16 - Advertising Reach and Frequency The probability of...

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Unformatted text preview: Advertising Reach and Frequency The probability of perceiving a TV commercial three times increases up to 12 contacts! Howard Kamin The concepts of reach and frequency as a measurement of campaign-message delivery have been with us for at least 25 years. Most media strategies now include a statement of whether the brand is to maximize reach (i.e.. the number or per cent of different target individuals exposed at least once to a schedule) or emphasize frequency (i.e.. the number of times an individual reached is exposed to a brand message). The media mix selected by the planner is usually the one that offers on balance the best strategic combination of reach and frequency over a specified cam- paign period. High levels of reach and frequency do not necessarily mean equally high brand awareness levels or advertising recall. It is not unusual for a media planner to report that the recommended media mix saturated the target audience during the advertising flight by reaching over 90 per cent of prospects an average of 8.0 times each. But if the commercial was positioned and targeted correctly and the media—reach delivery so high, why were only 23 per cent of consumers able to provide top—of-mind brand aware— ness? And why did only 12 per cent remember seeing or healing brand advertising during the past month? One of the answers to the syndrome of high media reach and low advertising awareness has to be that most advertis— ers fail to understand that reach is merely a potential measurement. When the media man talks of a reach of 90 per cent. this reach is based on the upper limits of exposure as determined from ratings developed by the syndi- cated research services. For example, Nielsen‘s average audience rating is a measure of potential viewing in that it reports a set tuned on and someone in the room viewing the program. We know from Burke related recall scores that only about 70 per cent of the pro— gram audience is available to view the commerical and only about 20 to 25 per cent of the commercial viewers can recall anything about the commercial. In print, reach is also predicated on potential exposure. Simmons or TGI measures not the exposure to the adver— tising page, but merely to the issue. According to Starch measurements, on average only about 25 per cent of a mag— azine‘s primary readers can associate a black-and-white page ad with the brand advertised. We all understand that only a small portion of advertising is fully perceived at any time, but we often overlook this in being presented with the reach details of a plan. What we tend to remember is the euphoria of high 90—per-cent-plus- reach delivery. While these estimates are valid, we tend to forget that the 90 per cent plus reach is a product of rat- ings which reflect potential exposure. What should be reported, however, is effective reach. That is, to be meaning- ful, media reach and frequency mea- surements must be related to advertising communication goals. Frequency Distribution Analysis Media planners have for some time looked beyond broad reach and fre- quency because measures of broad reach tend to obscure variations in 21 Journal ofAdvertising Research delivery. In other words, just analyzing reach and frequency averages tends to deceive. Sophisticated planners analyze the breakdown of reach by frequency levels so that they can relate this media measurement to communication goals. The frequency distribution analysis in Table 1 shows that an eight-week TV flight reaches 78 per cent of males with an average frequency of 5.1 contacts. In evaluating the frequency distribution, we note that many male viewers are potentially exposed to relatively few commercials, and few see many. For example, almost 40 per cent of the male reach is potentially exposed three or less times, and fewer than 10 per cent are potentially exposed more than 10 times. When a planner analyzes the distribu- tion of reach by frequency levels, there are two complexities to consider. First, the planner must continue to be aware that frequency distribution analyses are Table 1 Estimated Frequency Distribution of Exposures, Males 18 + (50 Fringe/Prime Male GRPs/Wk. x Eight Weeks) Vehicle Exposure % Males 18+ Frequency (Potential) Reached 1 15.3 1 2 12.3 37.5 3 9.9 i 4 7.9 5 6.4 6 5.1 7 4.1 8 3.3 9 2.7 10 2.2 11 1.7 12 1.4 13 1.1 14 .9 15 .7 16 .6 8.8 17 .5 18 .4 19 .3 20 .2 21+ A) Net Reach 78.0 Avg. Frequency 5.1 Male GRPs 400 22 Table 2 Reach Delivery of Alternative Effective Frequency Levels Eflective Frequency Criteria % Male Reach 2+ 62.7 2—10 53.9 3+ 50.4 3—10 41.6 4+ 42.5 4—12 36.8 5+ 32.6 5—15 29.6 6+ 26.2 6—20 25.2 based on potential (i.e., the number of magazines people looked into or the number of programs they viewed, not exposure to or perception of the ad or commercial). Second, frequency distri- butions are complex measurements with many variables to analyze. This makes them difficult to evaluate. The planner has to determine and support the con- clusion of