Not All Ad Frequency is Created Equal


NCSolutions (NCS) has released new research to help marketers differentiate and quantify the sales boost of recency (recent) vs. iterative (repeat) advertising frequency.

According to a new NCS study on how advertising works, recent advertising exposure (or recency frequency) is more effective at driving incremental sales for consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands than iterative (or repetition) frequency in marketing campaigns.

Recency Iterative frequency is described as a frequency that gives reach in a shorter period. Frequency is defined as the delivery of the same message to a consumer regularly over a short time.

NCS wanted to test if a message consumers see when they are exposed to the same ad several times in a day or week while consuming media on various platforms performs the same as a message consumers see when exposed to the same ad several times in a day or week. The NCS research and development team aimed to assess better and convey the value of frequency. The findings were made public during the ARF 2022 Audience X Science Conference.

What Did We Set Out to Discover?

The meta-analysis included 68 brand ads from diverse categories of consumer packaged goods. It looked at recency frequency levels and the correlations between % recency, average frequency, campaign length, media expenditure, and CPM.

Marketers understand that constantly delivering the same advertising message to customers isn’t as effective as reminding them why they should consider buying a product every week. The findings and methods of the NCS research show why and give marketers a means to think about how their advertising affects the customer route to purchase. Finally, this strategy aids them in increasing their return on advertising spend, or ROAS.

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To create meaningful experiences along the consumer journey and become/remain a “sticky” brand, marketers must be more deliberate in how they connect and engage individuals. This new metric, in particular, could assist marketers to comprehend better or detangle these interactions and the material delivered to customers within these moments, allowing them to provide a better experience with and for brands.

This new study builds on findings made in the 1980s and 1990s when recency theory was first introduced to the business. Compared to the previous four-week time period norm in place since the 1950s, this effort resulted in the standardization of one-week reach and frequencies.

The Frequency Evolution

NCS’s new work reveals the physics behind recency frequency, with a nostalgic nod to their decades-old discovery that advertisement exposure near purchase had a significant impact on sales. With the introduction of digital marketing in the early 2000s, large numbers displaced small numbers, and reach became a critical campaign metric. Frequency was no longer linked to attention but rather to a collection of all stimuli.

According to household-level marketing data, frequency can produce a more significant sales lift, but it has decreasing returns and costs more than the lift it delivers. As a result, greater than once-a-week frequency has a substantially lower ROAS and incremental dollars per impression (DPM).

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NCS offers a free usage license which can be found on their website. Visit the How Advertising Works website for more information and research.


About Author

Barb has worked within the digital advertising and marketing space for over 20 years. Over the years, she found it difficult to find information on the simplest of subjects tied to the digital marketing space, so she decided to embark on a journey to create a space that others may appreciate.

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