Marketing 108

Did you know that frequency is the key to getting results in advertising?

  1. The first time a man looks at an advertisement, he does not see it.
  2. The second time, he does not notice it.
  3. The third time, he is conscious of its existence.
  4. The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it before.
  5. The fifth time, he reads it.
  6. The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it.
  7. The seventh time, he reads it through and says, "Oh brother!"
  8. The eighth time, he says, "Here's that confounded thing again!"
  9. The ninth time, he wonders if it amounts to anything.
  10. The tenth time, he asks his neighbor if he has tried it
  11. The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
  12. The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing.
  13. The thirteenth time, he thinks perhaps it might be worth something.
  14. The fourteenth time, he remembers wanting such a thing a long time.
  15. The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it.
  16. The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it some day.
  17. The seventeenth time, he makes a memorandum to buy it.
  18. The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty.
  19. The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully.
  20. The twentieth time he sees the ad, he buys what it is offering.

Thomas Smith of London in l885.

Advertisers have debated the question of reach vs. frequency for over 100 years and there are proponents of both sides who believe they are right. One side maintains that your creative message should reach as many prospects as possible and the other believes that the amount of times a prospect is impacted by a message is more important. The quote from Thomas Smith of London dating back to 1885 reveals the answer; that is, frequency of message is the answer.

Let's examine the different media options as they relate to the issue of frequency. First, radio. Radio advertising is the one vehicle that gives you the opportunity to deliver your marketing message with solid frequency. The cost of a 30 or 60 second commercial is generally affordable enough so that you can purchase a minimum of 3 per day over a one week period. The cost of 21 radio commercials per week may be equivalent to one quarter or half page newspaper ad depending on the publication and its circulation. When purchasing a radio campaign, make certain that your schedule has a minimum level of frequency over a prescribed period of time. In other words, a 52 week schedule enables you to run 21 commercials per week, whereas a 13 week schedule should run 35 commercials per week. Any radio campaign should be booked in 13 week increments with 13 as a minimum and 52 as a maximum. Despite the high frequency levels, nothing happens overnight, so you must have patience and you will realize results within 4 – 6 weeks.

Second, television. The two challenges that you face in buying broadcast television with respect to frequency are cost and fragmentation of audience. Television is more of a reach medium and because of the high cost per commercial scheduled, you must have a substantial budget to make an impact on the viewers. Cable is a secondary option, but the audience levels are drastically lower. The only other option is "horizontal scheduling" which simply means buying a specific program like the Oprah Winfrey show and making certain that you have enough frequency over the course of the campaign. The audience levels of mainstream broadcast television have dropped from 70% to 36% over the last 15 years with the emergence of specialty cable channels, so the process of deciding where to invest your dollars has become more difficult.

Third, newspapers. In my opinion, newspapers are probably the last choice among media options, based on cost and of course, frequency. One ad in one newspaper on one given day will generally produce next to nothing unless the offer is very compelling. Less and less adults are spending time with the newspaper vs. radio and television and even if you read a daily, there is no guarantee that your ad will be seen. The average full page ad reaches less than 50% of the readers of any newspaper and unfortunately with a frequency of 1. Would you rather schedule 21 commercials per week on a radio station that targets your demographic profile, or one ad per week in a newspaper that talks to everyone. One of the key principles of marketing is that "you can't be all things to all people". Finally, circulation is decreasing dramatically and costs are increasing.

Only 65% of consumers read a daily and spend an average of only 2.9 hours per week reading the newspaper. Almost all consumers ( 96% ) listen to the radio and the average listener tunes in for about 21 hours weekly; television is the same. Broadcast media occupy approximately 75% of our media day leaving the balance for newspapers, the internet and magazines. As a matter of fact, magazines are poised to move ahead of newspaper on a percentage basis and this is comparing a monthly offering to a daily offering.

More information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5000. One weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in seventeenth century England. The average consumer is exposed to 3,000 advertising messages daily, there are 12,000 radio stations in the US and a consumer has access to upwards of 500 TV channels. Is frequency important? With the proliferation of choices and information available today, it is essential to marketing success.