Ever since digital advertising became an important tool in the marketer’s toolbox, one question that has continued to be asked has been: “Should marketers focus more on driving reach or frequency of exposure?”
Differences of opinion abound among experts. The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, a marketing research institute at the University of South Australia, has concluded that the optimal frequency (in terms of return on investment) is one time.1 However, other industry research claims that consumers who saw an ad 10 or more times exhibit a greater level of purchase interest than consumers exposed fewer than 10 times.2
So what is the optimal mix of reach versus frequency with regard to digital advertising? What should News America Marketing’s (NAM) point of view on this debate?
The primary objective of this report is to provide NAM’s Digital Sales team with a point-of-view regarding the reach versus frequency debate that can be shared with our clients. Such information will also be helpful help our clients set up and optimize their digital campaigns.
Some of the questions we hope to answer:
- Is there a truly optimal mix of reach versus frequency? If so, what is it?
- To what degree does this mix differ depending on the client’s KPI?
- Lift in brand awareness?
- Lift in purchase intent?
- Lift in sales?
So what is the right mix of reach and frequency for a digital campaign? The simple answer is: it depends. It depends on the goals and objectives of the campaign. Is the campaign meant to drive long-term brand equity or to drive attitudes or behaviors in the short-term?
Before determining the proper mix of reach and frequency, it’s crucial to define the campaign’s success criteria. Different KPIs will require different mixes of reach and frequency in order to be most effective.
In the digital age, reach is becoming increasingly important (although one could argue it’s always been important). Major CPG manufacturers such as Reckitt Benckiser and Procter & Gamble have sought to increase reach via the use of influencers, shifting TV advertising to more broadly appealing programming, and higher-reach digital platforms.3
According to Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, too many marketers are missing out on potential purchasers because they define their audiences too narrowly.4 Other CPGs like Reckitt have taken that approach to heart, and have been looking for ways to maximize reach on its campaigns.
Why the focus on reach? According to Efrain Ayala, Social Media & Mobile Manager/North America & Europe for Reckitt:
“It’s very clear for fast-moving consumer goods that there’s a direct correlation between reach and sales, so we need to map out the right reach. It’s about stacking the right audiences together so we can get to the scale efficiently.“5
That said, if the purpose of the campaign is to drive sales by increasing brand equity, the effects will be evident after a longer period time has elapsed (generally six months or longer).6