Reach and the Law of Diminishing Returns

If you've planned media on an integrated basis, you know the basics behind reach curves. The more you spend incrementally, the less reach you achieve. Spend to the point where you're reaching anywhere north of 90 percent of your target demo, and it becomes both difficult and expensive to spend money in vehicles you're already using to get incremental reach.

Many marketers set a communication goal to maximize their reach at a given frequency. This frequency is usually the effective frequency, which I've discussed several times in this column. It represents the number of times the average consumer needs to be exposed to the message in order for it to sink in and prompt consideration. If you need to hit your audience at least four times with the message to get it to sink in, you would need to examine your reach at the 4+ level and you might run a number of different scenarios through a predictive modeling tool to see which prototypical plan might generate the best effective reach.



A certain percentage reach at the effective frequency (also called effective reach) is such a common goal that sometimes it becomes the only goal. Agencies often recommend plans that might maximize effective reach with a given set of vehicles, but they tend to ignore two important factors:

  1. The average frequency of the plan - The average prospect can get slammed with the message dozens of times. Doesn't this seem inefficient to you?
  2. Other ways to generate incremental effective reach that might be more efficient than purchasing additional weight in existing vehicles.

In general, it's more efficient to add additional vehicles than to add weight in existing vehicles if your goal is to maximize effective reach. This makes perfect logical sense - Reach cumes against people who consume the vehicles on your plan, and once you reach a certain percentage of them, capturing light users at the effective frequency becomes tough to do. They're simply not using the given media enough to encounter the message the specified number of times.

Add another vehicle or two, however, and incremental reach is achieved much more efficiently. In light of this, seeing how many consumer marketers are splurging on TV while they're spending lightly (or not at all) in other vehicles is tough to watch, almost like watching an impending train wreck.

Maximizing effective reach efficiently is not only a justification for buying online media, but also for diversifying media vehicles in general. What we need to do as planners is engage in more scenario planning and train ourselves to realize when we're spending a great amount to achieve the incrementally little.

Having trouble generating incremental effective reach at a reasonable cost? Try looking into media vehicles that aren't part of your current plan. You may be able to get more for less.

Next story loading loading..