Reach and frequency planning helps brands identify the optimal advertising mix for their target audience. Media planners must carefully monitor reach and frequency levels to ensure that a campaign receives sufficient exposure without becoming an irritant.


Reach is used to express the total percentage of a target audience who are exposed to a commercial at least once throughout a campaign period. Frequency describes the average number of times that a person within this target audience has had the opportunity to see the advert.

Key insights

1. Frequency management is complex with no one-size-fits-all answer

Managing frequency is important to ensure campaign impact while avoiding wasting money and annoying consumers with too many repetitive ads. With the proliferation of screens, channels and platforms and declining mass audiences, it is now harder to reach people. Add to this consumers’ ad avoidance and multi-tasking behaviours and achieving effective reach can take more than one exposure – in turn requiring increased frequency. There is evidence that frequency can and should exceed the historical rule of thumb of 3 to 10 exposures, but equally there is evidence that excessive numbers of exposures (40 per month) negatively impact sales. Focussing on the most efficient way to maximise reach, shifting tactics during a campaign or across the customer journey and using frequency capping may help avoid over exposure.