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Tiered Radio Scheduling

Most radio reps will tell you that you need to spend thousands of dollars to get any impact with an advertising schedule on radio…and as much as they would all like this to be true there are many small businesses that don’t have a large advertising budget.   Radio is great medium for a call to action or a sale campaign.   There are many strategies that you can utilize to help stretch your advertising dollars one is called tier scheduling.   As a media buyer, I select two stations that reach the target demographic and instead of running 4 ads a day for 2 weeks I can maximize the schedule by running one station at 4 ads Monday, Wednesday, Friday one week and Tuesday, Thursday the next week and the second station at 4 ads Tuesday, Thursday one week and Monday, Wednesday, Friday the next week.  This stretches a 2 week schedule into a 4 week schedule for the same budget maximizing your reach.  









ABC  4 ads

XYZ  4 ads

ABC  4 ads

XYZ  4 ads

ABC  4 ads



XYZ  4 ads

ABC  4 ads

XYZ  4 ads

ABC  4 ads

XYZ  4 ads



ABC  4 ads

XYZ  4 ads

ABC  4 ads

XYZ  4 ads

ABC  4 ads



XYZ  4 ads

ABC  4 ads

XYZ  4 ads

ABC  4 ads

XYZ  4 ads



Tiered scheduling also allows advertisers to use multiple stations even with a small budget therefore hitting different listeners.   Broadening the listener base is especially important when a business is targeting a broad demographic such as Adults 25-54. 

By using tiered scheduling businesses are able to maximize their advertising dollars and make them work more effectively and efficiently. 

What Media Buyers Measure

Avariety of concepts and formulas are used in the planning and buying process for different advertising media. These calculations and figures are signals that point to the best media buy based on budget, audience, and goals.

At its most basic level, all this media math points to three key concepts in advertising and marketing:

  • Audience
  • Delivery 
  • Cost


Thanks to advances in media and technology, it’s easier than ever to reach a target audience with relevant advertising content (think niche cable programming, local websites and blogs, community magazines). It’s why a fragmented advertising marketplace presents more of an opportunity than a challenge, if managed efficiently.

Successful advertising campaigns reach the right audience at the right time, with the right message. This requires media buyers to consider the demographics (age, gender), psychographics (education and income), and behavioral indicators (purchase history, lifestyle) of that audience.

Understanding your target audience allows you to present a message that appeals directly to those consumers, delivered in a media channel with which they’re engaged, and in a language they speak.

Size. Measurements such as ratings points, impressions, and subscribers provide insight into audience size for a media outlet being considered for a campaign.

Audience size provides a way to quantify how many people are reached with the advertising message, but it’s an inconsequential data point if those ads aren’t reaching a targeted audience.

Behavior. Behavioral indicators like media consumption patterns, purchase history, and lifestyle data on home or automobile ownership within a target geography help media buyers further narrow the list of media channels and outlets considered for a campaign. These factors highlight the advertising opportunities that are a best fit based on factors such as product price point, distribution channels, and marketplace competition.


Delivery can refer to both the audience that is delivered, and the way in which the advertising message is delivered to that audience.

Plenty of research has been published that explores increased brand recognition and recall among people exposed multiple times to an ad distributed in multiple media channels.

Multichannel advertising presents the opportunity to use one medium to drive traffic to another for a more effective campaign. The reason this multichannel approach works is best explained through the concepts of reach and frequency.

To make any advertising work well, it’s important to understand the relevancy of a media channel and its content to the target audience.

  • 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 she or he is exposed to it.

Effective reach and frequency varies depending on a number of factors, such as

  • The price and type of product or service being advertised,
  • Whether the message is passive or intrusive, 
  • The stage of the buying cycle a consumer is in when they are reached for the first time (granted, different for a restaurant advertiser and an automotive advertiser), and 
  • Whether it’s a campaign to raise brand awareness or a call to action to generate direct sales.


