Media decision analyzing various types of media, Reach, Frequency and impact


Reach is the total number of households or (with modern, online advertisements) the number of individual consumers exposed to a specific medium or entertainment platform over a standard time. Reach is the depth or penetration of your targeted consumer (B2C) or customer purchaser or decision-maker (B2B) base, quantified in numbers and/or percentages via a media vehicle and over a set campaign period. Effective reach delivers the maximum number of targeted individuals for exposure to the brand message. Efficient reach does so economically, often expressed in a cost per thousand (CPM), CPL (cost per lead) and CPS (cost per sale).

  • Niche or category of media watched
  • The audience member’s demographic and psychographic traits, interests and affinities, shopping habits, etc
  • Seasonality or timing
  • Type of engagement with previous ads in your campaign

Magazine readers do not see, and read every ad. It means that the measurement of the total audience to which media reach is not an accurate measure of reaching the prospect. It just indicates an opportunity to communicate.

Cost Per Thousand (CPM) is the cost of reaching 1,000 households, or men or women or left-handed batsmen. CPM is a comparative measure to judge the efficiency of the media.

Reach is the number of different units who have the opportunity of being exposed to an ad message at least once. It is also expressed as net audience or unduplicated audience.

A media plan that reaches to eight out of 10 homes has a reach of 80. Frequency is the number of times the message is heard or seen in a defined period of time. It is generally expressed as an average. Reach and frequency are measured together over the same time period, usually four weeks.

Frequency distribution is related to the exact number of times the individuals are exposed to an ad message in a schedule.

A frequency of 12 may be necessary to reach heavy viewers, while just 1 or 2 exposures may enable us to reach light viewers.

Impressions indicate the total number of messages delivered by a media plan, whatever be the media used. Mathemati­cally, it means the number of people who see at least one message multiplied by the number of times they see it.

The number of people, households, or businesses in a target audience exposed to media vehicle or message schedule at least once during a given time period is called as ‘Reach’ of media. A time period is normally four weeks. Thus, Reach is the number of people that are given the message.

In other words, how many targeted buyers did the ad reach within a specific time period. It is often expressed as a percentage. If an advertisement placed on the hit network television program like Big boss is watched at least once by 10% of the advertiser’s target audience, then the reach is said to be 10%. Effective Reach concept is based on the assumption that one exposure to an ad may not be enough to convey the desired message.

Represents the percentage of a vehicle’s audience reached at each effective frequency increment. Fewer than 3 exposures are considered insufficient reach, while more than 10 is considered overexposure and thus ineffective reach. This exposure level is no guarantee of effective communication; different messages may require more of fewer exposures.


Frequency is the average, approximate, or exact number of times a specific household or individual has been exposed to the same advertisement. Marketing platforms can measure the average frequency by dividing the number of impressions by the number of unique viewers or listeners. More-in-depth platforms can track the exact frequency for individual consumers. Frequency is the number of exposures to the brand message obtained for the target via a media vehicle(s) over a set campaign period. Reach delivers the audience while frequency repeatedly exposes the audience to the brand message, offer, promotion, etc. How many exposures is enough (or too much) is often the question, since there is obvious budgetary waste for buying too many ads with diminishing effectiveness.

Media frequency refers to average number of times, the audience is exposed to media vehicle in a specified period of time. Higher media-frequency is preferred. Greater the frequency, more are the chances of advertisement message making deep impression on the minds of consumers. In case of print media, frequency of newspaper is very less as the receiver is not exposed to the same newspaper for a long period of time.

On the next day he will be getting the new newspaper and old newspaper will be discarded the same day. In case of magazine, media-frequency is more as same magazine may be opened by audience many a time, as he will get the next issue of magazine after a month, a fortnight or after a week. Higher frequency will create better impressions on target audience. So, media with higher frequency should be selected.

While introducing a new product more frequency. When the ad size is small, we need more frequency. When the message is complex, we need more fre­quency. Higher frequency helps us stand out in the clutter.

We have to decide the effective frequency-it is not frequency which is needed to communicate effectively with the target audience. It is a difficult thing to settle. There can be a minimum frequency and maximum frequency to be effective.

Lesser frequency makes the communication ineffective. Higher frequency may be a waste of ad resources. There can be also ad fatigue if there are too many repetitions.

While we talk of effective frequency to set the least number of exposures needed, we also consider effective reach to indicate the percentage of the target audience exposed to the ad, some minimum number of times or more. This adds the dimension of repetition to the concept of reach and frequency.

Greater reach and frequency stretches the media budget. It is necessary to optimise both reach and frequency. Balancing is difficult especially when two or more ads are being employed or two or more media are being used. We have, therefore, to consider the message weight of the entire media plan.


Impact is the measure of how quickly and completely members of the audience receive the message. This is affected by the consumer’s individual need or interest in the message, the message itself, and even the medium that delivers the ad.

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