Why Frequency is Required in Radio & TV Advertising & How Much Needed to have Successful Campaigns


Why Frequency is Required in Radio & TV Advertising & How Much Needed to have Successful Campaigns

Finding the right frequency is one of the most critical elements to a successful advertising campaign, especially for direct response products and test campaigns. The reason you run a test in a market is to determine if you should run a long term campaign in that market, right? If you run the test incorrectly to begin with, then you are going to get bad data. If you make long-term buying decisions based on bad data, then you are wasting your money.

Our rule of thumb when it comes to frequency is 5. An average buyer in any marketplace must hear your commercial a bare minimum of 5 times before they will even consider taking action based on your message. You notice that I used the word minimum. They should really hear your commercial 15-20 times for the maximum response and profitability.

I can already see the Direct Response radio advertising guys out there rolling their eyes. You guys think frequency does not apply to you. Your direct response radio commercials are different because you utilize a powerful “call to action” statement. You list your phone number 4 times in the spot and say, “CALL NOW”, “THIS OFFER IS ONLY GOOD TODAY”. Let me fill you guys in on a little secret: that used car salesman junk quit working about 10 years ago. People do not call because you told them to. I ask clients about this all the time, “Have you ever called and ordered something off an advertisement because someone told you to?” Not one single client has ever told me yes. I have, however, had a client tell me that, “You can’t compare me to the consumers we are selling to; they are in a lower demographic segment than me.” Based on focus group information I have seen, even people in lower demographic segments are not going to call today just because you told them to.

The only reason people will call to purchase your product/service is because they have a need for the product and they find your company credible. The biggest, most overwhelming reason is credibility. The more times a consumer hears your advertisement, the more credible your company becomes in their mind, and the more apt they are to do business with you, instead of one of your competitors.


Here is an example of what a proper frequency of spots would be in a radio test campaign:
• 2-3 Stations in a market (more or less, depending on the size of the market)
• 2 Months on each station
• 4 weeks per month
• 5 Days per week (Monday-Friday)
• 1 commercial airing every 2-4 hours

The most important part of the equation is the amount of spots per day vs. the amount of hours in the rotator. The correct ratio gives you about 30-50% coverage. You want to hit 30-50% of the available hours in your rotator each day for a 3-month period. If your rotator is shorter or longer than this, then adjust the amount of spots per day accordingly. I have seen campaigns tested at 5% coverage all the way up to 80% coverage; 40% coverage is the sweet spot.

Obviously, I have just scratched the surface of frequency today, but it should allow you to determine if your existing campaigns are in the ballpark or not.

One of the next important keys to creating an effective advertising campaign is building synergy in the markets you are testing, and that is where we will start off our Insider Tips next time.

As always, feel free to call our office with any questions you may have about TV or radio advertising. Even if you are not spending money with us, we are happy to help.

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