What’s the right Frequency and Reach approach in your marketing campaign?


One of the most common questions I received from clients, partners, associates, and business colleagues is the frequency and reach question. How many impressions a consumer should see or rather frequency (the number of times a target audience sees a product/brand ad)? How far and wide should my message goes out to or how wide must we cast our messaging net?

This article attempts to bring forward what is largely believed to be the latest observation and research in this area. The first disclaimer here is that we will gladly raise our hands to say there are no right answers. It depends on the brand/product objectives.

According to Neff (2018), the campaign objectives are essentially important. If the objective is brand awareness, maximum reach should be prioritized in the campaign. When it comes to Sales activation, frequency is suggested to address this.

In the article how the frequency of exposure can maximize the resonance of your digital campaigns, the author suggested that the ideal optimum frequency is dependent on the sales funnel journey of the consumer. (Okadar, 2017) . This research conducted by Nielsen illustrated that ad awareness and purchase intent increases with a number of exposures.

The optimum number suggested was somewhere between 5-9 exposures which generally will help in the brand recall. These exposures are defined as total exposures from all touchpoints in your media mix strategy. For example, If a customer sees your ad on Facebook, views your brand in Digital Out of Home, listens to it on a drive home and reads on it on a magazine, it’s largely computed as 4 touchpoints exposure. This is highly effective for both passive and active consumers. On the other observation, if a consumer is already in consideration mode, Neff (2018) suggests up to 3 exposure is sufficient to trigger a call to action to drive intent/purchase. Anything beyond this will create buyer fatigue or an opt-out shut off for the brand.

According to Lisa Barnes, a marketing science partner at Facebook, she provided a formula to work with in terms of serving the appropriate number of ads to a similar consumer on a weekly basis. She recommended 2 ads per week and up to 9 ads per month across 10 weeks
to achieve a strong level of brand recall.

Marketing professor Jennifer Burton from the University of Tampa conducted research with fellow colleagues from Mississippi University for women, Delta modeling group and BDJ solutions published results that may help us understand deeper. According to this interesting piece of research, they discovered that audiences would develop an initial emotional connection after seeing ads across one to two times. A deeper emotional connection is established if the audience views it for 10 times. They have measured significant purchase intent once a consumer breaches 10 views and above. This is in line with the observation from Nielsen study.

Let’s not jump for joy yet with this simplified view of observation. Nielsen’s research also offers a glimpse that this intent of purchase defers significantly too in terms of product category the brand represents. If a brand/product is from fast-moving consumer goods, shopping/retail or electronics sector, the higher the frequency a consumer see the brand, the higher the resonance rate. However, if the brand is from a financial sector, no amount of frequency is able to instigate a changed consumer mindset if they have established brand loyalty. In order to mitigate this, Nielsen research pointed towards the content strategy narratives to drive conversion.

In summary, the numbers of 2,3 and 10 are a good statistical starting point in discussing reach and frequency. Unfortunately, there is still no one size fits all approach. Though research has been able to provide stronger co-relationship, further iteration is required as there are other numerous variables that impact consumer awareness, consideration, and purchase/intent journey. Having these numbers is important as baseline discussions for reach and frequency. Competing for eyeballs and finding ways to cut through the clutter is still very much ongoing debate. Let’s not get too caught up by the precision rather be wrapped up by its direction.


Neff, J. (2018, Nov 11). What's the frequency? Advertiser deal with conflicting data. Retrieved from www.adage.com: https://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/frequency-advertisers-deal-conflicting-data/315496

Okadar, G. (2017, Jul 30). How frequency of exposure can maximise the resonance of your digital campaigns. Retrieved from www.nielsen.com/au:
https://www.nielsen.com/au/en/insights/article/2017/how-frequency-of-exposure-can-maximisethe-[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row equal_height=”yes” content_placement=”middle”][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_hidden-xs”][vc_single_image image=”1715″ style=”vc_box_outline_circle”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_hidden-xs”][vc_column_text]

Doh Hau Goh
Goh Doh Hau is in the leadership team of Garganto, a boutique style digital marketing agency and ecommerce builder. He enjoys marrying evidence-based research with observation insights to curate gems of practical information. He is a MBA graduate from Sydney Business School (University of Wollongong)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row equal_height=”yes” content_placement=”middle”][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_hidden-lg vc_hidden-md vc_hidden-sm”][vc_single_image image=”1715″ alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_outline_circle”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”5/6″ offset=”vc_hidden-lg vc_hidden-md vc_hidden-sm”][vc_column_text]

Doh Hau Goh
Goh Doh Hau is in the leadership team of Garganto, a boutique style digital marketing agency and ecommerce builder. He enjoys marrying evidence-based research with observation insights to curate gems of practical information. He is a MBA graduate from Sydney Business School (University of Wollongong)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]