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How to Leverage the “Frequency of Three” Principle in Radio Advertising

By Jenna Bruce on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 @ 10:27 AM |


Beyond choosing the right messaging, layout, images, colors, and media channels, marketers must choose the right advertising frequency for their campaigns. This is to say, they must determine the number of times their target audience will need to be exposed to their message before they take action.

But this is easier said than done. There is a delicate balance between convincing a prospect to buy from you, and beating them over the head with your message until they are completely turned off by the mere sound of your catchy jingle. Sure, you want to be the squeaky wheel and get that attention, but you don’t want to be so annoying you inspire people to ignore you.

And to complicate matters even further, frequency can differ depending on the media channel. People may need to see a print ad seven times, a digital ad nine times, and an OOH ad 12 times before the message sinks in.

But what about radio? What is the magic number when it comes to the right frequency of radio advertising?vintage antique radio dial.jpeg

Through our experience and the experience of our clients, we have found the sweet spot to be the magic number of 3. Hearing an ad just 3 times will build recognition and inspire action without risking listener wearout and having them turn the dial.

But, just because 3 is the magic number doesn’t mean your ads can be ho-hum and still get the reaction you want. If you want to leverage effective frequency in radio advertising, you must still follow a few important rules:

Understand Your Audience

To craft the right messaging, every marketer must know exactly who their target audience is. How well do you know your prospects? What are their pain points? What music do they listen to? What time do they tune into their favorite radio station? Are they influenced by a particular DJ? In order to select the right stations and dayparts for your campaign, you’ve got to uncover these answers. And, to help you craft the right creative, determine how your audience prefers to be spoken to and if they will prefer a long or short commercial spot.

Remember – Recognition is Key

You know you have to develop brand recognition so your messaging is received across multiple channels. But don’t assume your creative needs to be static to be recognized. Static generally equals, well, dull or worse - annoying.

Your ads can and should have variations on the same message, which means you should be developing slightly different creatives. And, as long as they all use the same brand jingle, slogans and taglines, your brand will be easily recognized.

Radio Scheduling VS Frequency

Are you ready for a curve ball?

The frequency at which your audience must be exposed to your ad is NOT the same thing as the number of times your ad will need to run on the radio each week.

Think about it: if you only ran your ad three times per week, there is a really, really good chance your audience would miss it entirely. In order to air the ad the right amount of times to reach that magical frequency number of 3, you will need to do a little math (don’t worry it’s easy):

(Magic number 3) X (Days of the week 7) = (Number of times ad should run every week 21).

So, you should look to run your ad roughly 21 times during the week to hit that frequency goal.

By airing your commercial on the radio a minimum of 21 times every week, you can easily and affordably reach optimal frequency.

And, by following these three radio advertising rules, you will be able to develop a truly effective marketing strategy that reaches the right audience at the right time with the right messaging.


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