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Basics of Measurement: Reach vs Frequency

December 6, 2022

Is Reach or Frequency more Important?

In OOH there are a number of ways to calculate the effectiveness of your campaign. Depending on your campaign’s overall goals and KPIs, one consideration is whether you should prioritize a high reach or a high frequency. Though both of these numbers would hit your target goals in an ideal world, there are occasions when it is more important to prioritize one over the other.

In this article, you will learn the difference between reach and frequency and what situations are best for prioritizing one over the other. For a more in-depth explanation of OOH measurement basics including definitions of reach, frequency, and impressions and how they are calculated, visit this article.

What is the Difference Between Reach and Frequency?

Though both reach and frequency can give you an idea of how many eyes were on your campaign, they are calculated differently. Reach is calculated as a percent of the total market and shows how many individuals saw media from your campaign at least once. Reach counts each person who viewed your campaign only one time, even if they were exposed to your campaign multiple times. 

On the other hand, frequency shows the average number of times one person is exposed to a message. Usually, a message must be experienced at least three times to be effective, but some advertisers may set higher goals of 5 or 7 touches. This is called the Effective Frequency rate. 

In short, reach shows how many individual sets of eyes were on your campaign, whereas frequency counts how many times those eyes saw your campaign.

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Many advertisers may prioritize reach over frequency, thinking that more eyes on the advertisement are better, but without frequency, your placements are likely to be seen one time and quickly forgotten. Likewise, if you prioritize frequency over reach then a few people may see your ads many times but there won’t be enough people in that audience for your campaign to have the desired influence. 

This makes a balance between reach and frequency crucial to your success, but you must also consider both your budget constraints and what scenarios may lead you to prioritize one over the other.

When Should I Focus On Measuring Reach? 

Reach is useful when you want to expand your brand presence or services in a market. There are a few key scenarios where you may consider prioritizing a high reach over frequency in your campaign:

Expanding Brand Awareness in your Target Market

If you are looking to reach your ideal customer in a specific market, then many consumers may not be aware of your business. A campaign that focuses on reach builds that awareness and can grow your customer base.

New Product or Service Introductions

Likewise, if you are an established brand that wants to introduce a new product or service or to introduce a product or service to a new market then you want to have as many eyes as possible on your OOH creatives. This lets a wide swath of potential customers know that you have a new offering. This is also true for seasonal products, services or sales, which can excite viewers and encourage them to check out your latest promotions.

Lack of Competition 

When you have a niche offering that doesn’t have much competition from similar brands, then you may prioritize reach as there won’t be others in that market vying for your customers’ attention.

When Should I Focus On Measuring Frequency? 

Frequency should be your priority when you already know your target audience and want to focus on driving sales rather than pure brand awareness and recognition. Here are a few scenarios:

Brand Awareness

If you have a new brand that you want to break into the public consciousness in a local, regional or national market, you should focus more of your budget on frequency and overall impressions. Yes, brand awareness can be used to prioritize either reach or frequency depending upon the market, the overall campaign goals and the strategy used to reach your target audience. 

Building Trust

Repeat exposures create feelings of familiarity and comfort with your audience. This creates trust in the minds of your target audience.

Getting Ahead of the Competition 

In markets or industries where you face a lot of competition, frequency is key. It helps your brand to stand out and “break through the noise” of your competitors.

Niche Audiences 

When you have a very specific market, reaching a larger audience that would have no interest in your offerings is not profitable. Additionally, your messaging may translate poorly to those who are outside your target audience. 

Audiences that are Ready to Buy 

If your audience is ready to make a purchase, your brand stays top of mind through frequency. By focusing on frequency, you can catch them when they are ready to act on a sale.

Why Both are Important to a Successful Campaign

There are many variables to consider when determining whether to maximize reach vs frequency. Depending upon other factors and goals, you may determine other reasons to prioritize reach over frequency or vice versa. 

Our team of Media Planners helps decide which metrics to focus on based on your campaign KPIs and goals. There are many elements that go into creating the most impactful plans including the market conditions, the formats available and who you are trying to reach. There is no “one size fits all” answer to how you should prioritize your campaign goals for reach, frequency and impressions.

How are Reach and Frequency Bought? 

Rather than being bought, reach and frequency are an outcome to your campaign. When planning, typically clients will come to us with a budget for how much they can spend on their campaign or with specific reach and frequency goals. At Billups, we use measurement tools to create a plan that matches our clients’ impressions, reach and frequency goals.

Working with an Out-of-Home Specialist like Billups can help you understand what variables are most important to determine the most effective campaign. We will work with you to understand the nuances of your creative approach and what placements would be the most effective for your goals.

Plan your Next Campaign with Billups! 

Billups is here to help you plan, execute and understand your OOH campaigns. Our experienced planners can talk to you about your campaign goals and help you develop priorities and find placements that will fulfill your goals. Ready to get started on your next outdoor advertising campaign? Submit an RFP today!

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