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Reach and Frequency: What should be the priority? - AMBA Agency

Peter O'Leary 14 May 2019 • 4 mins read

Let’s say that you've been tasked with delivering the best results from a limited budget. It’s now time to decide on the optimal exposure/reach and frequency needed to make your advertising campaign a major success - there are so many options, opinions and possibilities. More importantly, how would you know if you have the right strategy?

The definition of Reach and Frequency.

Reach is the number of potential customers that will be exposed to a message through a particular media vehicle. Reach measures the number of potential customers who see/hear the advertising campaign.
Frequency refers to the number of times that those customers will be exposed to the message.

So, the higher the reach, the larger the number of people that see your message. The higher the frequency, the more times individual people see/hear your message.Reach and Frequency are inversely related - by increasing frequency, reach is reduced and by increasing reach, frequency suffers. This is primarily a function of the budget - there’s a limited number of ads/exposures and decision on how best to execute. The main objective of any advertising is optimal exposure.

Conventional media wisdom says that you should plan for your message to be seen at least 3 times or, using industry terminology, 3+. In reality, conventional wisdom is not always right.

What works today.

In the past, the industry convention was to prioritise a degree of frequency over reach. The belief was that no matter what the message and target audience, without frequency in delivering those messages, you wouldn’t be able to develop the relationship or the brand recall needed to have your customers take action.

Now we know better. We understand the power of context, how memories are triggered and how by intensifying emotion we gain stronger impact. Of course, all of this is evidence-based and is often found in your data. Talk to anyone in sales and they will tell you that by talking to more people they find more buyers. The evidence shows that the same rules apply in media and while that seems logical it is far from common practice.

If growth is your challenge, the more people you reach, the more sales that follow.

You can find out more of the science on the importance of reach via the work of Professor Larry Lockshin in Effective Marketing Research, a study published by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at the University of South Australia.

This means, of course, that we now prioritise reach over frequency. Maximising reach is a harder strategy to follow, requiring more effort in planning and audience acquisition. Determining the right audience is key (no surprise). We start with a simple question - who, in your brand’s audience, is going to consume more? Often this group is broader than you think and sometimes not who you expect (the insights are always contained in your data). The rules apply no matter the medium. For example, for TV advertising reach and frequency we would maximise reach. In practice, we buy more ‘Peak’ (high reach at a high cost) than ‘off peak’. Fewer spots do more work. Media planning and monitoring is more intensive.

Reach is the priority, sales the goal and happy customers the primary objective.

Both reach and frequency are just one part of a giant 3D marketing puzzle. It’s complex. Talk with us and let us guide you on how to fit the pieces together to create a true competitive advantage.

AMBA is a marketing agency that maximises the impact of brand in advertising. We’re based in Australia but connect with people everywhere. We consult on strategy, using your data to understand your customer's experience and execute campaigns that deliver strong commercial results. - Find out more.


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