Caps Off to Frequency! – Part Two

In my previous post, we examined the origins of frequency caps and explored why the time-honoured industry “rule” of a three frequency is the most mis-understood, mis-used and mis-applied guideline, and one that completely misses the mark. This week, we will share some of what Media Experts has incorporated into our media practice, through experimentation and experience, to ensure we extract the greatest possible value for our customers.

Attempts by media planners to regulate frequency have the unfortunate consequence of taking the focus of the campaign off of the marketer’s objectives, like transactions or awareness, and stifling the campaign. The focus needs to be about reaching a qualified audience with a relevant message at the right time. There is no shortage of research, beginning with General Electric Psychologist Howard Krugman’s study, regarded as the origin of the flawed “rule of three”, that discuss the importance of the relevance of the message to the consumer in the psychological “decision” level of exposure and this is where digital media excels.

Media Experts has managed countless display campaigns and track them as thoroughly as possible. We recognize that the higher the average frequency, the more likely that display campaign will impact campaign results whether the goal is awareness or direct response. Average frequencies in the high twenties or low thirties usually wins the day and that doesn’t include exposures to other media in market.

By layering audience behaviour and interest data over an online display buy rather than a frequency cap, advertisers can ensure that their ad is delivered to a relevant audience, interested in an advertiser’s product, service or brand. By increasing the frequency of the online display campaign, advertisers will ensure the right audience is exposed to the message in a timely manner. By buying bid-based, performance inventory, advertisers can increase the frequency and not the media cost. The high frequency, high volume buy, combined with verification software, can ensure that enough of the display inventory will fall into the visible area to be effective. By tracking post-click and other client results, we can ensure our efforts are working.

As for concerns about creative “burn-out” that may come with high frequency, our results suggest this isn’t an issue. As well, relatively low production and ad serving costs allow for multiple creative messages to be in market at once and changed on the fly. By delivering a more relevant message to the right audience will also decrease the chances of burn-out. Testing provides further insight into the ad message points that resonant with audiences. These tests can measure whether or not certain brand messages resonate with audiences, for example “free shipping” vs. “25% off”.

The original goal of the frequency of three “rule” was to allow media buyers to spend their client’s money more effectively and reduce any wasted exposures. Advertisers would be better served establishing their own rules and benchmarks. This can be achieved by establishing a more “Tradigital™” approach to data analysis. By knitting together all advertiser results (store traffic, awareness survey results, sales, web traffic, branded searches, Facebook likes) with all media activity in market, advertisers can develop insights and customized rules over time.

These guidelines can help develop forecasting models that can roughly predict the outcome of campaign by the media mix, and that approach is something that happens way too infrequently in our business.