Understanding Reach, Frequency, & Relevancy in Media Buying

With the advertising industry being redefined by technology and consumer choice in when and how to consume content, the buzzword "media fragmentation" points to an opportunity for media buyers and marketers.  Media can and should work in concert--not so much fragmented as it is complementary.

The target demographics are changing their media consumption habits. The past few years have brought about an increase in internet usage, and the reach of radio remains constant despite the decline of other traditional media such as print newspapers and directories.   

Meanwhile, more than enough research has been published to support the increase in brand recognition and recall among those exposed to an ad in multiple media. And that's the opportunity for marketers--using one medium to drive traffic to another and increase the impact of a campaign through multi-channel advertising.     Reach & Frequency, 1998 & 2007

The reason this multi-channel approach works is best explained through the concepts of reach and frequency. To make work well, it's important to understand the relevancy of a medium to the target audience, too.

  • Reach refers to the total number of people “in the audience” for your advertisement.
  • Frequency refers to the number of times an individual is exposed to your ad.
  • Relevancy is exactly what it implies—how relevant your ad is to an individual at the time and in the context that he or she is exposed to it.

Reach indicates the size of the unduplicated audience. When considering reach, it’s important to remember that an individual viewing or being exposed to an advertisement more than once does not increase its reach, but rather frequency.  

Frequency is how many times an individual is exposed to your ad in any medium. Frequency can be attained through repetition of ads during the campaign run dates, and/or by rotating advertisements between media types.  

Relevancy. If content is King, then relevancy is Queen. These days consumers have choices—what media to consume, when and how to buy their goods. Before the buy, they can go online and research a product or service, from reading up on corporate messaging to accessing customer reviews. People won’t spend time with an ad if it’s not relevant to them—demographically, contextually, behaviorally, temporally.

While a campaign calendar can illustrate the frequency of advertisements, and the statistics illustrate reach, relevancy is typically based on gut feel resulting from market research. Program ratings and editorial content of a publication can help determine the degree of relevancy an opportunity holds. Marketers can do their best to find relevant placements for their ads and produce ads with relevant content, but actual responses to the campaign are usually the best indicator of relevancy.  

Understanding the media

The key to leveraging media fragmentation as an opportunity for higher impact advertising campaigns is to understand the unique qualities of each media type. Use that insight to outline a media mix tailored to the local market and media consumption patterns of your target audience, then determine how much of the budget to allocate to each media type in order to reach the campaign goals.

Learn more about multi-channel media planning in our complimentary white paper, 7 Steps to an Effective and Measurable Multi-Channel Advertising Campaign.

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