Reach matters

Ads don’t work if consumers don’t see them, which is why reach is such a critical part of campaign planning.

Reach matters

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Newspapers combined with television have the potential to build reach quickly, maximising the short term ROI, and complement each other by reaching potential consumers over the longer term, boosting purchase consideration.

Advertisers are never short of fashionable ideas – storytelling, behavioural marketing, neuro-marketing, big data, programmatic buying and more. Many of these are fads, so when it comes to campaign development well-established considerations are still as important as ever.

The two most critical factors are the creative and reach.

Creative matters because the quality of the execution is the single most powerful multiplier.

Reach is essential because the most powerful creative needs to be seen.

Overwhelming evidence states mass and multiple-media campaigns work, outperforming a single-media channel.

Newspapers are a powerful medium for building reach, especially in combination with television. Together, they provide incremental reach in the short term and offer complementary reach over time.

Know your timeframe

Clarifying your time frame is essential.

Setting a goal to reach 60 per cent of your audience 3+ times is meaningless without context. Trying to achieve this in a single week produces a different outcome to one that runs sporadically for a year.

This raises the question of which time frame to deploy: daily, weekly, four-weekly, yearly. The most useful period for setting reach objectives is weekly, based on typical purchase cycles and the impact advertising has on buying behaviour over time.

Key take-outs

The first ad exposure drives most of the sales in the short term…

But each additional TV ad in the week prior to purchase has less and less effect.

Weekly objectives should maximise reach over frequency, and using TV and newspapers is a cost-effective way to achieve this.

The effectiveness of an ad starts decaying after exposure…

Approximately half the effect wears off over the first two weeks, three-quarters after a month.

At this point it pays to reach consumers again. The high-reach delivery of TV and newspapers does this more efficiently than using a single media channel, such as TV only.

Maximise short-term impact

Most purchase decisions are made over short periods. An obvious example is buying groceries, which is done weekly and is often supplemented by top-up shopping. Intriguingly, buying a new car is made relatively quickly with purchase made in four weeks or less.1

Another influence on the time-frame factor is that advertising wears out. Up to 75 per cent of an ad’s impact on sales occurs within four weeks and then fades. Numerous studies demonstrate the biggest effect occurs when the audience first sees it.2 Subsequent exposures, by comparison, are marginal in their impact on buying behaviour.

Research by John Philip Jones in 1993 found 73 per cent of sales within a purchase cycle came from households exposed to one advertisement, and 27 per cent came from subsequent exposures.3

To gain the greatest ROI it pays to maximize short-term reach while minimizing duplication.

  • The starting point for reach planning is to aim to maximise weekly 1+ reach, while boosting 2+ reach as little as possible – that is, reach as many potential buyers as possible once in the same week.
  • But there is a problem. A short-term campaign is limited by the available audience. Commercial TV reaches about two-thirds of the population each week. So, no matter how many ads an agency books, it cannot reach the one-third who are not watching.4
  • This is why heavy TARP-weight TV campaigns don’t work particularly well over short time-frames. They miss the non-viewers and hit the others multiple times with rapidly diminishing return.
  • Spending budget in such concentrated bursts means there are no dollars left for the following weeks. Consequently, the advertising disappears, followed by declines in brand awareness, purchase consideration and sales.
  • The solution for reaching large numbers of potential buyers each week, while minimising wastage, is to add additional mass media. Newspapers are ideal for this purpose. The combined reach of the major national, metropolitan, regional and rural newspapers is 67 per cent of the population 14+, on-par with commercial television.
  • Including newspapers makes it possible to reach non- and light-consumers of the other medium. So although a third of us don’t watch commercial TV each week, 64 per cent of these non-viewers read one or more newspapers, providing a cost-effective way to add incremental reach. When an advertiser is launching a new product or promoting a short-term sale, newspapers plus television do the job faster and more efficiently than either medium on its own.

Building brands: 12 month reach

Longer term reach also matters. The customer who picks a competitive brand this week will be back in the market next week/month/year, and a brand needs their loyalty.

Advertisers want to reach every potential buyer but in practice that takes time; how long depends on the plan.

With newspapers, the reach depends on the selection of publications and number of ads over time. To give some idea of the potential, in a typical weekday The Age reaches 19 per cent of people in Melbourne while the Townsville Bulletin reaches 49 per cent of people in its home town.

Over time these figures increase, but at progressively slower rates. Cumulative reach will increase by about 50 per cent after one week, roughly double after four weeks, and increase two to three times after a year.5


After 12 months, even a single title delivers extremely high reach within its market, especially when targeted against heavier newspaper buyers, who tend to be above-average earners and spenders.

