Understanding Reach And Frequency


(By Bob McCurdy) In previous articles we touched upon various planning and scheduling concepts, such as “recency,” which is based on the premise that life largely puts the consumer in the market for a product, not necessarily advertising, the idea of sequencing, which is the rotation of shorter length commercials along with :30s or :60 s as a campaign progresses and the concept of the strategic media weight allocation based upon previous ad activity. Nothing revolutionary with any of these, but each individually or collectively could serve to positively impact campaign results.

We’d like to touch upon one additional planning tenet that deserves some attention when scheduling commercials across multiple week flights and it has to do with “reach and frequency.” When these metrics are considered in isolation, they are one-dimensional figures in that they provide zero insight into “when” and “how” listeners were reached, which can be as important to the success of a campaign as “how many” and “how often.”

In media, we often define “when” in terms of the listener’s mindset (ready to buy and open to messaging) or location (nearness to purchase and can take action) at the time of exposure. But rarely do we think of “when” in terms of at what points throughout a campaign consumers are exposed to the messaging. And while it is impossible to entirely control for this, there are ways we can schedule commercials that can positively impact “when” and “how” for maximum client advantage.

It’s generally preferable to have a listener exposed as consistently as possible throughout an entire campaign, as opposed to multiple impressions clumped in short periods of time. The reason: decay of commercial impact — we forget and need to be reminded. The more time that elapses between commercial exposures, the greater the commercial messaging decay. Without continuous “refreshment,” commercial impact eventually declines until any positive influence as a result of a commercial exposure all but disappears.

A certain degree of message decay is to be embraced and expected, if for no other reason than the reality of budget limitations. Think of commercial impact ebbing and flowing similar to the peaks and valleys that we see when viewing a picket fence’s silhouette, soaring when the messaging is refreshed and ebbing when it’s not. The key to effective scheduling is making sure “ebbing” is followed shortly thereafter by “soaring,” thus ensuring that our advertiser’s offering will be thought of in more purchasing situations than their competitors. Those advertisers thought of by more consumers in more purchasing situations, win. In media, the measurement of this ebbing and flowing of commercial impact/decay is known as adstock.

So what’s the most effective way to schedule campaigns that limit commercial decay while maintaining consistent exposure and share-of-voice? We believe it’s by airing the messaging across as many dayparts and days as possible. This not only will lead to more consistent and balanced exposure throughout a campaign, and limit the impact “valleys,” but maximize the raw reach of the campaign, which is so important to any business’ growth.

We can add this tenet to our suite of planning insights that can assist us in maximizing the impact of multiple-week client campaigns, which is the first step toward a renewal. We’ve found that discussing these concepts with our clients goes a long way to elevate our conversations with them while enabling us to segue from salesperson to trusted advisor.

Let’s be sure to not underestimate their ability to grasp and embrace these planning tenets. It’s a win-win for everyone.

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


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