Category Archives: TV Media Planning

TV Media Planning Terms – calculating media reach and frequency using TVRs

Published / by Simon Foster

When media planners develop TV campaign plans they are often optimising the relationship between three sets of numbers:

  1. TVRs (or GRPs, or TRPs) – TVRs or TV rating points are a reflection a target audience using both demographics and geography. If there are 50m adults in the UK then 1 Adult National TVR is 1% of 50m – 500,000. If a national programme is watched by 2m adults it delivers 4 TVRs.
  2. Reach (or coverage) – Reach is the percentage of your target audience that is reached by a spot or a campaign.  TVRs build reach and frequency.  This is explained in more detail here.
  3. Average opportunities to see (OTS) – Average OTS is the number of times on average that a member of your target audience will see you ad.

There are some simple calculations to illustrate how these numbers work together.  There is one thing you will need to begin this process and that is a reach curve. A reach curve looks like this:

This curve describes the relationship between TVRs and reach. It  illustrates how your reach (sometimes called coverage) increases as you add more TVRs to your campaign.  You will see that with each additional 100 TVRs you add to your campaign, your reach increases more slowly. In practical terms this is because some of your target audience will see you ad more than once, even in the early stages of the campaign. This is called opportunities to see or OTS.

How do  we calculate OTS?

OTS is calculated by dividing your TVRs by your reach: At 300 TVRs we have about 70% reach. That means the average OTS is 300 / 70 = 4.2.

How many TVRs do you need?

To calculate this you need to multiply your target reach by your required OTS. So if you wanted 70% reach at 4 OTS your calculation would be 70 x 4 = 280 TVRs. If you wanted 70% reach at 5 OTS you’d need 350 TVRs. If you wanted 85% reach at 7 OTS you’d need almost 600 TVRs.

Can we calculate reach from TVRs and OTS?

Yes, but only to a point. Reach = TVRs /  OTS. So if you are planning 50 TVRs at 1.5 OTS it would seem that your reach would be 30%. However, reach is not easily predictable. This is for two reasons:

  1. First with you will see that whilst the growth in TVRs is linear, the growth in reach is non-linear i.e. it decreases as you add on every 100 TVRs. Between 0 and 100 TVRs we generate 50% reach. But when we add on the next 100 TVRs we only generate 65% reach at 200 TVRs.
  2. Different types of campaign on different stations, phased in different ways, with different use of daily schedules (dayparting) will increase reach in different ways. For example, a campaign that runs in weekday daytime between 9am and 5pm may struggle to get over 50% reach even at more than 300 TVRs. This is because you will not be reaching the audience that is working during the day.

How do TVRs build media reach and frequency?

Published / by Simon Foster

As we saw in the “what is a TVR” post a TVR is a percentage of a given target audience in a given geographic base.  But is a TVR any more than that? Well, yes it is. A TVR is an important factor in calculating how media activity builds reach and frequency. Reach is the percentage of your target audience seeing your ad at least once. Frequency is the number of times they see it.

How TVRs build campaign reach

Let’s assume you buy 100 TVRs in a given region. We know from our last post on TVRs that 100 TVRs is an amount of audience that is the equivalent of 100% of our target audience base.  But here’s the first important lesson in how TVRs build reach and frequency. 100 TVRs will not deliver 100% reach of that base.  In fact 100 TVRs will probably build around 50-60% reach depending on how those TVRs are distributed in the plan. So what is delivered by the TVRs that don’t deliver reach? Well, they deliver frequency.

How TVRs build campaign frequency

In the early stages of campaign, most people will see the ad only once. But some will see it twice and some may see it three times. Let’s say, for example, that 50% see it once, 20% see it twice and 15% see it three times 10% four times and 5% five times. These percentage total 100 and this is effectively how your 100 TVRs are distributed. This is called frequency distribution.

How to estimate frequency from TVRs and reach

There is a simple formula for estimating how TVRs deliver both reach and frequency.  Let’s continue to assume you have 100 TVRs. Frequency (sometimes called average opportunity to see or OTS) is calculated by dividing your campaign reach into your campaign TVRs. So, if you have 100 TVRs and your campaign delivers 50% reach then your average OTS is 100/50 = 2.

How many TVRs does my campaign need to be effective?

This depends upon whether or not you adopt the view that reach is more important than frequency.  Modern “recency” planning advocates (John Philip Jones, Erwin Ephron, Byron Sharp) argue that each point of reach will deliver more sales response than additional points of frequency (i.e. the percentage of people seeing the ad twice, three times etc). So they advocate building maximum reach on a weekly or a monthly level, but not building frequency. To achieve this objective media planners will seek between 100 and 150 TVRs per week and often plan the delivery of these TVRs in a week on, week off “drip” pattern. This type of campaign plan tends to suit campaigns that are designed to regularly remind consumers about a product they are already aware of.

More traditional media planning approaches (Krugman for example) suggest a minimum frequency of 5 OTS before a message begins to resonate with a prospect.  Our calculation tells us that if we want to achieve 80% reach at 5 OTS we will need 80×5 = 400 TVRs. Targeting an average of 7 OTS would require 560 TVRs. You can see why a launch campaign would typcially be around 600 TVRs.

More advanced forms of planning use statistical modelling to estimate the sales response curve to advertising. These models show how budget and TVRs drive sales response (could be retail or online sales) on a weekly basis and forecast when spend levels will hit diminishing returns. For more on this please see

Thanks to Ivan Clark for comments.

