Frequency, Frequency, Frequency

We’ve all heard ads that feature booming ringmaster voices beginning with “HURRY, HURRY, HURRY!” These ads are usually cheesy, but the repetition of words makes you pay attention to find out why you need to hurry. The frequency of words, as well as how many times the ad is aired, is a key component to the successful execution of the ad.

Webster’s dictionary defines frequency as “the number of times that something is repeated in a period of time.” This applies primarily to soundwaves, but is applicable to the media world too.

Even with advancements in identifying an audience’s media consumption, you never truly know what people are watching or listening to. For this reason frequency is the driving component of any media buy or plan for our clients. The question is, how much exposure is needed to get a message across? There is no magic number.


Russ Klein, CEO for the American Marketing Association, shared this graph illustrating the effectiveness of frequency at the HRAMA luncheon in December 2015.

Since the mid-1960s there have been multiple studies regarding what the exact effective frequency should be. General Electric’s study said that an ad must be run two to three times to communicate the desired message to the audience. Dupont’s study found that three was the effective frequency, and Alvin Achenbaum (marketing consultant) said three to ten. The number three shows up consistently in these studies, so I believe that number is an excellent starting point (although we tend to agree with Achenbaum that more is better).

Multiple exposures support the old marketing acronym of AIDA- Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. First you have to gain the potential customers attention to generate an interest in your product, creating desire and ultimately leading to the action of buying, which is the goal. Frequency can aid any product’s sales growth. It can help you stand out from your competition and establish your brand as the preference.

When developing or evaluating your media buys, remember: Frequency, Frequency, Frequency. You never know when the customer is watching or listening.

If you have any questions about frequency or how a well planned media buy can help increase your bottom line, please contact our Media Think Tank at or  leave a comment below.

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