top of page

Reach and Frequency – The Bedrock of Media Buying and Planning

As the world of media buying and planning continues to evolve, new marketing metrics have infiltrated the media scene. Metrics like conversions, CPA, and ROAS have become increasingly popular for advertisers everywhere, including us. At The Ward Group, we're big fans of these metrics and the insights they provide into our clients' marketing efforts. We love digging into campaign analytics, keeping up with real-time reporting dashboards, and helping clients understand how their ad spend affects and shapes their overall business objectives.

But while these metrics are valuable in many situations, they're not always the best fit for every channel or campaign. Traditional mediums like TV, radio, out of home, and print often lack the same level of trackability as digital channels, and consumers interact with them in different ways. For these mediums, building brand awareness for the long term through good old reach and frequency remains a critical part of any successful advertising strategy.

Gasp! You mean to say you don’t focus on short-term business success as the true measure of every media activation?

Precisely - in today's analytics-driven culture, it's easy to get caught up in measuring every aspect of our marketing efforts. But when it comes to building lasting brand equity, there's no substitute for the power of mass media advertising. By reaching a broad audience with consistent messaging over time, we can establish top-of-mind awareness and lay the foundation for long-term success. Of course, we still expect to see some short-term impact from our media spend, but the ultimate goal is to create a lasting connection with our target audience. This requires a focus on reach and frequency, rather than relying on specific metrics or dashboards to gauge success.

Reach and frequency and media buyers and planners go way back. They are, in the words of Forrest Gump, like peas and carrots. We can’t imagine a world of media buying and planning without reach and frequency. Reach is defined as how many people an ad is delivered to in a particular campaign. If you serve an ad to 100 people, then your reach is 100. Meanwhile, frequency is a measure of how many times an ad is served to the same person. If 400 impressions are served to 100 people, that means your frequency is a 4. Taken together, reach and frequency provide a way for media buyers & planners to determine the impact their message is making upon the minds of their target audience.

Why is reach important? Well, that’s obvious. Brands need to reach as many people as possible in order to make a lasting impression on their target audience. For example, a national soda brand or insurance provider would not benefit from having their ad seen by only a handful of people. While digital media has its advantages in terms of trackability, we encourage brands to consider the power of traditional mass media in providing broad reach and perceived quality. While reach may not be as easily quantifiable as other metrics, it can be just as impactful, if not more so, in building brand awareness and equity.

However, in today's saturated media landscape, consumers are bombarded with countless ads every day. So, if you want your brand to stand out and make a lasting impression, you need to do more than just reach a large number of people - you need to do it repeatedly. That's where frequency comes in. By showing your ads to your target audience multiple times, you increase the chances of your message sticking with them and influencing their decisions. After all, repetition is key to memory retention. That's why, when creating a media plan, it's important to balance reach and frequency, ensuring that your ads are seen by as many people as possible, as often as possible.

So, we've established that achieving effective reach and frequency is crucial for successful brand awareness campaigns, but it's not enough to rely on just one platform. With the abundance of ads bombarding consumers across various media channels, it's essential to have a solid media mix that diversifies your touchpoints. Consumers encounter thousands of advertisements on cell phones, TVs, billboards, newspapers, magazines, and email every day. As media buyers and planners, we know that incorporating at least three different mediums in our plans will enhance our reach and frequency efforts. A strong media mix not only expands our audience reach but also increases the chances of our message resonating with potential customers on various touchpoints. By diversifying our media channels, we create a more well-rounded advertising strategy that can capture the attention of our target audience across multiple platforms.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the prevalence of digital media has led to a neglect of the big picture and long-term strategic planning. Some marketers and advertisers have come to believe that advertising efforts must be fully trackable and attributable to actions in order to be worthwhile. However, this belief is misguided. Brands that adhere to the fundamental principles of advertising are the ones that will ultimately succeed. It is important to note that while analytics are valuable, the most effective media plans and buys are a combination of online and offline media that utilize each medium to achieve its intended purpose. For instance, a radio buy may not generate trackable online purchases, just as paid search ads may not drive mass awareness. By prioritizing reach and frequency in offline channels and leveraging digital media for its trackability, we can focus on the bigger picture and overall strategy, and avoid getting sidetracked by false assumptions.

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page