The problem with the term “frequency”, in media scheduling of advertising exposures (OTS), is that it can refer to more than one thing.
The media agency can report “last year we achieved 98% reach of your target market with an average frequency of 24”. Which sounds as if your advertising was reaching practically everybody, every fortnight – great.
But it means nothing like that. In reality it probably means reaching some people (e.g. heavy TV viewers) many times, like more than 100 times. While an awful lot of people received only one or two OTS (that’s opportunities to see) in the entire year.
Sounds scary. But the real point I want to make is that even when we get a report on the typical frequency (e.g. “half of the target consumers received between 4 and 8 exposures”) this can mean around once every two months, or 4-8 in January following by 11 months of silence. Actually the latter is more likely given many advertising campaigns.
So “frequency” can mean….
a) frequency in the sense of coverage over time, so that consumers don’t forget about us, and so when they make a category purchase the gap since the last time they saw one of our ads isn’t too long
b) frequency in the sense of repeatedly seeing our advertising several times close together so that they can understand and learn the advertisement.
The two sorts of “frequency” are very different from each other.
PS The (b) type of frequency is based on some old, discredited, ideas about learning and advertising.