top of page
Blog_Header Picture.png
  • Writer's pictureJennifer Vanisko

ELI5 - Media KPIs

I’m a big fan of Reddit’s ExplainLikeImFive (ELI5) forum. This subreddit is a place where complex and sometimes obscure questions are answered in great detail in the simplest terms. ELI5 means breaking down a topic into reader friendly layman’s terms that the average person could understand. If taken literally, it’s a way to answer a question so that a five-year-old could understand.

Speaking of children, I read that Jeopardy champion James Holzhauer prepared for his record winning streak by studying children’s books, which often explain complex information in simple, child friendly formats.

So, whether you want to be the next Jeopardy champion or just a simple explanation of key media terms and KPIs, here is your ELI5 guide to media terms and KPIs:

First, let review what KPIs are and why they are important. KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. Businesses use KPIs to determine performance, see if goals are being met and analyze whether changes need to be made. Media KPIs are the metrics used to determine if a business’s advertising or media placement strategy is effective. Not every KPI is applicable to every media channel. In advertising and media placement there are hundreds of KPIs, let’s review some basic ones:


ELI5: Impressions are how many times an ad ran. Simply, impressions are a count of the total number of times your ad has the potential to be seen. In digital advertising, impressions are the number of times your ad appears on your computer, tablet or mobile screen, whether or not someone actually ‘sees’ it. On the other hand, if your ad is an outdoor bulletin board, impression is the number of people who may drive by the bulletin board over a given period. Impressions are expressed as a raw number. In the marketing funnel, impressions are a KPI used to analyze the top of the marketing funnel and measure awareness.


ELI5: Reach is how many people are exposed to your ad. Reach is the number of unique people exposed to your ad at least once. Reach can be expressed as a percentage of the total target audience or as a raw number. In simple terms, if your target audience is 100 people and your ad is served to 55 of those people, then your reach is 55 or 55%. Like impressions, reach is a measurement of brand awareness and it’s a KPI used to analyze awareness and is at the top of the marketing funnel.


ELI5: Frequency is how many times a person saw your ad. Frequency usually accompanies impressions and reach KPIs. Frequency tells us, on average, how many times a unique person was exposed to an ad over a specified period of time. It is well known that individuals need to be exposed to ads multiple times before it ‘sticks’ and becomes effective. However, there is a fine line between effective frequency and over exposure resulting in ad fatigue and annoyance. Measuring frequency, or enabling frequency caps, is important to get that balance right. Like impressions and reach, frequency helps build brand awareness.

Impressions, Reach and Frequency are an awful lot alike in that they all are used as KPIs at the top of the marketing funnel and measure brand awareness. But they each tell a different part of the story. You cannot truly measure brand awareness without the data for each metric separately and analyzing that data set as a whole. For example, your ads runs 10,000 to 2,000 people. Your impressions are 10K, your reach is 2K, and your frequency is 5. You need to know each of these figures in order to see the full picture and determine if adjustments are needed to reach your goal. If your goal is brand awareness, is your message “sticking”, is your target audience receiving enough of your ads to be effective or are they receiving too many and are annoyed? Is your reach sufficient in regard to percentage of total audience? Is that 2K reach equivalent to 5% or 55% of your target audience? If your campaign goal is to increase brand awareness, measuring impressions, reach and frequency is important to determining the success of your campaign.

At A3 Media, we design media plans with goals clearly defined before implementation and we constantly track these and other KPIs to ensure that goals are met or exceeded to ensure the success of your advertising campaign.


About A3 Media

A3 transforms media from an expense into a smart investment. Since 1997, we have successfully helped regional businesses launch new products, expand into new markets and increase sales through media plans that make every dollar spent do more. Our clients include brands such as Yuengling and Ashley Furniture. For more information about how A3 Media can help your digital marketing efforts, please call A3 Media at (610) 631-5500.

bottom of page