Mediagistic Blog

Total Recall: Determining Reach & Frequency Goals for Your Media Campaign

Lindsay Hamill

You want your television and radio advertising campaigns to help increase your client base, boost sales, and strengthen loyalty. However, what metrics are you using to determine when you’re meeting these goals?

Along with gross rating points (GRP), reach and frequency are some of the most essential numbers to figure out advertising effectiveness. Understanding these metrics will help you achieve your short- and long-term advertising goals.

Understanding Reach

Reach is the percentage of targets who are exposed to your media at least once during a predetermined period of time. Your brand needs at least 50 percent reach to survive, but higher reach is always better, particularly at the beginning of a new campaign. The highest reach you can typically achieve is 99 percent.

To properly determine reach, you need to define who your target audience is. Reach isn’t a percentage of total customers, but rather a percentage of a specified audience. For example, you may want to reach homeowners in a particular metropolitan area or within a certain demographic. You will determine how many people you want to connect to within this audience and calculate the reach of your campaign as a percentage of that.

Figuring out Frequency

Frequency is the average number of times a household is exposed to your campaign over a set period of time. It’s found by dividing your campaign’s total GRP by its reach; however, the real trick lies in figuring out your campaign’s optimal frequency to achieve maximum effectiveness. In academic circles, the process for figuring this out is known as “frequency value planning.”

The lowest average frequency is 2 or 3, while the highest average frequency is 12. While you want to increase frequency beyond a single exposure, customers can experience burnout if the frequency is too high for too long. However, in some cases, a hyper-frequent campaign can be invaluable for drowning out your competition and getting faster recognition from your audience.

Frequency versus Reach: Which Matters Most?

Both reach and frequency are important to consider throughout the lifecycle of your campaign. But the value you place on these metrics really depends on your goals and the buying cycle for your product.

Reach should be a high priority with a new campaign. If you’re promoting new products, packaging, or distribution, then reach is where you want to focus. Concentrating on reach is also more effective with a broad demographic.

Frequency is a more important metric for facing stiff competition in your industry. When you’re struggling to establish yourself as an industry leader with your targeted audience, frequency is your primary focus. Frequency is most important for a narrowly defined audience within a very specific demographic.

Having a professional media buying team on your side will help you understand the finer points of frequency and reach and target the right numbers for each campaign. Mediagistic uses a proven, evidence-based approach to help our clients determine the reach and frequency goals of all their media buys. Our media planning team has the experience to achieve the optimal reach and frequency for your campaigns with as little waste as possible.

Lindsay Hamill is a Senior Key Account Media Manager at Mediagistic. She specializes in helping clients plan and execute robust media campaigns, which includes helping to determine reach & frequency goals.


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