Mobile Reach and Reach Efficiency

Reach and Reach Efficiency in Digital Advertising

by | Apr 14, 2015

Reach might just be the most fundamental aspect of all digital advertising.

Reach attempts to answer a very simple question: is my message being delivered to the audience I want?

It’s the entire point of why we pay to advertise – to expose our products and services to as many applicable people as possible.

In the mobile ad space, reach is broadly measured by impressions.

Impressions count how many times consumers are exposed to an ad. It is important to note that impressions (and more largely, reach) do not measure whether or not a person took a desired action such as a purchase.

Instead, it’s simply a matter of exposure. That’s all.

How Reach is Changing

In today’s complex digital advertising landscape, reach has become a difficult thing to track. Surging demographic trends show increased use of multiple devices, most notably smartphones and tablets that offer the unique ability to accompany a consumer wherever they go.

The result is unparalleled consumer data and accessibility, but it comes at the price of added complexity.

Recent Nielsen data demonstrates that only 59 percent of ad impressions reach their intended audience, a 10 percent dip from 2013. Much of this change has to do with the way in which advertisers now target audiences.

Device complexity grants advertisers with the ability to target incredibly specific mobile audiences. Key demographic segments have largely replaced broader segments in the fight for advertiser attention.

For instance, let’s say young men, age 19-24, have shown a high propensity to use the ESPN sports mobile app. This tells advertisers two things:

  1. this particular demographic really likes sports, and
  2. the ESPN sports app is where advertisers can find them.

The campaign practically plans itself. But think about the flipside.

If advertisers pour all their time and money into targeting young men with sports ads on the ESPN app, they are inevitably going to reach other audience segments they didn’t intend that fall outside the male 19-24 demographic.

Reach Efficiency

Reach efficiency is a concept born from this need to address such rising complexity. Reach efficiency is exactly what it sounds like – it measures how efficiently an ad campaign reaches its target audience.

Reach efficiency uses what are called gross rating points (GRPs). A GRP is assigned to impressions multiplied by its frequency. Essentially, the percent of audience reached is multiplied by the number of times the ad is seen.

Ideally, advertisers want the highest percent reach for the lowest amount of frequency. An ad that’s duplicated 5 times and attains 75 percent reach is much more efficient than an ad that has to be duplicated 10 times to achieve that same 75 percent rate.

That’s reach efficiency in a nutshell.

Reach efficiency allows marketers to effectively analyze the performance of different campaigns with otherwise similar parameters.

Viewability & Reach Efficiency

In a related study, Nielsen noted that the main factor in campaign performance variance came down to a website’s ability to serve and optimize ads effectively.

Issues with ad fraud and viewability make the need to properly verify a site’s ability to deliver actual impressions that much more critical. An ad that never makes it to its intended audience decreases the overall efficiency of the campaign.

For this very reason, we developed our own pre-bid placement verification platform, AdScore™, to help advertisers ensure value through increased viewability. Alongside our proprietary mobile DMP AudienceArchitect™, advertisers now have access to an incredibly wide yet targeted reach of verified mobile users.

Reach is a vital underpinning of effective advertising strategy. It helps to get any message to any audience, and through use of advanced technological tools, brands can now do so effectively and efficiently.


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