Chris Sloane, Senior Partner at Gain Theory heads up contributing authors in the Admap March issue which focuses around the topic of Frequency: How much is too much?

In his article, Chris Sloane looks at the history of frequency theory and what this can teach us in today’s media environment.

Below is an extract from the full article which can be found here.


In an age of multi-channel media planning, shorter consumer attention spans and ad avoidance, marketers and their agencies need to think hard about the issue of frequency when designing media strategies. Too little and the campaign risks having no impact, too much and advertisers are likely to be wasting money. And while it is true that even a perfect advertising schedule is not going to make an ineffective ad effective, it is also true that good scheduling can improve the payback of a campaign.

There has been widespread debate since the 1970s about whether a low-frequency, high-reach strategy is better than a high-frequency lower-reach one. This debate has intensified in recent years with the balance tipping towards the former approach.

In this article, we look at:

  • The history of frequency theory
  • What history can teach us today

Need to know

There are several points that media planners should be aware of when designing a schedule to invest their clients’ money, understanding these will improve and help to justify their planning:

  1. Can they make an estimation of the relative benefit of subsequent exposures? Various factors have the potential to make subsequent exposures in a given time-period more desirable, such as advertising NPD vs. established brands or levels of competitor pressure.
  2. Is it a seasonal campaign? For example, a retailer advertising at Christmas or Easter – multiple frequency in a short period of time is likely to be beneficial here.
  3. What is the degree of ad avoidance by media channel? The higher this is, the more frequency is to be valued. The level of ad avoidance by media channel should have an influence on how each channel is planned – maybe tight frequency capping for online isn’t always so desirable after all?
  4. What levels of advertising and brand recall can be expected for the message that is to be delivered? The lower these are, the more role frequency has to play.
  5. It is incumbent upon media planners not to have a one size fits all approach to their clients’ planning requirements. It is imperative to understand the nuance of the campaign, the brand and the category. Media planning in today’s world should be an exciting challenge, the evolving role of frequency makes it more so.

To read the full article click here.


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