what is effective frequency for a given brand. There is no definitive study on the effect of frequency on advertising communications, and the planner is hard-pressed to defend any plan recommended on the basis of an analysis of reach by frequency levels. Judgments about minimum and maxi- mum efiective frequency are open to question. There could be many permutations of effective frequency and resulting reach. For example, in analyzing Table 1, which shows the frequency distribution of a schedule of 50 fringe male GRPs/week >< eight weeks (78—per-cent reach) across alternative effective frequency levels, we can begin to see the complex- ities in arriving at this judgment. If the planner believes effective frequency is potentially contacting males two or more times, the reach in terms of this effective criterion is 62.7 per cent. If the planner believes that there are minimum and maximum criteria and sets goals of effective frequency between 2 to 10 con- tacts, the reach in terms of this fre- quency criterion is 53.9 per cent. Table 2 outlines some of the alternatives a planner might develop. We can con— clude that analysis of frequency distri- bution does not clarify media planning. If analysis of frequency distribution is to become meaningful, an effective fre- quency philosophy must be developed based on communication values. Evidence of Communication Research There is a surprising amount of research evidence in the public domain. Most advertising has as its objective to capture attention and maintain aware- ness. Researchers for this reason have measured the effect of frequency based on communication goals. Thus, if we accept communication measurements, there is available research now in the public domain that could allow planners to judgmentally set frequency goals to provide better direction in media planning. Learning Peak. Jacobvits (1966) and Appel (1966) found that awareness and learning peak when a person is exposed to verbal stimuli. At first, learning increases. This is called generation. Then, the individual reaches a maxi- mum, called the satiation point. Leam- ing then declines as an individual becomes satiated. This generalized the- ory did not, however, provide a specific point of frequency where satiation occurred, but for the first time there was postulated a point of advertising dimin- ishing returns. At the Advertising Research Fonnda- tion conference in 1968, research con— ducted by the du Pont Company pro- vided initial insight and supported the earlier Jacobvits and Appel theory. Communication, according to du Pont, tends to peak somewhere between three to five real exposures. Moreover, once the amount of information learned is maximized, additional exposures tend to be rejected by consumers, and over- commercialization beyond this thresh— old level may increase consumer nega- tive reaction. The “Three-Hit” Theory. The latest pronouncement regarding the effect of frequency on communication is based on the continuing work of Herbert Krugman. Krugman‘s (1975) “Three— Hit" theory is that if a person has actually seen (perceived) a commercial three times, he has learned what the product is. the benefits offered, and, finally. by the third commercial, whether the product fulfills his individ- ual needs. Krugman. in his theory, which covers a variety of converging research findings from eye-camera research to the more conventional com— munication studies, concludes that it is pointless to advertise too little—Le. with a frequency of less than three actual exposures—and is counterpro— ductive to advertise too much. Overcom— mercialization may increase negative reaction to the brand. Krugman recom- mends that advertising schedules be evaluated by analyzing real frequency distributions, and media selection be determined by the optimum exposure range based on his "Three—Hit" theory. The appeal of a theory that specifies a meaningful, objective frequency crite- rion in a discipline that is more often described as an art rather than a science is compelling. The historical communi- cation-research evidence does support the fact that awareness and learning peak after relatively few exposures and Howard Kamin is a senior vice-president and director of Richard K. Manoff’s media department. Kamin has an M.B.A. from Baruch College, and has written a chapter on radio and TV advertising for the textbook Business Mathematics for College Students. that no further gain is evidenced. We cannot, however, categorically accept the “Three—Hit“ theory as postulated until we semantically define what kind of communication constitutes a hit and explain how to utilize current media research to implement the theory. The “Three Hits“ refer to actual per— ception of the advertising message. There is a difference between vehicle exposure and actual exposure of per- ceived messages. The mere presence of an advertisement within a medium does not assure that the reader/viewer will be exposed and that the message will be perceived. Krugman recognizes this when he notes that only a small portion of advertising is fully perceived at any time. In other words, an