Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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Taking the "Freak" out of Frequency.

If you hang around the same dark internet alleys and byways that I do, you hear a lot of discussion about advertising on the internet. Most of the discussion emanates from what I call "traditional agency" types -- people in large, old-fashioned ad agencies that still believe marketing and media strategies haven't changed much from say, 1952. Oh, they know about the web. But when pressed, they tell you that the web"is sort of like TV you can watch through your computer."

Don't laugh. That's a direct quote I got from a guy who runs a $200 million agency.

Of course, there's a lot of differences between traditional advertising and the internet variety -- especially when it comes to media "frequency". You see, although creating the ad is important, how often the target audience gets your message ("frequency") works completely differently in each respective medium.

With traditional media, the idea is to put the ad or commercial in as many places as many times as possible, in the hopes that your target viewers will see it enough times to make some sort of impression on them. You put a few spots on "I Love Lucy", a few on the playoff postgame show and pretty soon, the phone starts ringing. Conventional thinking states that the more often the public sees your ad, the more likely they will be to respond to it. Or get sick of it.

But on the net, frequency ain't where it's at, because -- and stop me if this HASN'T ever happened to you -- the minute someone click s on your page and doesn't see what they like, they're outta there. For good. So who cares how many times they see an ad for your stuff? They came, they saw, it sucked. They're not coming back, the same way you're not going back to that restaurant that served you soup with the cockroach on the side.

"Ah," I hear you musing, "but what about this push technology, Rob? I hear it's all the rage!" Hey, push this: push technology really isn't much more than bookmarks turned inside out. It's nothing more than visiting places you've already been to and liked, without you having to work as hard. Advertisers still have to make a favorable initial impression on you to get ther site into your push queue. And that, my friends, still takes advertising and marketing.

So where does that leave you? I'll tell you: right back at cyber square number one. To the understanding that frequency plays no part in the internet advertising mix. The internet is too efficient for traditional media models. It's a one shot deal. Let's face it: when was the last time a prospect tried you out after hearing about you ONE TIME?

They search you, they find you and if they like you, they come back. More importantly, if they hate you, they NEVER come back. It's not exactly the same thing as selling Buicks.

So when you're advertising on the internet, don't be taken in by those wonderful charts and graphs that purport to show you how many people will see this and do that. Sure, those columns and rows of numbers may give you a nice warm feeling, but in the end, the most important factor in your advertising program isn't going to be the frequency with which you advertise.

It's going to be the stuff I write about next Wednesday.

Rob Frankel

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