The Other “R”
George PappachenNovember 4, 2014
Reach has a great deal of value in regards to tracking communications effectiveness. Reach implies how many people saw, heard or sensed the message that was communicated through a particular media channel.
And if the message is distributed across multiple media channels, unduplicated reach is important to appreciate the unique audience for the communication. Digital media can be especially effective at teasing out duplicates to enable a precise accounting of unduplicated reach. Of course, sometimes the objective is to reach people multiple times with the same message. Especially these days, given the clutter of information that is pushed to us - and in some cases, pulled in by us - it may take multiple tries before something gets noticed. People in the business call the multiple hits “frequency.” That is, the recurrence of a message being “seen” by an individual.
Reach and frequency are foundational metrics for audience measurement. Incident to money changing hands, media buyers and sellers would agree to how many people are reached when the media buyer places a message to be broadcast via the channel or platform the media seller controls. And also how many times the message will be seen by the audience. Given the digital times we live in, recency is the other metric to be closely tracked to gauge communications effectiveness.
The path from point of communication to activation (in some form) by the message recipient is getting shorter by the day. Consumers are becoming more accustomed to clicking through to view, test, buy, or otherwise experience the content they encounter through media. To buttress this point: best practice informs that a static image on a website or email is a wasted opportunity or worse, a frustrating experience for consumers. An interactive experience is expected, especially in regard to marketing communications.
Consumers are peppered with more communications now than ever before. While cross-device and cross-channel capabilities enable marketers to coordinate for optimization (so that for example, awareness of a product is introduced by television and the deal is sealed with an ad while the consumer is near a retail store), it’s challenging to time things that way.
That’s why the importance of recency is on the rise. Coordinated communications that are linked closer in time to each other have a better chance to cut through the clutter of messages that fight for people’s attention. For marketers, recency is also important in the context of countering a competitor’s message. They will need to react in time to the other side’s campaign to at least be in the consideration set before a decision is made.
Cross-media intelligence is required to operate against this kind of plan. But the pieces are in place today for real time alerts and responses that factor advertising activities across multiple media channels. Advertising operations that are set up to optimize for the impact of recency will be a step ahead in the battle for people’s attention.