet another promotion.

These two examples are what’s called native advertising (i.e. sponsored posts that look like regular ones) and are some of the biggest contributors to our highly inflated daily ad intake. Even so, marketing firms continue to develop and launch new strategies to push their messages to the forefront of our attention.

Breaking Down Our Daily Ad Intake: The Types We See

In the hopes of driving more sales, advertisers today have resorted to more creative methods of marketing. This includes using any of the following:

Video Ads: These ads are displayed in the form of a video or animation. You often see these on YouTube, where you’re forced to watch an advertisement before you can see the video.

In-App Banners: These are ads that are placed in an app’s interface, often at the top or bottom of the screen. Often found in free-to-use applications.

Paid Search: This is a type of online advertising where businesses pay to display their ads in the search results of a search engine. This type of advertising is typically used when targeting potential customers who are actively searching for particular products or services.

Email Adverts: These are targeted emails sent to potential customers with promotional content and offers.

Social Media Ads: These are simply advertisements that appear on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They often use a pay-per-click model.

Streaming Ads: Ever been on Twitch.tv or other live-streaming platforms? Video ads are often used on these platforms and are usually supported by brand deals.

In-Game Ads: These are advertisements that appear within video games. They can take the form of banners, video clips, or even interactive elements that appear as part of the gameplay. Amazon’s New World did some experimental testing of in-game ads last year, showcasing them to popular streamers.

Digital Banner Ads: These appear on websites in a rectangular shape, usually at the top, bottom, or side of a page. These types of ads use creative visuals and eye-catching designs to draw users’ attention and generate interest in the brand or product being advertised.

Product Placement: This is a form of advertising in which products are featured within a context, such as a movie, television program, video game or other media. This technique can be used to reach consumers in a more subtle way than traditional advertising and allows brands to immerse their product into the narrative of a program or game to create an emotional connection with the audience.

AdBlock – Not As Effective As You’d Imagine

As the influx of ads grew, the tolerance of many users continued to dwindle, leading to the inevitable invention of ad blockers. Generally referred to as simply “AdBlock,” ad blockers are installed as plugins to an internet browser, and analyze commonalities within the coding of web pages to detect ads. Once an ad is detected, AdBlock keeps it from displaying, making your online experience much more enjoyable.

The first AdBlock, called AdBlock Plus, arrived in 2005 as an extension for Firefox, but was quickly adapted for use with other web browsers as well. However, as with any program, ad blockers had their own problems and limitations, for example, false positives, false negatives, and even larger companies trying to sneak past the plugins, quickly became a widespread problem. Most notably, Facebook restructured their entire website in order to trick AdBlock into allowing all internal ads to display as intended.

Although programmers worked to improve AdBlock to account for these shortcomings, advertisers began offering large payments to have their ads “whitelisted”, which simply means they won’t be blocked, regardless if detected. Unfortunately, a few ad blockers, including Adblock Plus, accepted these payments, inducing a lot of anger from users, and inspiring several new variations of AdBlock in a matter of days.

Will Advertisements Continue to Rise?

The short answer is yes. As consumer habits, technology and digital media continue to evolve, so too will advertising strategies. Companies are already beginning to experiment with new technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence in order to further target customers and create more immersive experiences.
However, we may also see more methods for blocking or preventing ads from being seen. Ad blockers are already a popular way for users to filter out unwanted advertisements, and the development of new software or even hardware solutions to combat ads is likely to increase – a great example are the glasses that can block real world advertisements.

For now, it’s safe to say that we will continue to be bombarded with advertisements for the foreseeable future – but how we interact and engage with them will change as technologies, and consumer habits evolve.