Do You Have The Reach?

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(By Bob McCurdy) Reach is hot. It’s getting some well-deserved love in this fragmented media landscape for good reason: Companies typically grow by expanding their customer base, not by getting current customers to buy more often.

“The research shows that if you have an effective advertising campaign, your No. 1 priority should be to reach as many people with that campaign as possible.” — David Poltrack CBS’ Chief Research Officer

“You clearly need your broad reach of vehicles from an awareness perspective.” — Allison Miazga-Bedrick, North American Marketing Director of the Chocolate Filled Bar Brands Portfolio at Mars

“It’s very clear for fast-moving consumer goods that there’s a direct correlation between reach and sales, so we need to map out the right reach.” — Efrain Ayala, Social Media & Mobile Manager/North America & Europe for Reckitt Benckiser

“The focus is on reach and continuity.” — Marc Pritchard Chief Brand Officer at P&G

This can be an extremely positive development for radio but there is another aspect of “reach” we might also want to touch upon when meeting with clients.

Bill Harvey, a much-accomplished and respected media executive/researcher/consultant, touched upon a concept he referred to as “reach velocity” in a blog last year. Harvey provided data that suggested the speed at which reach is generated impacts ROI, with faster being better. Harvey wrote, “If two exposures are delivered in the two days before a shopping trip, this doubles to triples the sales effect.”

He continued: “If reach is high, but it built up slowly – say, if you put all of your money into monthly magazines (not to knock their value in other dimensions), then in any two-day period the percentage who received messages will be low.

Why did I bother to mention a “two-day” period?

The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve describes the temporal footprint of advertising’s effectiveness – it drops off sharply for the first two days, and then gradually after that.”

In his follow-up blog Harvey concluded, “This means there is reason to employ fast-reach media vehicles as a core to one’s schedule if one is a CPG brand. In all likelihood, this applies to all product categories to some degree as well, but probably applies most to high-velocity categories.”

There are a couple of marketing tenets at play in Harvey’s blogs. First, the reason why high “reach velocity” is important is that buying never stops, so it is in an advertiser’s best interest to minimize the time gap between each purchase occasion and the last advertising brand exposure.

The second is that most advertising serves to “remind” and not “teach,” which highlights the importance of “mental availability,” as the more often a product comes to mind in buying situations, the more often it’ll be purchased.

The third is, while advertising does have a “lagged” effect, there does soon come a point – Harvey’s data suggests within two days – when it needs to be refreshed.

All three are foundational to Erwin Ephron’s recency planning theory.

“Reach velocity” plays to three key radio’s strengths:

–         Near daily usage (according to Nielsen 5.1 days/week).

–         Frequency of daily use, 3.5x/day (Arbitron stat prior to the Nielsen purchase).

–         Resonance. Radio enables an advertiser to achieve efficient continuity, which fits nicely into Harvey’s two-day window.

We can also enhance radio’s “reach velocity” via the integration of 10s and 15s to supplement 30s or 60s, broad use of all dayparts as well as road-blocking commercial pods across stations.

Much radio advertising promotes time-sensitive or call-to-action events where reach, not frequency, should be the primary goal. Radio, via its 93% weekly usage and 97% monthly usage, has always been able to deliver the reach, now we can highlight another dimension and benefit of this metric in which radio also excels.

Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]

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