‘Reach out, reach out for me…’ and as The Four Tops advised, ‘I’ll be there’. This is true of mass market advertising. But the question is, will the consumers you reach respond? How does reach as a media metric relate to business results?
Reach is the percentage of the target audience to have at least one opportunity to see a given campaign. This and other media metrics such as impressions, frequency and gross rating points (GRPs), have traditionally been the focus of a large proportion of the ad industry.
There is, of course, the need for exposure and scale in order to tell consumers about an advertiser’s products or services, and TV has the greatest reach of all media. Commercial TV reaches 90% of the UK population in a week and 97% in a month.
The true reach of a given TV campaign is flawed to varying degrees. UK TV measurement body, BARB, under-reports ratings quite heavily for smaller stations, due to the limited sample size of their audience panel: currently, 5,100 homes represent the 60 million individuals living within television households. If incorporating much lower impacting under-reported spots within your campaign, the reach figure will be higher than reported. So, advertisers or agencies concerned primarily with such media metrics will only ever be looking at part of the picture, potentially planning and optimising ongoing activity in a one-dimensional, and possibly misleading way.
Aside from being misreported, reach does not necessarily mean there is engagement or return on investment. Any scale should be underpinned with a focus on activity that has been proven to drive response and revenue, which in turn will lead to business growth in the short or long-term.
There are many tools in the market to measure the effects of TV advertising, one of which in the short-term being our own in-house ARMalytics® system, which attributes immediate web traffic and sales within the first minutes following TV spots airing. This enables us to measure and continually optimise TV. This too is only one part of the picture, so to understand the longer-term effect of campaigns we also look at more macro level figures and undertake econometric analysis to measure the effect TV has on total sales, increase in the share of the market, the share of voice and the relationship between offline and online channels. Understanding immediate engagement is a good proxy for longer-term engagement and thus can also help plan more awareness objectives.
As an example, buying the same rating spot against a demographic on ITV and C4. To those focused on media metrics and industry measurement tools, since they’re deemed to reach the same amount of audience, they’re the same. Yet if the ITV spot drives twice as many immediate or short-term responses, it could be argued that the ITV audience is more generally suited to that advertiser’s message and thus optimising towards ITV in future may reap greater benefits to the business in the short, medium or long-term.
Reach in isolation should not be a measure of the success of marketing campaigns, rather it is only part of the process for business outcomes to be achieved. Ultimately sales, profits, market share and penetration for the business are the end goals which any media activity is aiming to drive.
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