What Is Advertising Frequency?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Advertising frequency refers to the number of times a member of the public encounters an advertisement, whether it's in print, television, radio, online, or other media. Advertisers usually want to increase frequency to make sure a target audience sees their ads, and a number of formulas are used to determine the optimal level of exposures. Research on advertising and the way consumers interact with it plays a role in decisions about ad campaign design to make campaigns as effective as possible, with minimal waste.

Advertising frequency is important with radio spots, as people don't always stay on one radio station long enough to hear advertisements.
Advertising frequency is important with radio spots, as people don't always stay on one radio station long enough to hear advertisements.

Consumers who only encounter an ad once may not clearly remember it, and cannot build strong associations, good or bad, with a specific brand. Increasing frequency means that a product stays in the consumer's mind and will be more likely to come up when the consumer has a need for the product. A car company wants people to think of its brand when they need new cars, for instance, and also wants people to have positive associations with the brand, also achieved through increased advertising frequency.

In ad placements, part of the contract includes a discussion on advertising frequency. Advertisers typically pay for multiple ad placements, such as a print ad in a newspaper that will run every day for one week. Higher frequency campaigns are more expensive overall, but advertisers may qualify for a bulk discount when they run multiple ads. In all settings, the media outlet should have demographic statistics available to tell advertisers how many people will see the ad, and what kinds of people are likely to be exposed.

The price of ad slots can depend on a number of factors, including the size and timing of the ad. Advertising frequency needs can create fierce competition for prime time slots, where there are a limited number of spaces available, and multiple advertisers may vie for the same slot. This can be a particularly acute issue on television, where advertising slots during major events can be extremely expensive and may not come with bulk discounting and other benefits.

Advertising frequency is only one facet of a successful ad campaign. Another issue is reach. Marketers need to clearly define a target demographic and make sure advertising is aimed at them. It should be in media they are likely to interact with, at locations and times when they will see it. For example, working professionals are unlikely to watch television at one in the afternoon, so targeted advertisements aimed at them shouldn't air at that time.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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