advertising “hit” is made when a reader/viewer per ceives the message and one or more of the points in the advertisement is com— municated and absorbed. Estimate of Effective Frequency Advertising media research has not developed to the point where anyone can confidently estimate the advertising perception of a schedule distributed by frequency. The frequency distributions that are currently available to the media planner are estimated on the basis of potential opportunities of exposure— vehicle exposure. Perception, not vehi- cle exposure, is the foundation of the "Three-Hit” theory. But we cannot develop frequency distribution as yet on the basis of perceived messages. Yet we can utilize the imprecise tools at our disposal to hypothesize that to achieve three effective hits, an adver— tiser has to significantly expand the range of potential vehicle exposure. In order to get a consumer to actually per— ceive a commercial three times requires many more potential opportunities of exposure. To support this hypothesis we have analyzed the eight-week spot TV schedule of 50 fringe/prime male gross rating points per week (Table 1). This schedule is estimated to reach over the campaign period 78 per cent of males with an average frequency of 5.1. Additionally. Table 1 shows the distri— Volume 18, Number 1, February 1978 bution of vehicle frequency. In order to apply the “Three-Hit” theory in analyz- ing this schedule, we have to know the probability at each frequency level of the commercial being perceived by viewers exactly three times. To do this requires the following assumptions: (1) An eight-week campaign is the proper time frame to implement the Krugman theory. The proper time sequence should be related to the brand’s purchase cycle. Krugman does not set time parameters for his “Three—Hit” theory since he does not believe people forget what they see, and any third or subsequent contact triggers a preconditioned response, regardless of the time gap between exposures. (2) Commercial related recall is a mea- sure of perception. For purposes of analysis, it is assumed (based on average Burke scores) that 25 per cent of the audience available to the commercial can recall its contents when questioned 24 hours later. (3) Estimating the probability at each frequency level of the commercial being perceived exactly three times is an independent event and can be described using a binomial formula. That is, we are assuming that each individual has a 25—per—cent chance of perceiving the commercial regardless of the viewing frequency. The probability of exposing viewers to exactly three commercials at each potential frequency level has been esti- mated in Figure 1. The distribution takes the form of the normal curve. The highest probability of exposure to exactly three ads is at 11 to 12 potential contacts. What this means is that there is a probability that 26 per cent of view- ers exposed to 12 commercials could recall exactly 3 commercials. The prob— ability of perceiving a commercial three times increases up to 12 contacts. Beyond this optimal point there is a fall- ofl‘ in the probability of seeing exactly three commercials. Increases in fre- quency between 12 and 20 are effective, but less efficient. After 20 contacts the probability of perceiving three commer— cials has been cut in half. Individuals 23 Journal ofAdvertising Research m Figure 1 Estimated Probability Distribution of Actual Exposure to Exactly Three Ads at Potential Frequency Levels % Probability 33 of Three Exposures 30 (Based on Recall Average 25%) 27 24 ll 21 11 Point 1| 11 11 II II II ll II II Underexposed |35791113 26‘7. / ‘ Optimum Effective but i Less Efficient To Be Read: The estimated probability ofexposure to exactly three ads is highest at II to 12 potential contact5726 per cent of viewers exposed to 11 contacts saw exactly three ads. 12% Overexposed Range Media Potential 15 l7 I9 21 23 25 27 29 31 Frequency with a potential contact frequency of over 20 are perhaps receiving excessive exposure beyond the levels required to implement the “Three—Hit” theory. On the other hand, individuals with a poten- tial frequency below 5 have an inade- quate degree of frequency, and the probability of securing exactly three contacts are low. (There is an underutili- zation of media below 12 contacts.) Thus, to optimize exactly three expo- sures, the average potential frequency must be on the order of 11 to 12 con- tacts. The emerging hypothesis in set- ting effective frequency rauges is that they should be set broadly as opposed to setting narrow ranges. Based on the given assumptions, we believe a fre- quency range of between 5 and 20 con- tacts correlates more closely with actual communication than do frequency crite- ria of 2 to 4 or 3 to 10 contacts. Practical Use of Effective Frequency Ranges How does the effective frequency concept work in actual practice? 