Have Reach and Frequency Become Irrelevant?

Have Reach and Frequency Become Irrelevant?

Why It’s Time to Stop Selling Reach and Focus on Location

NEW YORK, NY — Consumers today have far too many content choices available to continue supporting reach and frequency as the primary metrics to buy media, according to Martin Cass, CEO of Assembly and MDC Partners. Reach is now a commodity, and selling media based on the presence of a target audience is not enough. He suggests that sales professionals forget about reach and instead focus on creating compelling ideas that support brand objectives.

“Reach and frequency are yesterday’s game,” says Cass. “To stand out today [DPB Networks] need to think differently, and that means you’ve got to understand what a brand does and how you fit into the equation.”

Mr. Cass was interviewed by Joe Mandese, Editor-in-Chief of MediaPost at the Digital Place Based Advertising Association’s (DPAA) 2014 Video Everywhere Summit, held in New York on November 4. The DPAA’s annual summit brings together advertising agency media professionals, brands, and digital place-based network stakeholders.

Mr. Cass’s remarks come at an interesting time for DPB media sellers. It’s as if the goal posts are once again shifting further out just as the medium is gaining traction. In fact, digital place-based advertising networks reach more than 48% of the US adult population each month, according to GfK MRI. And according to the DPAA, DPB advertising networks deliver more ad impressions to 18- to 49-year-olds on a monthly basis compared to the top 25 network primetime shows and the top 20 basic cable networks.

One might think that media planners would be lining up to get on board the DPB media train, but reach is no longer enough in a connected world full of media choices with comparable reach metrics. For example, YouTube reaches more adults between the ages of 18 and 34 in the United States than any cable network.

Reach is not the only consideration for media planners; consumer behavior varies greatly based on the target audience and platform. According to Pew Research, Millennials look at their smartphones as often as 150 times per day texting, emailing, playing video games, and interacting on social media sites. In contrast, a Baby Boomer might look at her mobile device less often, but spends more time each time she picks it up.

So how do we place a value against behavior in a space where the consumption of content is so different? It gets back to Mr. Cass’s original argument—reach and frequency are no longer enough to capture the attention of media planners. The best campaigns start with an idea and build a plan around it.

Are Good Ideas Really Enough?

Agencies are still rooted in the ideas business, but according to Cass, the world has gotten way too complicated for agencies to deal with the sheer volume of media channels that exist today. Facebook, Tumblr, Vine, and Instagram have morphed into media streams, enabling consumers to snack on content alongside cable and traditional broadcast media. In addition, it’s become extraordinarily difficult for brands and their agencies to create content that resonates with consumers. Campaign concepts wear out quicker than ever before, and it’s expensive for brands to keep up with the rapid rate of churn. In essence, ideas have also become a commodity.

“If you produce really brilliant creative work, it’s dead within two weeks,” says Cass. “The thought that we can place advertising that wears out so quickly and hope that’s going to support our business over time—first, it’s just getting too expensive, and second, people are ignoring you.”

The flip side of marketing churn also provides opportunities for fast-growing platforms, such as digital place-based media. DPB media’s high dwell time and interactivity through location-based mobile platforms opens the door to sell against other media channels. One of the most important selling points for digital place-based advertising networks comes down to the environment: the stronger the location is, the more likely a specific ad impression has value to an advertiser. Location, combined with a great idea, will grab the attention of media planners every time.

Photo courtesy: DPAA

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