Media buying should be approached with a strategy that identifies targets, determines the most effective outlets for reaching them and considers a mixture of outlets and ad schedules.
How much is enough? That’s a common question when considering how many advertisements to place in a particular medium to reach and impact a target audience. Advertisers often refer to various theories to determine the number of ads they need to place, but is there really a magic number of advertising exposures needed to transform a target into a customer?
A common theory, often called the three-plus rule, is credited to two different researchers that studied advertising exposures in relation to consumer behavior in the 1960s and 1970s. In the most basic terms the theory states that advertising targets must be exposed to a message at least three times before one can expect to have achieved any sort of impact. Current industry opinion nudges the figure to a range of five to seven impressions for minimum impact, and up to 11 impressions to inspire action. The larger question is where, how often and how many advertisements should be placed in a given medium in order to achieve this impact.
Competition and clutter are major considerations that affect ad placement. With countless avenues for exposure, from broadcasting sources and printed publications to Web, outdoor, and others, messages can be easily lost in the shuffle. Some advertising outlets, such as radio or television, require placing ads at a much higher frequency to achieve impact. For example, radio advertisers often place five 60-second spots per day, three days per week, over a 30-day schedule. By contrast, achieving impact in a weekly newspaper may be accomplished by running a quarter-page ad seven times over a three-month period. Trade journals, which are usually published on a monthly basis, often require an advertising frequency of seven to 10 times in order to impact a target.
Create a Strategy
Media buying should be approached with a strategy that identifies targets, determines the most effective outlets for reaching them and considers a mixture of outlets and ad schedules. Planning advertisements in this manner allows advertisers to make the most out of each outlet’s strengths, and impacts targets on more than one level. For example, a target consumer could hear your commercial on the radio during the morning commute, notice your billboard a few minutes later and then notice your display ad in the newspaper. In this scenario, the advertiser has achieved three impressions, which were likely to be more memorable than if the target had simply heard three radio commercials within a given week.
Maintain the Message
It’s also important for your advertising strategy to consider the content of your advertisements. Consistency is key. Placing print advertisements that contain a different message than what is appearing in your television commercials can limit your overall impact. Make sure all efforts position your company brand consistently.
Successful advertising is the result of careful planning and execution. While there is no magic formula for exposing targets to your advertising message, a well-defined strategy can accomplish the results you wish to achieve. Trained marketing planners and media buyers can help guide you through the media maze and achieve the greatest impact with your target consumers.