"Saturation advertising"referrs to a company's general strategy of flooding a marketplace with ad messages. While this technique can generate wide reach and frequent impressions, it may irritate and alienate customers when taken to the extreme.

Achieving Saturation

For a small business, saturating a local market with brand or product messages isn't as time-consuming or expensive as saturating a national market, according to small-business advertising consultant Jillian Shaw. The key is selecting the right types of media that allow for broad but targeted message reach. Newspapers, radio and direct mail are among the prominent media used by local companies to flood the geographic market with messages.

Shaw advocates a strategy of concentrating on a primary medium and saturating the market with that medium before moving on to the second-highest priority medium. Some companies prefer a concentrated media approach, where messages are delivered simultaneously across several media.

Measuring Saturation

Message weight refers to the overall impact of messages delivered across media during an ad campaign. Message weight typically is measured in gross impressions. For an online ad, the number of page views equal gross impressions. If a campaign achieves 100,000 impressions online, 50,000 through direct mail, 50,000 through radio and 200,000 with billboards during a given month, its total gross impressions were 400,000. The weight of this level of impressions is subjective based on campaign goals, previous campaigns and market size.

High Saturation Pros and Cons

When successful, saturation advertising can generate broad awareness, powerful message recall, favorability and buying activity. The effectiveness of the ads combine with proper media that reaches the target market to affect success.

Companies that advertise on the radio typically maintain ad spots throughout the year, because of the natural inclination for consumers to lose touch with a brand. Since radio has no visual component, "out of sight, out of mind" is a common drawback of pulling radio spots. With poor strategy, companies may end up spending more than they budgeted because of a lack of efficiency in building saturation. Also, aggressive campaigns delivered through media such as direct mail or television may alienate customers. Digital agency Brolik notes that annoying customers can actually turn them against you. Therefore, you have to find the delicate balance between effective saturation and message frustration.