The goal of the advertiser is to select a media schedule from among the many available alternatives that will maximize some combination of the number of people reached and the frequency with which they are reached. Such a decision presupposes that advertises have specified the market segments they want to reach. They must then decide (1) what frequency of message exposure is desired in order to effect a change in behavior that will affect the sales of their brand favorably and (2) the maximum number in the market segment that can be reached with that frequency. The greater the frequency desired, the smaller the reach obtainable with a given budget.
The problem of media selection is complicated because not only is it necessary to choose among major media types, such as newspapers, bill boards, magazines, radio, and television, but also specific selections must be made within each general type. If magazines are chosen, specific magazines and even issues must b selected. In radio and television there is not only the question of what networks or stations, but what programs what day or days of the week and what time of the day.
While the copy itself is thought to play the primary role in effecting a favorable impression, the media selected affect such things as the recall of the advertising message, the rating of its sponsors, and coupon return.
There is little doubt but what the character of a media vehicle will influence advertising effectiveness. Thus, such factors as editorial climate, target population’s enthusiasm, and the amount and type of advertising carried will likely impact a media vehicle’s effectiveness with respect to advertising. The problem is that it is almost impossible to identify and weight such factors for alternative vehicles at the time the advertising is scheduled.
The number of readers, viewers or listeners is basic in selecting a medium; but the characteristics of such persons must also be considered, because not all persons are prospective buyers for a particular product. Some persons are better prospects than others because they consume greater quantities of the product type. Thus, an important step in making media comparisons is to distinguish between prospects and non-prospects in the audiences provided by the alternative media. The Advertising Research Foundation suggests that, following the elimination of non-prospects, the media analysts pay attention to the six levels at which the media vehicle operates to contribute to the effectiveness of the advertising message. These are as follows:
1. Vehicle distribution: This refers to the individual medium’s circulation – the process by which it becomes available.
2. Vehicle exposure: This deals with the exposure of people to the vehicle for example, reading a given issue of a magazine or watching a particular television program.
3. Advertising exposure: This is the same as level 2 above, but it involves the advertisement. It requires that the message physically come within the audience’s attention range. It is likely that a sizable percentage of individuals who are classified as television viewers are actually engaged in other activities. Also, television commercials integrated in the program receive more attention than do those surrounded by other commercials and station breaks.
4. Advertising perception: This requires that the audience has conscious awareness of the advertisement. Perception of print advertising is affected by the size, color, and position of the advertisement, as well as the thickness of they vehicle. Measures are also influenced by product interest, past and present usage, and prospect status.
5. Advertising communication: The audience receives the message in a desired context.
6. Sales responses.
Audience Measurement Problems: Audience measurement is difficult, even at the definitional level of what constitutes a reader, a viewer, a listener. In addition there are other problems, including the following:
1. The variations in the composition and size of the audience of a given media vehicle over time.
2. The variations due to geography –for example, a television show may get a high rating in one area because only two channels are available and a much lower rating in another where five channels are present.
3. The variations resulting from the rate at which different vehicles accumulate audiences that is, variations in how many are reached over a time period, compared with one issue or program.
4. The difficulty of estimating the value of different sizes of message units within and between media – for example, the effectiveness of a 30-second television commercial versus a 60-second television commercial versus a full page advertisement in a general-interest magazine.
5. The actual geographical area covered. This is particularly difficult with electronic media.