(By Bob McCurdy) Studies highlighting the critical role “reach” plays in ad campaigns continue to pour in. This is obviously good news as radio is the number one reach medium in the U.S.
Nielsen Catalina Solutions recently conducted an analysis of 500 CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) campaigns quantifying the contribution various media and non-media factors have on ad campaign success. Not surprisingly, “creative” was the number one sales driver followed by “reach” (an ARF study last year concluded the same thing). Creative and reach alone were determined to account for 70% of the total impact of an ad campaign.
The takeaway from this study: There is no better way to enhance ROI than improving creative and reaching as many consumers as possible with it.
In spite of all of the headlines touting the importance of targeting and ad context, reach’s importance as a key sales driver was shown to be twice that of “targeting” and context” combined.
Sometimes those of us in advertising make the simple, complex. The simple fact is that reach’s extreme importance as a sales driver should be obvious:
— Consumers can’t purchase something if they are not aware of it. This should make planning for reach the foundation of any effective media plan.
— The more consumers who are aware of an offer, the greater the chances of reaching someone who is interested in purchasing it.
— Brands and companies grow by getting more customers, not getting existing customers to buy more frequently, meaning lower reach makes it more difficult to maintain the same sales level, let alone grow.
If a brand has strong creative and an attractive offer, it’s not marketing genius but just common sense to get as many consumers exposed to that messaging as possible. Nothing mysterious here.
Earlier this year at a WARC session in Cannes, the Ehrenberg- Bass Institute’s Professor Rachel Kennedy stressed that targeting should prioritize reaching consumers whom a brand has not reached before. Kennedy noted:
“As brands grow they bring new people into their brand who have not bought from them in the past. This has really important implications for your priorities as to who you need to target. If you’re using targeting to get to people you haven’t got to in the past, fantastic. If you’re targeting at scale, the evidence supports that. If you’re using targeting in any way that’s limiting who you’re talking to … you are limiting your potential for growth.”
Gordon Euchler, Head of Planning at BBDO, wrote an article titled, “How to Grow Brands by Targeting the Masses,” in which he said “Targeting people with a high propensity to purchase has a tendency of emptying the pool of people in the market without refilling it.”
Radio’s reach can refill that pool.
Finally, several months ago, Nielsen Catalina Solutions also presented the results of a study that involved Kellogg’s, at the annual ARF conference that focused on online ad viewability. Fifteen factors that affect online video ad sales impact were analyzed. Both frequency and targeting were shown to have among the weakest impact on sales.
Reaching consumers repeatedly (frequency always limits reach due to budget restrictions) with a message that’s not relevant and over-targeting, by not marketing inclusively, limits sales. This should not be surprising as it’s extremely difficult to grow without extending a brand’s “footprint.” This requires reach, the widening of the marketing “net” to reach, at a minimum, all current category buyers.
How would I utilize the above with clients? I’d stress:
— Reach don’t preach. Reaching many is better than preaching to a few.
— The need for frequency decreases, as commercial relevance increases. Message relevance, not frequency of message, leads to sales. If a message is irrelevant, no level of frequency will change this fact. Strive for reach with continuity, so when the consumer’s circumstances change, their brand comes to mind.
— As it pertains to call-to-action campaigns, which comprise a considerable percentage of total radio advertising, I’d recommend considering purchasing more stations rather than fewer with a lighter spot load on each, while utilizing more dayparts to maximize reach.
Strong creative combined with reach are far and away the two main drivers of ad success, and radio can deliver reach more efficiently and effectively than any other marketing option, when properly scheduled.
Paul Murray, the extremely capable Media Director at DuffeyPetrosky/Detroit, said it best:
He who has a thing to sell
And goes and whispers in a well
Is not so apt to get the dollars
Than he who climbs a tree and hollers
Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]