DRTV Response Rates

Published / by Simon Foster

We’re often asked to forecast or estimate campaign response rates, especially in DRTV. Here are some guidelines for those who want them:

Set 1 – DRTV Phone Response Rates (high to low range as a percentage of total impacts)

  • DRTV Type 1 – Hard Hitters – these DRTV hard hitters, with no nonsense creative, usually on a 60 second time length can achieve between 1% and 0.05%. But please note, exceeding 0.05% is a very rare achievement in DRTV. It’s usually delivered through a combination of an extremely powerful ad, very strong product, with a great offer transmitted on a low level but highly responsive audience. It is very difficult to exceed 0.05% at scale.
  • DRTV Type 2 – Lead Generators – these DRTV ads are usually seeking subscription trials, leads, quotes etc and run on time lengths between 30 seconds and 60 seconds.  Response rates tend to be around 0.05% and 0.005%.
  • DRTV Type 3 – Brand Response – these ‘BRTV’ soft sellers produce lower responses generally in the range of 0.005% to 0.0005%

Set 2 – DRTV Web Response Rates (high-low range as a percentage of total impacts)

  • DRTV Type 1 – Hard Hitters –  these are high response rate ads will generate 2-3 times their phone response equivalents so around  2% and 0.1%
  • DRTV Type 2 – Lead Generators – web response rates to these tend to generate around 0.5% and 0.05%.
  • DRTV Type 3 – Brand Response – these BRTV soft sellers produce lower responses generally in the range of 0.05% to 0.005%

How to get the best from DRTV

Published / by Simon Foster

Many advertisers are returning to Direct Response Television (DRTV). Whilst the goal today is to maximise web response as opposed to phone response, many of the rules of traditional DRTV remain constant. Here’s a summary of how to get the best from Direct Response TV:

  1. Remember all DRTV begins with the offer. Whilst issues around DRTV performance are often seen as “creative” or “media” we need to remember that the proposition to consumers is key to DRTV success. If you are offering free Ferraris you will not need to think in terms of creative or media optimisation. The offer will work. Equally, if you are offering a poorly differentiated product or service, you will find it difficult to sell. Your problems will be exacerbated further if you are in a mature market packed with established offers.  So ask yourself the “so-what” question against every line of copy. If you wouldn’t buy it, no-one else will.
  2. Develop compelling DRTV creative. DRTV seeks behavioural change, and consumers need to be given good reasons to stop what they’re doing and do something else. You need to talk in terms of meaningful benefits. There are certain category rules that are helpful. If you’re selling a financial product don’t use jokes. For most people, talking about their hard-earned money is not a funny business. Concentrate on explaining why the product is different, what it offers that is new and why your target audience should find out more.
  3. Be careful with emotional sales messages. Most mainstream advertising seeks to build emotional connections between people and brands. For many brands this is the right approach, but if you want to sell off the screen, stick to promoting the benefits that make you different and giving good reasons to buy.
  4. Make sure the creative identifies your target audience. Everyone watches broadcast media. The trick to making DRTV work is to create a sense of identification between you and your target audience. Show people and situations that your target audience will identify with. Create the impression that your target audience belongs in the ad.
  5. Understand the economics of broadcast media. TV companies use every possible device to maximise the financial yield on the audience they are selling. Yield is the revenue generated by advertising over the cost of attracting that audience i.e. producing or buying the programming.  High quality peak programming is expensive to produce or buy. More people are at home available to view during peak viewing times (5pm to 11pm) so audiences are higher. So TV companies put their highest cost, highest quality programming into the times of day when most people are available to view.  Moreover, ad agencies want high reach, so there is high demand for high quality, high audience programming. All this makes peak airtime expensive both in terms of unit cost and capital cost. The premiums embedded in peak mean it sells at rates that rarely work for DRTV advertisers. But off-peak airtime is an entirely different matter….
  6. Unlock the benefits of off-peak airtime. Everybody watches off-peak TV; young, middle-age, old, affluent, less well off, single, married, students, working people and those who’re retired. People take holidays and have days off. But most importantly, the homemaker watches daytime TV and the homemaker is often the person who researches and makes financial plans.  Daytime can be ideal for reaching family decision makers. Daytime can be ideal for reaching students and it can be ideal for reaching affluent grey markets. Off-peak is the place to test your product in DRTV.
  7. Test. When you construct a test think about the questions you want to answer. You could test creative A versus creative B.  You could test phone versus SMS or web response. You could test a longer ad versus a shorter ad. And of course you need to test channels and stations. You can construct your test in time blocks – Station 1 with creative A in week 1, station 1 with creative B in week 2,  station 2 with creative A in week 3 and station 2 with creative B in week 4. This way you can analyse the incremental response in each week an look at its cost and conversion characteristics. When you have analysed your results you can “roll out” into the optimal mix of creative and media options.
  8. Measure and learn. DRTV is direct response marketing and the lifeblood of direct response is quantified planning and control. Using BARB data it is possible to match minute by minute audience data with your minute by minute click traffic. This allows advertisers to build a response database which matches TV audience with web response. Each spot can be defined by a number of planning variables that can be controlled: day of week, time of day, channel, proximity to previous spot, length of spot and creative execution. All these factors can be combined and used to optimise future DRTV media buys.