This concept explains itself fairly well. Budget allocation is a major factor in any media plan, just as the decision to spend a portion of the marketing budget on advertising was a strategic decision. Every dollar counts, and should be accounted for.

The advertiser must spend enough money to attain effective reach and frequency, allocated across media channels. However, without measuring consistently across media channels, it’s difficult to analyze post-sales data to see which ads performed and bring that insight to the next media plan.

Advertising may be packaged and sold using the following measurements:

Media MeasurementDid you happen to notice the common denominator for measurement across media channels?

Learn how to use CPM as the common denominator in your media buying, and check out some sample formulas for converting traditional media measurements to CPM. Download the complimentary white paper, CPM: The Common Denominator in Media Buying.

Optimum Scheduling for Radio Advertising: Frequency is Key

The following is a guest blog post from Bob Gramer, founder of media buying and advertising consulting company Multiple Media Consultants.


When playing the numbers games in media analysis, there are two things we are always concerned about…reach and frequency.

The goal is to reach as many target potential customers with enough frequency to make sure the message is received and understood. With radio, frequency becomes even more important since we are working with only the sense of hearing in a limited span of time.   Radio Ad Frequency

Those with limited budgets may have to sacrifice some reach in order to optimize their schedules with adequate frequency. Media gurus and consultants do not always agree on what the optimum number is when talking about frequency in radio. Most will agree that somewhere between a 3 and 5 weekly frequency will produce the best results. That is not to say that you will run 3 to 5 ads per week. It means that you will run enough ads during the week (within a given daypart) to reach a determined number of potential listeners and average of 3 (up to 5) times each.

Given budget limitations, it may be better to reduce the number of stations and/or day-parts in order to get an adequate frequency. In a small to medium sized market, your optimum schedule may be to spend $ 2,000.00, reach 15% of your demographic target, with a 3.5 frequency. If you had $ 5,000.00 to spend, your goal would be to add a station or two, maintain a 3 to 4 frequency, and increase your reach to 25-30%. This would be optimum for the budget you have to work with.

Sophisticated media buyers have the tools to provide this information to their clients. Retailers and buyers placing their own schedules may have more difficulty in determining reach and frequency.
Here is a formula to help determine how many ads it takes (within a daypart) to accomplish a frequency goal:

1. Daypart Quarter Hour (divided by) Daypart cume = X
2. Desired frequency (divided by) X = number of ads to schedule within the daypart.

Optimum Schedule - Radio - Example 1Optimum Schedule - Radio - Example 2While this formula does not consider duplication, reach, effective reach, or cost efficiency, it does give you a rudimentary way to make sure you have an adequate frequency to optimize your radio buy from the frequency perspective.

  • *Average Quarter Hour (AQH): Number of target listeners in a 15-minute segment of the broadcast daypart.
  • **Weekly Cumulative Audience (cume): total potential number of target listeners on a station…within the broadcast daypart.
  • Daypart, quarter-hour, and cume numbers can be provided by your local media rep.

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.

Where Is Your Target Audience?

We spend a lot of time talking about efficacy of the media channels used in our advertising and marketing campaigns.

Far more important than the medium, however, is the audience and the amount of time those people spend with the media channels you’re considering for a campaign. To make each impression (online or offline) count in your advertising campaign, start with a few questions to help identify your target audience’s media consumption habits:

  • How broad is the reach of a given media channel?
  • How much time does the target audience spend with each media channel considered in the mix?
  • What percentage of the target audience listens to terrestrial radio? And which format(s)?
  • How much of that audience reads the newspaper? Do they read the paper copy, or read it online?

According to a 2009 study, television still reaches the most people per day at 95%, followed by broadcast radio (77%), internet (64%), newspaper (35%), and magazines (27%). For traditional and online media, advertising spend is and continues to be disproportionate to the amount of time US adults spend with each medium, with newspapers (more spend) and internet (more time) showing the biggest gap.

