Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Is View Duration The New Frequency?

In a recent piece by Dave Morgan, the question came up as to how we fix TV’s reach problem.

“Over the past fifteen years, the average reach of national TV campaigns has dropped by 20% and individual spots by 80%, in spite of TV viewing being at an all time high.”

According to Mr Morgan, the Internet can’t do it. To try to replace this lost reach on TV by buying reach online is expensive and not even close to being comparable in terms of communication impact.

Mr Morgan is right. Substantial reach is no longer reachable on TV. And that is a problem. But the other problem that no one seems to be mentioning is frequency.

That is also disappearing. At least a large enough frequency amongst a large enough group of people to make advertising a worthwhile effort.

No reach. No frequency. No GRPs.

What the hell are we going to do?

What replaces frequency?

One answer is view duration. It’s hard enough to reach a person once, much less three times, so once you’ve got them, talk to them longer. The whole idea of a 3X frequency for a :30 spot is to get the viewer to spend :90 with your brand.

In other words, time spent with the brand, i.e. view duration, was always one of the objectives of frequency.

So now that we can’t reach that many people that many times anymore, we had better achieve in one go what used to take three.

In other words, make spots that are longer. And, more interesting. You can afford to buy longer spots online.

Yes, reach snd frequency will be smaller online. But because the spots can be longer, total time spent can stay high. If the creative is good.

GRPs used to be accepted as the measure of effectiveness. GRPS, of course, always left out creative as a factor.

But replace frequency with duration and what happens? Reach is a factor of media. Duration is a factor of the creative.

Both are now equally important.

In the analog world, we could buy share of time.

The formula was share of voice = share of mind = share of market.

What we are seeing now, with the disappearance of reach and frequency, is that we can’t buy a large enough share of voice no matter how much money we have. Which means we can no longer buy share of market through dollars.

We need to earn it through creative.

In the digital world, the formula looks like this.

Share of time = share of mind = share of market.

Share of time is as much a factor of creative as it is of media. Some might argue more of a factor.

After all, media might get the horse to water. But it’s creative that gets it to drink.

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