When we talk about the marketing and advertising industry, what we are really talking about is how many times we can get an advertisement in front of a member of our target audience.

It’s all about exposure to the media, and that exposure can be measured in numerous ways.

One of the ways we measure exposure is by measuring reach.

Reach is the total number of different consumers within a target audience who are exposed to an advertisement for a product or service.

This is, of course, is a very general definition, and there are numerous ways we quantify exposure and reach in order to better assist an advertiser in knowing how effective their marketing campaign is in delivering advertisements for their products and services to their target audiences.

As such, it’s a little easier to define what reach is not.

Reach is not the potential number of times an individual consumer views an advertisement; that measurement (the measure of all potential exposure) is a measure of impressions.

It does not refer to a total audience measurement of the ad; in other words, reach does not mean that a consumer actually looks at the advertisement and ingests it.

Effective reach only means exposure to the target audience.

The measurement system for reach is based on percentages; i.e. the percentage of your target audience who is exposed to your advertisement at least one time during the length of your campaign.

In terms of out of home (“OOH”) advertising, the question we get asked very frequently is “how is OOH reach calculated?”

This can be a difficult question to ask when considering some types of OOH campaigns, like billboards.

Obviously, when dealing with outdoor advertising and structures it’s much harder to quantify impressions and reach than it is in an online or social media environment where we can measure these metrics by hits, pings, geopaths, and IP addresses.

However, there are tried and true methods of calculating OOH advertising reach which are extremely reliable and have proven successful in quantifying how much reach you will get for an OOH advertisement.

What Do We Measure?

Most of the time, the metrics we measure have to do with traffic counts (pedestrian, vehicle, bicycle, etc.) based on the number of people that pass by any given OOH advertising campaign.

This can include billboard advertising, a transit advertisement, a digital billboard, street furniture, wallscapes, or point of sale displays.

We have the know how and have been measuring and producing this type of traffic data since the 1930s.

In order for any of this traffic to be measured and counted with the ability to reach, the vantage point of the consumer must be clear and unobstructed.

In other words, we don’t count traffic that passes a billboard traveling in the opposite direction when we measure, even though there’s a chance they could view the billboard.

How Do We Measure Reach in Out of Home Advertising?

When we measure the traffic that passes by certain out of home advertisements, we are looking for the daily effective circulation (“DEC”).

This measure, the DEC, stood as the gold standard in calculating impressions of out of home advertising for many years.

The problem, however, was that the way in which we calculated the DEC prior to 2009 included some pretty outdated methods.

Because of the outdated technology, advertisers would take the number of impressions a media owner would give them for a particular piece of inventory, and strike it down to a number they felt was more reliable, and in turn, there was a huge debacle overpricing and effectiveness.

The solution was the establishment of the Traffic Audit Bureau (“TAB”).

The TAB took the data collected from the DEC and sharpened it. By a series of experiments where drivers wore goggles that tracked their eye movement, the TAB was able to determine the percentage of traffic flowing past a media structure that actually viewed and ingested the advertisement displayed.

When they applied that number (the number of consumers in traffic that actually viewed the advertisement) to the DEC, they arrived at what is called the variable adjustment index, or VAI.

The VAI is now how we calculate impressions and reach.

Using the VAI can help advertisers determine if their out of home media placement is effectively reaching their target audience.

But how can having data that simply tells us how much traffic our advertisement sees help us know if we are actually reaching our target audience?

The answer to that question is found in census data.

How Does Census Data Help Us Calculate Reach?

Let’s look at an example of how an advertiser can use VAI and census data to determine how effective a particular advertisement’s reach will be.

For our example, we will use a plastic surgeon.

The plastic surgeon wants to run a series of billboards in a particular designated market area (“DMA”). A designated market area is a general area where an advertiser wishes to run an ad.

The target population of that advertisement will fall within this designated market area.

Our surgeon wants to target the greater Orlando area for his campaign.

Specifically, his target audience is going to be female patients between the ages of 21-54 with a median household income of $100,000 or higher.

Where should he place his billboards?

He will need to first find out (by using census data) the smaller areas within his DMA where the majority of his target audience live and work.

Let’s say that census data reveals three major suburbs of Orlando where the surgeon’s target audience lives. He decides to purchase billboards in those three areas.

For purposes of illustration, his target audience (women 21-54 with a household income of $100,000 or higher living in the greater Orlando area) is 100,000.

If 60,000 of those members of his target audience are exposed to his billboards, his reach is 60%.

It should be noted that with the move to digital out of home advertising (non-static billboards and signage) and the switch being made to programmatic advertising, calculating reach is much easier and a lot less variable than before.

Now, we are able to use a more automated system of data tracking to measure and quantify reach and impressions.

Part of this is the ability to now measure customer reaction on their smartphones and devices after they’ve been exposed to out of home advertising.

How Do I Make My Campaign’s Reach Successful?

Clearly, there are many variables when it comes to quantifying how successful an advertisement campaign will be.

It would take an advanced marketing degree or at least decades of experience producing campaigns and crunching the numbers to produce even a guesstimate of how much success you can expect unless you plan to use a marketing firm or media brokerage to do the job for you.

Most companies don’t have the manpower or the expertise to navigate these tricky waters on their own.

Whether they hire an in-house marketing professional or consult with an outside firm, the trend is to use an outside resource to handle a company’s marketing and advertising ventures.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Media Brokerage to Run an Ad Campaign?

If you are still considering going at it alone, here are some great reasons to reconsider using a reputable media brokerage like AdQuick to do the job for you.

First, a media brokerage can help you save time.

As previously mentioned, attempting to collect all of the data necessary to ensure your campaign is timely, in the proper locations, and reaches the appropriate people in your target audience requires a lot of time and resources.

When you use a media brokerage, that information is at your fingertips anytime you need it, from start to finish in your ad campaign.

At any time you can check the status of your campaign and be provided with analytics that helps ensure you are on target or if an adjustment needs to be made to help you better reach your target market.

Additionally, using a media brokerage saves you money.

If you are looking for out of home media inventory, you will save yourself a lot of money and headache by using a brokerage as opposed to attempting to contact individual media owners themselves and negotiate contracts.

You can count on a media brokerage to have a large inventory of media owners at their fingertips, all of whom are bidding for your advertisements.

Using a brokerage ensures you are getting the lowest price possible for your campaign.

Lastly, using a media brokerage helps you track your reach and the outcome of your campaign.

A media company has these analytics available to you when you need to see them. They can help you prepare for, execute, and wrap up a campaign and ensure the entire process is seamless and successful.

A company like AdQuick can help you take the headache out of the media buying process.

It can accurately approximate your reach prior to your campaign, track your effectiveness throughout your campaign, and determine the final reach post-campaign.

It can help streamline all your marketing campaigns and free your time to work on other, more important aspects of your business.

When considering how effective you want your advertisement’s reach to be, there’s no better option than consulting with true professionals and having them handle the job for you.