Add in multiple titles and the reach potential is even more impressive.

The combined reach of The Age and Herald Sun (Monday to Sunday) is 90 percent of Melburnians over a 12-month period.

Here’s where the opportunity for longer-term brand building lies. In addition to generating immediate sales, advertising also works to build brand consideration before buyers are in the market.

A McKinsey paper has found consistent advantages for brands that are in the initial consideration set.

While it varies by category, brands considered at the start of the buying process were more likely to be purchased than ones excluded.

Buyers of new cars and PCs were twice as likely to select from their initial consideration set than from a brand added during the evaluation phase. Telco and auto insurance buyers were 50 per cent more likely.5

McKinsey notes that company-driven marketing, led by traditional mass media advertising, is the most influential way to put a brand into the initial consideration set and remain important during the consideration phase and up to the time of purchase.6

Creative builds memory. Reach delivers opportunity

This is where complementary reach plays a role, finding the same consumer across both media channels. Over time, marketers who deliver this reach influence buyers who have been exposed to newspaper and TV messages.

Varying those messages by media channel increases the opportunity to engage and plays to the human behaviour that we consume content differently based on the channel that is delivers it.

Duplication is the advertiser’s curse in the short term, because multiple exposures in a weekly buying cycle have diminishing returns. But over longer periods of times – remember half to three-quarters of an ad’s sales effects wear off after four weeks – it’s essential to reach them again.

Evidence suggests that using multiple media channels, such as television and newspapers, will have a greater impact than a single-channel strategy.

Multiple exposures over time build brand salience. They establish and refresh memory structures around a brand, and create a link with the category. This makes the brand familiar and improves the likelihood of the brand being recalled and considered when the time to purchase arrives.7

This isn’t about a short-term versus long-term strategy, it’s about intelligently implementing both. The short-term sales underpin the long term success of the plan.

Tip of the iceberg

This discussion has focused on how print newspapers and television drive brand building and sales.

There are even greater opportunities to enrich the mix with other assets: mobile readership of newsmedia, specialist websites, local area marketing, events, and more. Newspapers offer a powerful range of options that add reach and creative opportunities to a campaign.

Print alone still plays a useful role. Combined with all of the other communication tools, the newspaper is essential.

Which is why a partnership of television and newspapers provides unparalleled advantages in cost efficiency, and in campaign effectiveness. There’s no better way to drive sales in the short term, or to build a brand and sales potential over time.


1 The Consumer Decision Journey |McKinsey Quarterly/ David Court, Dave Elzinga, Susan Mulder, and Ole Jørgen Vetvik, June 2009

2 The Total Long-Term Sales Effects of Advertising: Lessons from Single Source/Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 49 No. 2/Kate Newstead, Jennifer Taylor, Rachel Kennedy, and Byron Sharp/ June 2009

and Sue Moseley of TSMS: Television Sales and Marketing Services, U.K

3 What Does Effective Frequency Mean in 1997?/ Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 37 No. 4/John Philip Jones/July-August 1995; When Ads Work: New Proof that Advertising Triggers Sales/ John Philip Jones/ 1993.

4 Source: OzTAM and RegionalTAM, 5 cap cities, 5 aggregated markets (ie includes Tasmania), 01 January – 31 December 2013, all people, all day, metro and regional daily reach figures are combined to form a national estimate, excludes spill, total commercial free-to-air only (Free TV), based on consolidated data.

5 emma (Enhanced Multimedia Australia), 12 months to August 2014

6 The nature of these effects depending on which media are used in combination, and which advertising effects are measured. E.g see Building cross-media norms – optimising communication channels against marketing objectives/ ESOMAR Worldwide Multi Media Measurement (WM3), Budapest/William Havlena, Alexandre Kalluf and Robert Cardarelli/ June 2008

7 How Brands Grow/ Byron Sharp/2010

The author: Brian Rock is Research & Insights Manager at The Newspaper Works. Previous experience includes 11 years as Strategic Insights Manager at Network TEN, 3 years as Research Director at Mitchell Media Partners, and 8 years lecturing in Advertising and Marketing at RMIT University.

We hope you have enjoyed the information presented here. Connect with us for more insights and news about our industry.

If you have any questions or if you want to know more about how to apply the strategies discussed, please get in touch: or 02 96926300

View Part One of the series here.

View Part Three of the series here.

View Part Four of the series here.

View Part Five of the series here.


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