Simulmedia: In the Quest for the Perfect Formula of Recency and Frequency of Promotional Exposure - Yuliya Torosjan - MediaBizBloggers

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Television marketers live and die by the effectiveness of their program promotions. Answers to questions about the optimal frequency of exposure to promotions and the optimal distance between exposure and airing of the program can determine success or failure of networks' primetime schedules.

In our analysis of audiences' responses to promotions, we find that one promotion exposure on the day the program airs, or three to four exposures within the three days of air appear optimal.

The "three times is a charm" magic recipe of promotional exposure that dominates the industry was first coined by a GE psychologist Herbert Krugman in the late 60's. Interestingly, it really had to do more with psychology than media terms. Krugman's three levels of exposure psychologically correspond to "Curiosity, recognition and decision" about a product. The first exposure elicits "What is it?" response; the second "What of it?" lets the person determine if a product has any personal relevance; and the third exposure is a reminder at which point a decision is made. The subsequent exposures according to this theory are only the repetitions of the first three.

Erwin Ephron's "recency theory" postulates that one exposure at a time when a consumer is ready to buy is sufficient. Since the work of Krugman and Ephron, researchers have been investigating the problems of frequency and recency and coming up with conflicting results.

The preliminary study that we conducted was designed to help confirm or dispel the historically held beliefs about frequency and recency. In the first part of the study examining the effect of recency, we isolated an audience of viewers who were exposed to the promotion exactly once prior to show's premiere. We then segmented these viewers based on the day when they saw the promotion and examined the tune-in of these segments to the series premiere.

In the graph below, viewers exposed to promotion on the day of the premiere tuned in to the program at a much higher rate than those exposed on earlier occasions. There appears to be no other interpretable pattern for viewers who saw the promotion prior to the day of the premiere.

The second part of the study examined the effect of frequency of exposure to program promotion on tune-in. We assumed the recency was constant if all exposures occurred one to three days prior to the premiere and on no other dates before or after. The results showed that the rate of tune-in increased steadily from one to four exposures and decreased after the fifth exposure. We conclude that seeing promotion four times within the three days of program air date yields the best results on tune-in.

In summary, we find that one exposure is sufficient if it occurs on the day of the program. Otherwise, three to four exposures during the three days prior to the program tend to be optimal. Our preliminary results appear to confirm the conventional beliefs about recency and frequency.

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