One of the most influential media consultants of the past 30 years has died. Advertising Age reports that media planning guru Erwin Ephron, known as the father of "recency," died Sunday at 79 following a long illness.
"After a long media career that included work at BBDO and his own agency Ephron, Raboy & Tsao, Mr. Ephron formed the consulting firm Ephron Papazian & Ephron in the early 1990s. He was honored by American Demographics Magazine in 2003 as one of the five most- influential media people of the past 25 years," the piece reports.
Ephron was a familiar figure at industry events, including speaking at a number of our own TVWeek Media Planning Conferences.
In 1995 he began putting forward the idea of "recency," making the case that ad impressions closest to the time of purchase are the most powerful. At the time the cornerstones of media planning were reach and frequency — how many people ads reach, and how often those people are reached.
"It followed that reaching consumers at the right time — when they’re in the market to buy — was key, as opposed to simply reaching them often," the Ad Age report says.
Ephron likened frequency to crabgrass, making the point that advertisers were driving people to avoid ads by carelessly inundating the same viewers with the same ads repeatedly.
He was known to poke fun at entire industries, telling Ad Age in 2004: "Looking for advertising effectiveness in package-goods is like the drunk looking for his keys under a lamppost because that’s where the light is."
The report adds: "His point was that researchers have focused on CPG because it has better data to draw on, but the practice can give media generally, particularly TV, a bad rap because the industry’s mature brands deliver less sales impact than other types of products and services can."