AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerIs Reach Still Important in the Digital Age?

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Is Reach Still Important in the Digital Age?

Reach is a long-term staple of marketing research. It’s the constant across all media — from bench billboards to specialty magazines.

My first college advertising book from 1978 defines reach as “The number of different persons or households exposed to a particular media vehicle or media schedule at least once during a specific time period (“Advertising: Its Role in Modern Marketing,” Dunn and Barban). Yep, still accurate more than 40 years later.


I loved highlighters in college.

I believe reach is still important, but less so. It is just one metric to study and evaluate. One thing I do know now is that distribution is not reach. A newspaper delivered to a Walmart is not reach. Oonly when it is purchased should it be in circulation numbers. A digital ad on 40 display networks is not reach. A specialty magazine delivered to hotel rooms is not reach.

Real reach is the total number of people who will see your content. Now impressions are the number of times your content is displayed. Not read, not clicked, not understood. Reach is the number of unique people who see content. Impressions is the number of times something is delivered or distributed. Impressions are important to study for digital ads, but it is just one metric, like reach, that leads you forward.

You can have lower reach and lower impressions and rising clicks, purchases or conversions. That’s when the right message is delivered to the right audience.

Every message has a potential audience (reach and impressions), an actual audience and performance (conversions, sales, form fills, video views, etc.).



Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.