An advertising campaign that uses multiple media channels to target local consumers will be most effective in reaching its intended audience. This allows media buyers to leverage the advantages of each media channel and their unique properties in the overall message delivery strategy.

Different media channels deliver different experiences to different audiences. The success of an advertising campaign ultimately depends on a combination of factors—messaging strategy, media scheduling, creative execution, and audience recall. Efficacy, then, may be measured by factors such as

  • Brand awareness
  • Memory/recall
  • Sentiment/Attitude toward brand
  • Intent to purchase
  • Purchase

This might be the ability to use emotion or sensory experience to increase recall, or deliver just enough information in just the right place or number of characters to influence the consumer to make that purchase or visit that website.

Understanding how media resonate with the audience through different levels of sensory and emotional engagement helps media buyers leverage the strengths of each advertising channel included in the campaign.

Learn how you can leverage the medium to deliver the message, or download our latest white paper, 3 Tips for Aligning Local Advertising with the Consumer Decision-Making Process.

Is Perfect Reach Perfectly Impossible?

The process of enhancing your company or your client’s company’s ability to get more customers—whether B2B, B2C, or B2B2C—is the same today as it was 100 years ago: a marketer needs to determine the best way to communicate to the greatest number of people who may be interested in the product or service.

Regardless of whether it’s traditional advertising or an interactive marketing campaign, the same three principles apply—Reach, Frequency, and Relevancy. Much like a three-legged stool, these principles must all be at work in an ad campaign for it to be effective.

A few months ago we put up a post to help define these concepts; this one touches on why those concepts matter now more than ever before.

In a fragmented media landscape and an era in which consumers are becoming more and more accustomed to getting g content and information that is tailored to them, and they have so many choices of media outlets for the content they read, listen to, view, or otherwise consume.

Reach is the number of different people in a target demographic (age, gender) that can be reached with an advertising message.

  • One-hundred-percent reach would mean the message reached all people in the demographic and geographic footprint in which you do business.
  • Perfect reach would mean reaching 100% of the target audience that you want to buy the product or service at the time you are advertising.

Neither “perfect reach” nor “100% reach” is achievable.

It could be argued that some giant brands like Coke achieve 100% reach because of their impressive brand equity and the sheer number of ads they run, but at the end of the day, perfect reach is unattainable. Why? Because Coke’s geographic footprint is worldwide, and there are still parts of the world that don’t watch television, listen to radio, read newspapers, or have the internet. That said, Coke’s reach is still impressive, likely 90% in the US alone.

Optimum Effective Reach

Frequency is the number of different times you reach a target audience (demographic) with your message. The proper amount of frequency needed in order to get someone to take action or remember your brand is an ongoing debate.

Regardless, herein lays the opportunity to enhance a combine by using the right mix of reach and frequency. An old rule of thumb some brand advertisers use for optimum effective reach is trying to reach a target audience three times within a reasonable time period (such as monthly) or several times over a longer period of time. Really, the appropriate reach varies depending on a number of different factors, such as

  • The price of the product or service being advertised
  • Whether the message is passive or intrusive
  • The stage of the buying cycle a consumer is in when they are reached for the first time (granted, different for a restaurant advertiser and an automotive advertiser)
  • The type of product being sold
  • Whether it’s a brand message or a call to action

But What Does it Mean to Me and Why Should I Care? Relevancy is trying to develop the appropriate content and creative elements for an advertisement to get your message to the target audience as succinctly as possible. They need to know...

  • What you do
  • How it can solve a need or want they have now or in the future
  • How they can obtain the product or service when they need or want to

This is why reach and frequency alone are not enough for a successful advertising campaign.

The Three-Legged Stool

And the nirvana for marketers in terms of reach, frequency, and relevancy? Getting the Right Message to the Right Person at the Right Time – reaching someone in the target audience with the right information at the time they want to purchase.

To get there, Reach, Frequency, and Relevancy must all be in play to ensure effectiveness of an advertising campaign.

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