At its core, advertising is about reaching as many relevant people as possible. To do this, advertisers target their ads against their desired audiences and thus prevent wasting ad dollars on simply spraying and praying. However, to cost-effectively reach your target audience, it is essential to identify the optimal media mix and allocate your budget accordingly. The key to this is to stop focusing on impression counts and start focusing on net reach.

Media consumption behaviour constantly evolves, making advertising in today’s media landscape quite challenging. For instance, we have previously documented how audiences are increasingly shifting their attention from linear TV to streaming, which, incidentally, you can learn more about in our Linear TV and streaming study. Consequently, advertisers need to measure their campaigns in a different way than previously to understand how to reach them.

Measuring campaigns in a technical way

There is a tendency ​​to look at digital campaigns on a very technical level, specifically by asking how many impressions have I delivered? Therefore, the prominent metric for digital campaigns has been impression counts. In our opinion, advertisers have, for far too long, used impression counts as a false proxy for success.

For more ‘traditional’ channels, like TV and print, impressions are not a relevant metric. Instead, these channels are evaluated on the reach they generate. Advertisers investing in these channels are hence asking questions like how many people have I reached and how many of them are in my target audience?

In light of the “coming of age” of the digital media genre, it is logical that digital campaigns are also measured on the net reach achieved instead of the impressions delivered – not least to enable a comparison of performance across different channels.

Understanding your true reach

Also, when measuring the on-target percentage of campaigns, it is important that advertisers focus on reach rather than impressions.

If you measure impressions, you get insight into the on-target percentage of impressions delivered. In this case, you can e.g. learn that 90% of the impressions delivered are within the target audience, which is great. What you don’t know, however, is how many people you reached with your impressions. After all, if the 90% on-target impressions are attributable to only, say, three people, that would be no cause for celebration.

On the other hand, if you measure reach, you get insight into the on-target percentage of individuals reached. In this case, you can e.g. learn that 70% of the individuals reached are within the target audience, which is excellent work if your target audience is females, who make up 50% of the population. Your media planning and data have then worked well – success!

In other words, focusing on reach in target audience provides you with a much better understanding of the actual success of your campaign. Additionally, it provides you with a comparable metric that can be used across different channels, including TV, print and even OOH and can thus provide you with a holistic view of your campaigns’ performance.

Start measuring today

It all starts with good planning.

When you have defined your target audience, including socio-demographic characteristics such as gender, age and income, you can start planning which channels are better at reaching these people.

If you don’t know where to find your target audience, you can run experiments and measure the outcomes to identify which channels are most cost-effectively reaching your target audience. As mentioned above, it is crucial to measure the reach because it accounts for frequency, whereas just counting the accuracy of impressions doesn’t. Otherwise, you will not be able to determine how effectively you have reached your target group.

With AudienceProject’s sophisticated and people-based audience measurement solution, you will be able to understand business-changing insights such as:

  • Total de-duplicated reach in target audience
  • Incremental reach by channel in target audience
  • Reach overlap between channels
  • Cost per total and incremental reach per channel

With these insights, you can keep optimising your media investments based on qualified data to ensure that you reach as many relevant people as possible and don’t waste money on the wrong audiences who may never buy your products.

Learn more

Want to learn more about AudienceProject’s cross-media audience measurement platform? Please reach out to