Reach and frequency are the peanut butter and chocolate of the marketing world. Each works separately on their own, but with the right amount of both, magic happens.  

To ensure the best return on investment (ROI) for your advertising campaign, it’s important that these two elements - reach and frequency - are a central part of your media planning process.  

What is Reach in Media Planning? 

First, a definition: When we’re talking about “reach,” what are we talking about? When talking about planning your media, the reach is the estimated percentage of targets who are exposed to your content during a specific period. 

Keep in mind that reach isn’t simply a percentage of total customers. Instead, it’s a percentage of a specified audience. During your planning phase, you will begin to flesh out who your target audience is. Your reach is going to be how many of them your content is landing in front of.  

For example, you may want to reach first-time homeowners in a specific area. Your reach will be a percentage of the total number of first-time homeowners in that targeted area.  

Reach is an essential part of your media planning process because it can: 

  1. Help minimize risks 

Knowing an estimate of how many customers you can reach can help you make better decisions when it comes to spending your money. You will be able to invest in campaigns that get you the best ROI. 

  1. Help fine-tune your messaging 

When you know exactly who you are reaching and who you hope to attract, you can make sure the language and tone of your message is tailored to them directly. 

What is Frequency in Media Planning? 

Reach and frequency often go hand in hand when it comes to media planning. While reach is how many people your ad may get in front of, frequency is the average number of times that ad will be put in front of someone during the entire course of your campaign. 

There are three popular strategies that marketers use when it comes to frequency of their advertising:


This strategy means that an ad will run on a consistent schedule for the entire course of the campaign. This strategy is best used for those products or services that are not seasonal and need regular exposure to keep them at the forefront of your target audience’s mind.  


Flighting is the term for creating alternating periods of advertisements followed by pauses in advertising. This strategy is especially beneficial to those with a not-so-large ad budget. It allows you to not waste your precious advertising dollars during times that are not likely to give you a good ROI. 


Pulsing combines the benefits of both continuity and flighting into one strategy. Pulsing refers to a low level of continuous advertising year-round and then ramping up that advertising during peak selling periods. If your product or service is good year-round but sees a peak at different times, this would be a good strategy for you. 

Reach and Frequency: What Should be the Priority?  

The ultimate goal of any media plan is to find the “just right” blend of reach and frequency. After all, these two metrics have to work together to grow your business effectively. It isn’t just about how many people your ad gets in front of, but how many times those people see that ad.  

However, if you’re in a situation where you need to prioritize one over the other, your priority should always be frequency.  

There’s a simple explanation as to why: What grows businesses is more sales, right? And what boosts sales time and again is the relationship that forms between a brand and its customers. Customers or potential customers don’t form relationships with brands they see once and then disappear. It’s the brand they see over and over again in a variety of places that makes them engaged.  

Therefore, if you need to prioritize reach and frequency, choose to get your ad in front of a targeted audience several times over getting your ad in front of the widest audience possible just once. 

Determining Goals for Your Media Planning  

The best media plans are the ones that do the most with the least. They don't waste time or money on media channels that won't help your goals, and they make sure every dollar is spent in a way that will get you what you want. 

Goals are an integral part of your media planning. When setting goals make sure they’re SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. 

Reach and frequency are going to be the metrics you use for the “measurable” part of your SMART goal. These are essential numbers you need to ensure your advertising is effective and working for you instead of wasting your money. 

If you think you’re ready to take your brand to the next level, MBI is here to help you. We specialize in helping you strategize the perfect marketing campaign to help you reach the goals you’ve created for your brand. Contact one of our experts today to discuss how we can help you.