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Reach and Frequency: What should be the priority?

Peter O'Leary Mar 07 • 3 mins read

If you were asked to choose between optimal exposure/reach and frequency to make your advertising campaign successful, how would you decide? More importantly, how would you know that you had the right strategy?

Reach and frequency, by definition.

Reach is best defined as the number of potential customers that were exposed to a message through a particular media vehicle. The main objective of reach is optimal exposure. Reach measures the number of potential customers who see/hear the advertising campaign communication, whereas frequency refers to the number of times that those customers were 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 individual people see/hear your message. Conventional media wisdom says that you should plan for you message to be seen at 3 times or, using industry terminology, 3+.

The challenge has always been in finding the balance. By increasing frequency, reach is reduced (and vice versa). 

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

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 the audience targeting, without frequency in delivering those messages, you wouldn’t be able to develop the relationship/brand recall needed to have your customers take action.

However, the times have changed. Now, there is new evidence to consider.

Professor Larry Lockshin emphasised the importance of the role of reach in Effective Marketing Research, a study published by the University of South Australia in 2014. Guided by the principles of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, Lockshin shares that it is better to aim for reach than to target frequency, because purchase rates significantly increase when the total number of people exposed to the brand also increases. He further observed that viewing once increases purchase probability whereas repeat viewing has little effect.

What this means, of course, is that we now prioritise reach over frequency. There are still many factors to consider, especially around messaging and the smart targeting of your audience. If growth is your challenge, the more people you reach, the more sales that follow.

Find out more by talking with us. We have to share on how to maximise your investment in media. The marketplace is a complex array of offers and opportunities - and our approach makes that complexity a strength and a competitive advantage. 

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