We recently shared the differences between marketing and advertising and highlighted the importance of fostering a strong brand and advertising in the watering holes of your target audience. 

When marketing your business, connecting with customers across the media channels and platforms they actively use is critical. But after identifying the mediums your target audience engages with, how do you prioritize your spending and determine the right media mix? Comparing reach versus spend can provide valuable insights as you allocate your marketing budget.

Keep reading to learn more about comparing reach and spend and how these advertising KPIs vary across popular mediums. 

Comparing Reach vs. Spend

Blog graphic representation comparing reach and spend in advertising

One of the key components of successful advertising campaigns is finding the right balance of reach and spend across key mediums. Let’s dive into these topics in more detail.

What Is Reach in Advertising?

Reach refers to the number of unique people who are exposed to a marketing message or ad campaign. It measures the audience size and indicates how many different people had the opportunity to see an ad.


Marketing spend refers to the amount of money invested in advertising and promotional activities over a given time period. It encompasses both the hard costs of media placement as well as production and labor costs.

Why Compare Reach vs. Spend?

Comparing reach and spend metrics allows marketers to analyze the efficiency and impact of their advertising campaigns. By evaluating these two factors, you can get a clearer picture of how budget translates into audience scale and exposure. Generally speaking, when your reach expands, your ad spend also increases. 

Here are a few of the main reasons why marketers compare the two KPIs:

  • It helps measure cost efficiency
  • It gauges audience saturation
  • It can identify wasted dollars and optimize media planning

Perhaps the biggest reason to compare reach and spend is to calculate CPM or the cost per thousand impressions. It's calculated by dividing the total campaign cost by the total impressions delivered and multiplying by 1,000. The lower the CPM, the higher the reach for your spend.

Graphic representation of the formula for calculating CPM

Understanding Reach and Spend Across Media Methods

Graphic with icons of advertising mediums

Online Advertising

Reach: Online display ads blanket the expansive digital realm, spanning websites, social media platforms, apps, and streaming services. The capacity to target users based on their online behaviors and interests translates to precise audience segmentation, augmenting the potential to reach the right individuals.

Spend: Online display ads adapt well to various budgets, extending flexibility to businesses of all sizes. Employing a pay-per-click model ensures payment for actual engagement, rendering it a cost-effective choice that delivers quantifiable outcomes.

Social Media Advertising

Reach: Social media has revolutionized how businesses engage with their target audience. With billions of users frequenting various platforms, the reach of social media advertising stands unparalleled. The capability to generate viral content and foster sharing further magnifies this reach.

Spend: Social media advertising accommodates budgets across the spectrum. From amplified posts to comprehensive advertising campaigns, businesses can allocate funds in alignment with their objectives. The detailed analytics offered by platforms empower spending optimization for maximal impact.


Reach: Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising claims its territory as a timeless and unmissable medium. Billboards, transit ads, and signage command attention in physical spaces by engaging audiences during commutes, leisure, and daily routines. The reach of OOH ads extends to places where other mediums might not penetrate.

Spend: Costs for OOH advertising are contingent upon factors like location, size, and campaign duration. While it might require a substantial initial investment, the potential exposure to a wide-ranging audience over time makes it a strategic choice for companies seeking to bolster their brand presence.

Print Media

Reach: Traditional print media, including newspapers and magazines, have a longstanding reputation for delivering a localized and engaged audience. Print media allows brands to tap into specific demographics, capturing the attention of readers who actively seek out content relevant to their interests.

Spend: While the cost of advertising in print media can vary greatly depending on circulation and ad placement, it's important to note that the tangible nature of print provides a level of credibility and trust that digital channels sometimes struggle to replicate.


Reach: Television advertising boasts an unparalleled ability to reach a massive and diverse audience. The visual and auditory nature of television ads leaves a lasting impact, and businesses can effectively tailor their campaigns to different time slots and programs to target specific demographics.

Spend: The cost of television advertising can vary significantly based on factors like prime-time slots, production quality, and the channel's popularity. However, the potential for high engagement and brand exposure remains a strong incentive for businesses to invest in this medium.


Reach: Radio advertising offers a unique way to connect with audiences on the go. Commuters, in particular, represent a captive audience that often tunes in during rush hours. Radio ads can create a personal and memorable connection with listeners with the right message and delivery.

Spend: Radio advertising is often more budget-friendly than other media methods. This affordability, combined with the power of imagination radio triggers, makes it an attractive option for businesses looking to make an impact without breaking the bank.

Maximize Your Marketing Dollars With Leighton MEDIA

Regardless of the advertising method, it’s important to analyze your options and understand what is best for your customer, brand, and products and services. Most companies find that using multiple advertising mediums (if your budget allows) is the best way to reach the most people. 

As experts in broadcast and digital advertising, we can help you find the listeners you want to reach with your brand! Click the link below to start advertising with Leighton Media.

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