24 Two eight—week spot TV schedules in the top 30 markets designed to reach male adults are under consideration. Each schedule costs approximately $800,000. Schedule A consists of a com- bination of four to five fringe and two prime-time 30—second announcements per week for a total of 50 male GRPs per week. The campaign reach is 78 per cent; average frequency 5.1 (Table 1). Schedule B consists of all fringe sched- ule of 11 fringe 30-second announce- ments per week and a total of 70 male GRPs per week. The campaign reach is 78 per cent: average frequency, 7.2 (Table 3). On the basis of overall reach both schedules deliver the same reach against target. Schedule B delivers more fre- quency and tonnage, but the use of fringe may be less desirable from a trade point of view than a combination of prime and fringe announcements. If we analyze the frequency distribu- tion of the reach of these two schedules at the 5-t0—20 effective criterion to implement the "Three-Hit” concept. we determine that Schedule A reaches 32 per cent of males who receive between 5 and 20 contacts. Schedule B reaches 39 per cent of males who receive between 5 and 20 contacts. On the basis of an effective frequency criterion, Schedule B is preferred since its reach levels more closely translate to communication goals under the “Three- Hit” theory. In media terms, at no addi— tional cost, the advertiser receives 22 per cent more effective unduplicated contacts. Summary Reach and frequency can become more meaningful measurements for media planning if they are translated to an effective frequency concept. If we understand the use of frequency distri- bution analysis and set potential fre- quency range objectives that relate to communication goals, we reach several conclusions. Table 3 Estimated Frequency Distribution of Exposures Males 18 + (70 Fringe Male GRPs/Wk. x Weeks) Vehicle Exposure ‘70 Males 18+ Frequency (Potential) Reached 1 10.8 2 9.3 3 8.0 4 6.9 5 6.0 6 5.1 7 4.4 8 3.8 9 3.3 10 2.8 11 2.4 12 2.1 13 1.8 14 1.6 15 1.4 16 1.2 17 1.0 18 .9 l9 .8 20 .6 21+ 7978 Net Reach 78.0 Avg. Frequency 7.2 Male GRPs 560 ——_—I— (1) Overall measures of potential reach and frequency are merely the start- ing points of evaluation. They are boxcar numbers. Reach and fre- quency measurements represent potential values that do not provide a planner insight to how reach varies factored into the media analysis. As long as this is so, media planning will remain an art, not a science. But at least judgment, an ever—important determinant, will be disciplined by certain parameters and objective approaches. Volume 18, Number 1, February 1978 National Industrial Conference Board, October 28, 1966. Jacobvits, L. Semantic Satiation and Cognitive Dynamics. Paper presented to American Psychological Association by frequency level and expectant Meeting, September 4,1966. communication. (2) Analysis of frequency distributions are a necessary first step. Fre— quency distributions are difficult to compare and analyze. They can be used to explore variations between schedules if we remember that they report vehicle exposure and are potential measurements that do not relate to actual perceived commer— cial communication. (3) Implementing the “Three—Hit” con— cept of effective communication requires far more potential fre- quency than has been believed. The probability of perceiving a commer- cial three times increases up to 12 contacts. Beyond this point there is a fall-off, and while the increase in frequency may be effective, it is a less efficient use of funds. Setting 5 to 20 potential contacts as efl'ective frequency is a reasonably good translation that relates to the adver- tising contacts postulated by the “Three-Hit” theory. Under an effective frequency criterion, ad recall and brand awareness may correlate better with reach measurements. (4) Setting efi‘ective frequency levels will require larger budgets, higher GRP goals, and less reliance on pure reach maximization. Pure reach maximization as normally uti- lized Via media mix strategies will become less desirable than concen- trating efforts in one media type to maximize frequency up to desirable levels based on communication goals. If frequency becomes an N.E_ important concept, media like day- time TV, radio, and outdoor that tend to be regarded as oriented toward frequency will get greater consideration. Of course, communi- cation impact must be judgmentally References Krugman, Herbert. What Makes Adver- tising Effective? Harvard Business Review, Vol. 23, No. 2, March—April 1975, pp. 96—103. Appel, V. The Reliability and Decay of Advertising Measurements. Paper pre- sented to Marketing Conference of the northeast field acts announces... the system is GO! ‘ ...we understand that there are some people who are still collecting data on clipboards...we guess that they just have not heard of the new system that we're installing in central locations throughout the country...write or call us for a complete description of the system. . .(617) 872-8884 Field Facts main office: 24 River Street., Framingham, Ma...other locations: Dedham, Methuen, Worcester, Ma ...Bridgeport, Conn...Schenectady.N.Y. ZS ...
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16 - Advertising Reach and Frequency The probability of...

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