The Science Behind Why Commercials Are Always So Loud

Did you know that the average television commercial is 30 percent louder than the television show it interrupts? This phenomenon, known as the “loudness war,” has been a source of frustration for viewers for years. The practice of increasing the volume of commercials can be traced back to the early days of television advertising, when companies sought to grab the attention of viewers and make their products stand out. However, the issue of excessively loud commercials has become a significant problem in recent years, prompting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take action.

In response to numerous complaints from consumers, the FCC enacted the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act in 2010. This legislation requires television broadcasters to ensure that commercials are broadcast at a volume level consistent with the programming they accompany. While the CALM Act has helped to mitigate the issue to some extent, the practice of airing excessively loud commercials still persists. According to a survey conducted by the advocacy group Consumers Union, 86 percent of respondents reported that they found the volume of television commercials to be excessively loud.

The science behind why commercials are always so loud can be attributed to the competitive nature of the advertising industry. Companies are constantly vying for the attention of consumers, and one way to achieve this is by increasing the volume of their commercials. The theory is that louder commercials are more likely to grab the viewer’s attention and make a lasting impression on their memory. However, this tactic can often have the opposite effect, causing viewers to become annoyed and tune out the advertisement altogether. As a result, the issue of excessively loud commercials remains a hot topic among consumers and regulators alike.

Why Are Commercials So Loud? Unraveling the Mystery Behind Blaring Ads

Have you ever noticed how commercials always seem to be louder than the TV show you were just watching? The answer lies in a practice known as audio compression, which is a technique used by advertisers to grab your attention and make their message stand out from the rest of the programming.

When a commercial comes on during a TV show, advertisers want to make sure that you hear their message loud and clear. By compressing the audio in the commercial, they are able to make the overall volume levels higher than the surrounding programming. This sudden increase in volume is designed to grab your attention and make you more likely to remember the product or service being advertised.

However, this practice of audio compression has been met with criticism from viewers who find it annoying and disruptive. In response to these complaints, regulatory agencies have implemented rules and guidelines dictating the maximum volume levels that commercials can reach.

Despite these regulations, some advertisers still find ways to make their commercials stand out by using other audio techniques such as sound design, music, and voice-over work. These additional elements can create a sense of urgency and excitement that further drive the message home and make the commercial more memorable.

So, the next time you find yourself reaching for the remote to turn down the volume on a blaring commercial, remember that there is a method to the madness. Audio compression is just one of the many tools that advertisers use to grab your attention and make sure that their message is heard. to learn more about why commercials are so loud and how you can combat them, stay tuned for the next part of our series where we delve deeper into the world of advertising and sound design.

The Science Behind Why Commercials Are Always So Loud

One of the most common complaints about watching television is the sudden increase in volume when commercials come on. This phenomenon is not just a coincidence but a deliberate strategy used by advertisers to grab viewers’ attention and make their ads more memorable.

Psychological Impact

Research has shown that loud sounds trigger a fight-or-flight response in our brains, causing us to pay closer attention to the source of the noise. Advertisers take advantage of this by cranking up the volume during commercials to make sure viewers are not tuning out. This tactic has been proven to increase brand recall and purchase intent.

Competition for Attention

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information and advertisements, companies are always looking for ways to stand out. By making their commercials louder than the surrounding programming, advertisers aim to cut through the noise and capture the audience’s attention. This tactic is especially effective during commercial breaks, when viewers may be more likely to step away from the television or engage in other activities.

Regulatory Measures

In response to complaints from viewers, regulatory agencies in some countries have implemented rules regarding the volume of television commercials. In the United States, for example, the CALM Act was passed in 2010 to limit the loudness of commercials relative to the programming they accompany. However, advertisers have still found ways to work around these regulations, such as using compression techniques to make their ads sound louder without technically exceeding the volume limit.

Why are commercials so loud compared to regular programming?

Commercials are often louder than regular programming because advertisers want to grab your attention and make sure their message is heard.

Do broadcasters intentionally make commercials louder?

No, broadcasters are actually required by law to maintain a consistent average volume level between programming and commercials. However, there can still be noticeable differences due to the way ads are produced and mixed.

Can I do anything to prevent commercials from being so loud?

One option is to enable volume leveling or dynamic range compression on your TV or audio system. This can help to balance out the loudness levels between programming and commercials.

Why do some commercials seem even louder than others?

Some commercials may appear louder due to their audio levels and the use of techniques like compression and limiting, which amplify loud sounds and make them stand out more.

Is there anything I can do to report excessively loud commercials?

Yes, you can report any commercials that you believe are excessively loud to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They have rules in place to address this issue and ensure that broadcasters comply with volume regulations.


The main reasons why commercials are so loud can be attributed to the desire to grab viewers’ attention, compete with other advertisements, and create a sense of urgency. By increasing the volume of commercials, advertisers hope to stand out and capture audience’s interest in a crowded media landscape. This strategy is aimed at preventing viewers from tuning out or changing the channel during commercial breaks. Moreover, the loudness of commercials can also create a sense of urgency and prompt viewers to take immediate action, such as making a purchase or visiting a store.

Another key factor contributing to the loudness of commercials is the limited time advertisers have to convey their message. With only a short window of time to engage viewers and promote their product or service, increasing the volume of commercials is seen as a quick and effective way to make an impact. Additionally, research has shown that louder commercials are more memorable and have a higher likelihood of influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions. As a result, the practice of airing loud commercials is likely to continue as advertisers seek to maximize the impact of their marketing efforts.