Almost ten years ago, I completed my Masters thesis at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute titled "Exploring the Impact of Clutter on Advertising Effectiveness in Broadcast Media." Later on, I had the opportunity to publish this work with my supervisors, Erica Riebe and Rachel Kennedy, in the Journal of Advertising Research, where (at the time of writing this post) it has been cited 34 times!
I think the most interesting thing about clutter, that came out of this study, was that when respondents saw more ads, they actually recalled more ads ... so much for a cluttered mind!
You can read the abstract and access the paper below :
Consolidating past findings on clutter with analysis of four new data sets, we document the empirical patterns for how advertising works in television and radio with different levels of clutter. We find that advertising avoidance is similar in low and high clutter environments, so when there is more clutter, audiences really do see more advertisements. Doubling the clutter, however, does not halve the number of advertisements recalled, and in less clutter audiences are less likely to correctly identify the advertised brand in commercials they do recall. Overall, we find that the impact of clutter is not large, especially when compared to creative elements of executions.
Peter Hammer, Erica Riebe, Rachel Kennedy
Journal of Advertising Research
vol. 49 no. 2 159-163
The full paper is available here : http://www.journalofadvertisingresearch.com/content/49/2/159