Burst Drip Pulse: How to plan phased television advertising campaigns

television advertising campaigns

When considering buying a television campaign, it’s important to consider how you plan to ‘phase’ out the campaign. To phase in advertising is to plan how many TVRs (television ratings) you buy and how you distribute them across the weeks in a year. The three most commonly used methods for TV ad planning are burst, drip, and pulse.


If you want to reach a large number of people, irrespective of the target audience, burst is the method for you. The approach of burst involves a great surge of TVRs in a relatively short space of time. For example, during a burst campaign, a 400 TVR purchase would probably be split over a month, with a 100-per-week TVR output.

The burst strategy suits new and seasonal products particularly well, with frequency coupling well with curiosity (new product) and timeliness (seasonal product). Many companies often start out using a burst strategy in the opening weeks and months of a campaign before transferring to a drip campaign to retain presence throughout the first year.


The drip strategy, as the title suggests, stretches your advertising coverage over a longer period. Unlike the burst’s strategy of intense flooding, the drip strategy aims to build coverage over a long period of time with a slow burn effect. The benefit of this strategy is that your advertisement will be on television for as long as you desire. For example, a 400 TVR purchase would be most likely divided up into a 50 TVRs-per-week, lasting twice as long as a burst strategy.

The drip strategy often suits brands with no seasonal peak such as supermarkets or low-interest brands such as insurance companies. Many companies that adopt the drip strategy operate at a fairly low output of 50-110 TVRs per week, but crucially their advertising campaign will be present on the airwaves throughout the year. That consistent presence ensures that both active and inactive consumers are aware of the brand so that when they do need their services, the chance of being reminded of the brand is extremely high.


Especially if it is particularly effective and memorable, an advert will remain long in the memory of those that have seen it. So if your company has a fairly modest budget but want to remain on the air as long as possible, the pulse strategy might be the best option.

The pulse strategy tends to adopt a ‘week on, week off’ output, so if you were to purchase 400 TVRs, they would be divided into 100 TVRs, utilised every other week for eight weeks. However, it is important to determine a target audience for this strategy to work at its full potential as well as how often and what percentage of that audience need to see the advert for it to be effective. By calculating your coverage and frequency, you’ll be able to work out the ideal number of TVRs to purchase for this strategy to work well.

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