Revisiting Reach — The Promise of Cross-Platform Planning

February 18, 2013

Watching TV the other night, I saw an ad for Brand X. And another. And another and another. After the fourth viewing, I thought “Enough! How many times do I need to see the same ad during the same program?”

Maximizing the audience reached at 1+ frequency—meaning that as many consumers as possible see your ad at least one time—has been gospel truth for many years now. The prevalence of media platforms and the ability to create integrated campaigns present additional challenges to achieving frequency control and unduplicated reach.

But they also bring great opportunity. The best media plan uses each platform to reach a different audience, rather than running the campaign as separate, independent plans for each platform.

Reaching Everyone in Your Intended Audience – the Impossible Dream?

Even in the broad world of TV, I’ve seen over the years that it’s really difficult to reach much more than 80 percent of your intended audience, no matter how much you spend.

A standard media plan typically bombards the heaviest 20 percent of TV viewers with ads, yet directs little or no advertising toward the lightest 20 percent. This isn’t the fault of TV—it’s still the broadest reach media vehicle we have, and virtually all households still watch TV. It’s just that current media planning tools leave something to be desired: more reach.

Light Viewers – Where are They?

So what’s the issue? Well, light viewers tend to be younger, more affluent, better educated and working outside the home—just the type of people who don’t have the time to watch much TV. So they watch more cable, watch programming at different hours, use DVRs, stream content online, etc.

They’re just harder to reach on traditional TV—and current media planning tools don’t do a very good job of constructing plans to reach these people. That’s why TV media plans often end up with approximately 80 percent reach—no matter how much they spend.

Multi-Platform – a Potential Solution?

Focusing on reaching these light viewers online allows you to extend your overall campaign reach against your intended audience. When done strategically, campaigns have achieved nearly 90 percent reach, as measured by Nielsen Campaign Ratings. Without proper insight, however, you may experience high levels of overlap in reach between TV and online, as many heavy TV viewers are also heavy online consumers, leaving you back at square one.

Nielsen Online Audience Segments—TV Viewing provides the insight you need to augment your TV media plan with online ads that reach audiences based on their TV viewing habits, so you can focus on reaching those hard-to-find light TV viewers online.

So instead of a traditional TV plan, which maxes out reach at 80 percent and bombards top quintile viewers with ads, this approach has a broader effect: it extends reach by serving ads to consumers who wouldn’t have otherwise been reached through traditional TV. By more strategically placing ads, it can also cap frequency among the online viewers and reduce frequency among the heaviest TV viewers.

Key Takeaways – Things to Remember

  • Maximizing reach at 1+ frequency is the gold standard
  • Traditional TV media plans typically don’t achieve more than 80 percent reach
  • Heavy viewers are overloaded with ads, while light viewers are exposed to few or none at all
  • Extending a campaign across platforms can increase reach and reduce frequency

To me, this looks like a good recipe for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your media plans. Further, it might even benefit your brand by not upsetting heavy viewers in your intended audience who are currently overexposed and probably sick of seeing your ads and brand.

I like more reach per campaign—and at lower cost per thousand (CPM)—especially because I don’t like to be bombarded with the same ad over and over. And I’d be willing to bet that your intended audience would agree with me.

Get free updates of Randall Beard’s Blog by RSS reader

Get free updates of Randall Beard’s Blog by e-mail