Thursday, June 28, 2007

What's Your Frequency, Kenneth?

According to eMarketer and the Atlas Institute, two-thirds of consumers bought a product (or took another responsive action) were reached by ads across multiple portal sites before converting:
The study, conducted in the first quarter of 2007, found that US consumers were more likely to convert after viewing ads on multiple Web sites, suggesting that conversions should be attributed to a full set of impressions and/or clicks, rather than just the single one that preceded the conversion.
Nine in 10 consumers who converted were reached by placements other than the last ad seen. Also, 86.1% of ads which led to a responsive action were seen on multiple placements.

This reminded me of one of the early 'facts' of the Internet. It was said, back in the day, that a person needed to visit your site six times in order to make a purchase. (This is where the repeat visitor stat came in ~ it was vital information!) Part of the reasoning for the behavior was said to be the need to be familiar and comfortable enough with the website. Would the website be there tomorrow? After 'finding themselves there' six times, they felt more assured of the site/company's stability. Also after 'finding themselves there' six times, the consumer knows they really do want what they are offering.

Seeing ads six or more times, across six or more sites, etc would be similar. Point at it once; I'm not so sure about it (the product) or you (the company). Point at it several times; and I might be interested... And while a person who sees your ad on one site while reading an article may not have the money to buy or the time to even click right then and there, another ad at another place is a reminder later.

I didn't read/buy the whole study report and so have no idea if they have a suggested magical number, let alone if it was six, but the number part is irrelevant, really. It's not six, or 3.4, or whatever number you've heard. If you don't believe me, believe Dr. Roger Wimmer. And this isn't really earth-shattering news to most of us. We know that ad frequency and repetition is important, even if the number isn't universal. Yes, Virginia (and Kenneth), frequency is important, even on the Internet:
Results from the analyses suggest that frequency can be a powerful determinant of advertising effectiveness. Specifically, it is found that the frequency effects were significant on ad recall, attitude toward brand, and trial intention.
From Penn State's Media Effects Research Laboratory (2002).

What is most usable from all of this is to note that frequency is important. Ads seen more often and across more sites translates to more memorable ads. So while your click-through and conversion rates may not seem very great, you should consider the whole campaign's effectiveness in light of it's frequency. And you need to plan with frequency in mind. Even with a small or non-existent ad budget it is possible to increase frequency.

This includes all media, such as radio, print etc. While one doesn't expect a person to pull over to the side of the road and flip-open their cell to 'order now' just from hearing an ad spot on the radio, these ads do increase recall so it's entirely possible that when they return home they'll just type in your URL or Google your company or product name. Or click & buy from the very next ad for your product they see ~ just because you've now hit their own personal magic number.

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