Consumer Recall Rates of Phone Numbers in Advertising - 800response

Consumer Recall Rates of Phone Numbers in Advertising

Consumer Recall Rates of Phone Numbers in Advertising: Vanity 800 Numbers vs. Numeric Toll-free Numbers


This study examines the consumers’ recall of vanity 800 numbers (mnemonic phone numbers that transpose into words on the telephone keypad, i.e. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? ®) compared with recall rates of numeric toll-free phone numbers when used in visual and broadcast advertisements.  The study findings prove that advertisers can expect up to an 84% improvement in consumer recall rates when they feature a vanity 800 number rather than a numeric toll-free number in visual advertising media (billboards, magazines).  A second portion of the study focusing on audio advertisements (television, radio) shows that consumers are nine times more likely to recall a vanity 800 number compared to a numeric toll-free phone number.

The third part of the study looks at the consumer’s recognition of the existing toll-free prefixes (800, 888, 877, 866), and the fourth part identifies consumer preferences when given the choice of using a local numeric number or a toll-free vanity 800 number to dial a local businessThe results of the third part confirm that 800 is by far the most widely recognized toll-free prefix among consumers, with a 94% recognition rate.  A Yellow Pages comparative in the study shows that when given a choice, the majority of consumers prefer to dial a toll-free vanity 800 number when calling a local business.

Key Finding 1: 84% Improvement in Recall Rates with Vanity 800 Numbers in Visual Media.
65% of survey respondents were able to correctly recall the vanity 800 number that was featured in a visual advertisement.

Key Finding 2: Significantly Lower Recall Rates for Numeric Toll-free Numbers in Visual Media.
Only 31% of the respondents could correctly recall the numeric toll-free number in a visual advertisement. The majority, 69%, could NOT correctly recall the numeric phone number.

Key Finding 3: Consumers Are 9 Times More Likely to Recall Vanity 800 Numbers in Audio Ads.
Over 72% of consumers correctly recalled the vanity 800 number
after hearing one 30-second simulated radio advertisement, compared to just 5% of consumers who correctly recalled the numeric toll-free number.

Key Finding 4: “800” is the Most Widely Recognized Toll-free Prefix.
94% of survey respondentsidentified the ‘800’ prefix as toll-free, with 888 registering as the second most widely recognized toll-free prefix.  The 877 and 866 prefixes are only recognized by half of consumers.

Key Finding 5: Consumer Prefer to Dial Toll-free Vanity Numbers.
58% of survey respondents stated that they would prefer to dial a toll-free vanity 800 number over a local numeric phone number in order to reach a business.


The results of this study confirm the overwhelming value of using vanity 800 numbers as consumer response tools over numeric toll-free numbers, particularly in visual and audio media, such as television, outdoor, print and radio advertising.  Study data also demonstrates that the vast majority of consumers continue to associate the 800 prefix with toll-free, and their preferences for dialing an easy-to-remember vanity 800 number when reaching a local business in their market.