When advertising on Portland radio, frequency refers to the number of times, on average, a listener hears a specific commercial during a campaign. So, then, how much frequency does a Maine small business owner need to ensure her campaign will be successful?
Some business owners may think the magic number is 3. But that number comes from findings which have been self-debunked by the researcher who first made the claim in the mid 20th century. But the bunk won't die.
A recent study conducted by Nielsen has given some interesting new insight into the effective frequency question. But first, a little about the mythological rule of 3.
A Myth Is As Good A Mile
This inconceivable notion of the "rule of three" is rooted in research conducted in 1890 by Herman Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist. Ebbinghuas studied how many rehearsals were necessary for his test subjects to memorize a list of nonsense syllables. Flash forward to the mid-1960s. Working from Ebbinghaus's findings, Dr. Herman Krugaman, a public opinion researcher at General Electric developed a model of effective advertising. Krugman discussed his model in an article published in Public Opinion Quarterly titled, "The Impact of Television Advertising: Learning Without Involvement."
In his article, Krugman explained that for a commercial to be effective it must attain three. and only three, levels of psychological exposure among the target audience. Krugman describes these three levels as "Curiosity, Recognition, and Decision." Quickly, however, Krugman's model was transmogrified by misguided marketers from three psychological exposures to three media exposures.
Krugman himself was dismissive of the three exposure rule propagated by media practitioners. He said, "Let me try to explain the special qualities of one, two, and three exposures. I stop at three because as you shall see there is no such thing as a fourth exposure psychologically; rather fours, fives, etc., are repeats of the third exposure effect. He went on to say, "There is a myth in the advertising world that viewers will forget your message if you don't repeat your advertising often enough. It is this myth that supports many large advertising expenditures...I would rather say the public comes closer to forgetting nothing they have seen [or heard]. They just put it out of their minds until and unless it has some use . . . and [then] the response to the commercial continues."
The More Frequency The Better
So, the question remains, how many times must a radio commercial be heard before it is effective. Erwin Ephron, often considered to be the father of modern media planning, told Inside Media magazine, "Today serious students of advertising understand there is no formula answer to the effective frequency question. They believe most exposures are reminders so a single exposure, if relevant, can make the sale.”
A recent study by Nielsen, in fact, does indicate a single exposure to a radio commercial on Portland radio could generate increased sales for a Maine small business owner. The study also indicates, higher levels of frequency create an exponentially greater lift to sales.
The study, conducted over a three month period late last year, revealed that a radio advertising campaign conducted by an auto aftermarket retailer delivered $21 in increased sales for every $1 spent on commercials.
According to Westwood One who commissioned the latest study, Nielsen matched its Portable People Meter panel with credit and debit card spending data in order to compare purchases of those exposed to the radio campaign with consumers who were not exposed. The results continue to demonstrate radio advertising's jaw dropping ability to improve a business owner's bottom line.
Although, as Mr. Ephron predicted, low levels of frequency did positively affect sales, the greatest sales lift derived from listeners who heard the retailer's commercial 7+ times.
So, how much frequency is enough when advertising on Portland radio? The more the better!
More great advice for Maine small business owners:
- Portland Radio: Turning Nickels Into Dimes For Maine Small Business
- Choosing A Portland Radio Station To Market Your Maine Small Business
- Portland Radio Drives Maine Small Business