What Happened to Reach? Doesn’t Anyone Want to Talk About Online Reach/Frequency Anymore?


Both are integrated into adservers DART, and Atlas, respectively. It is also possible to do Reach/Frequency-related reports in ad serving systems. While these are not comparable to offline “reach” terminology, they do mimic some of the same activities: cross-site duplication of campaigns and campaign (rather than site) reach and frequency. While none of these tools are perfect, they’re a significant step in the right direction.

Have we all agreed that real time measurement and analysis means we don’t need to force fit an old model?

Maybe …this is definitely a valid point. With the widespread adoption of online video, and the onslaught of digital video opportunities it is very promising to think that we may be able to move away from the “mythical Neilson home” measurement of ratings.

Today we are using online RF to plan against communication goals, using reach as a planning tool to measure audience penetration. We don’t hold much stock in these numbers as soon as the plan goes live. Of course in the world of online, this is when the real work begins. Optimizations based on performance, not fantasy. While RF is a great tool out of the gates, I implore planners to use the real time information you have, such as cross-site duplication and frequency conversions.

Online frequency capping turned out to be an incredible strength and tool when looking to convert. Let’s not try to retro-fit online, just make sure that your clients flowcarts don’t have a blob of impressions where it says “online.” We owe ourselves more than that.

The money has finally arrived, so we forgot… or kept our mouths shut ?

Yes and yes. Lets be honest, the money is flowing and free time is at an all time low. According to Deutshe Bank, 2006 is predicted to bring in $15.1 Billion. That’s up from about $6 Billion in 2003. If online RF was a means to an ends, then the ends got here sooner than we expected. It’s hard to worry about such trivial things when we are now actually trying to deliver on this enormous increase in demand for online advertising. Finally the results and measurability online advertising offers are speaking for themselves.

So let’s consider the debate dead for now, but with good reason. If you asked me in 2002, I would have said that by 2006 I would be watching TV on my cell phone, driving a hybrid car, and buying my online media from publishers solely on GRPs and TRPs (Target Audience GRPs). Two out of three ain’t bad.


  1. I guess the answer comes in the form of a fairly simple question: Can anyone tell for certain what the reach of the Internet is? Reach in Television involved pre-determined areas of influence known as DMA’s. Even the networks were able to rely on Census data to target Households. How do you do that on the web? We might as well go back to using “Hits” as the online metric, it’s about as valid. We made it to the “adult table” because of our ability to track reactions at an infinite level. That will also be the reason why we’ll end up owning the adult table. Stay the course and do not let old media habits presume their way is better. It isn’t, it was just the closest they could get to predictive.

  2. As the person who wrote the ARF standards when I was chair of the ARF Online Media Council, I can talk to the R/F issue ad naseum. I personally stopped writing and speaking about it from a frustration standpoint. That we need accurate metrics goes without question. Traditional advertisers are always asking us what the Web schedule adds to their traditonal media schedule from a R/F standpoint. But the fact remains that NONE of the vendors in the space paid any attention to the ARF guidelines or white papers. NetRatings and comScore do not tie their data back to third party ad server impression data. They are very rough estimates and in most cases overstate reach. Most planners don’t even know this, they just blindly use the numbers, because they are there. Even Doubleclick, which licenses the IMS system to report out NetRatings data, has not attempted to merge the two datapoints, even though most planners think, because it comes from DC, it has their data in it. Much of the blame can be directed at investment that stopped after the bubble burst. But we have to get over that eventually and finish the job. The reality is that if we do not finish the job, new technologies will come along to solve the metrics problem and the companies that are passively collecting agency, site and advertiser dollars for incomplete data will be playing catch up rather than leading the pack.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here