Debates regarding scheduling strategy are nearly as old as advertising itself.   Ultimately, questions center on concentrated bursts (separated by hiatus periods) versus more continuous approaches with fewer (or at least shorter) hiatus periods.  Often these discussions also deal with effective frequency and time frame (i.e. how many times must the target be reached within some specific period of time to drive the desired response metric).  These issues are often viewed as being interrelated, because longer flights or heavier weight levels typically lead to longer hiatus periods between scheduled activities.

Ultimately, optimal scheduling is widely believed to vary by brand and product based on things such as:

  • Target involvement in category
  • Marketing and communication objectives
  • Existing Brand awareness
  • Competitive pressures
  • Complexity of message
  • Quality of creative
  • Purchase cycle
  • Seasonality

Prevailing theories center upon a few important concepts that are central to any scheduling analysis:

  1. “Adstock” (Carry-Over Effect of Advertising Exposure and Subsequent Decay)
    Simon Broadbent (Leo Burnett U.K. and later BrandCon Limited) introduced the idea of “adstock” in the 1980s and 1990s, and it has been built upon and debated since that time.Adstock…

    • Focuses on the impact that advertising has over time on key metrics (sales, awareness, brand imagery).
    • Individual exposures do not occur in a vacuum, but are instead part of a continuum or a “bank” of advertising impact that follows from past exposures and carries over to future exposures.
    • Effects of advertising (as measured by response … awareness, sales, etc.) do not end as soon as ads have been seen, but rather decay over time toward a base level, unless this decay is reversed by subsequent exposures.  In effect, these are countervailing forces, where advertising exerts upward pressure, while forgetting (gravity) exerts downward pressure, potentially overcoming the impact of advertising during hiatus periods, particularly if they are extended.

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