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Marketing | May 12
Jessica Greene on July 29, 2020 (last modified on April 29, 2021) • 16 minute read
Try watching any sports game on network TV. Unless it’s the Super Bowl, you’re likely to see the same commercial over and over again throughout the broadcast.
But think about the last time you saw the same commercial for the tenth time in two hours. It’s not an endearing experience. In fact, it’s annoying. If you could tell your TV to stop showing you that commercial, you probably would.
That’s exactly why a high ad frequency on Facebook isn’t necessarily a good thing. Facebook ads are interactive. People can hide ads they don’t want to see any more. And when that happens, Facebook starts showing your ad to fewer people.
So managing your ad frequency is an important part of ensuring your Facebook ads get maximum exposure.
To learn more about Facebook ad frequency, we surveyed 28 marketers to gather their thoughts on things like the ideal number of times for one person to see your Facebook ad and tactics for keeping your ad frequency low.
We’ll get into what we learned, but first…
Simply put, frequency is the average number of times each person sees your ad in their newsfeed. Although it is an estimated metric, it is useful for understanding both your reach as well as the overall relevance of your ad campaigns.
For the most part, our respondents feel like ad frequency is an important metric to track. 69% pay either some or a lot of attention to their frequency metrics on Facebook:
And most feel like ad frequency is important to the overall success of their Facebook ad campaigns:
So why is ad frequency an important metric to measure?
One reason is that your relevance score is crucial to the performance of your Facebook ads. As Rajat Chauhan of Techtic Solutions explains: “When people engage with your ad, your relevance score goes up. And if your relevance score is high, your ad is more likely to be served than other ads targeting the same audience.”
But when people see your ad over and over again and don’t act on it, your relevance score declines.
“During a campaign, it’s important to keep your frequency low enough that it doesn’t start to offset your relevance score,” says Colibri Digital Marketing’s Andrew McLoughlin. “It’s more effective to have fewer, better impressions than to spam too many.”
“The Facebook ad frequency figure can tell you a lot about your ad’s performance,” explains Daryl Burrows of Six & Flow.
“If your frequency is north of five from the outset of a campaign, this would suggest that either your targeted audience is wrong and the core message isn’t resonating or that your audience is too small and the same people are seeing the ad. Plus, as your frequency climbs, your CPA will naturally increase,” Burrows says.
AdEspresso’s Tory Wenger offers some data to back that up: “We analyzed over 500 campaigns and found that ads with a frequency of nine had a CPC that was 161.7% more expensive than ads with a frequency of one.”
So what’s the idea ad frequency for a Facebook ad campaign? We polled a few dozen Facebook marketing professionals and two-thirds of respondents say 3-8 times is the sweet spot.
If you’re currently serving your ads to the same people many more times than recommended, there’s no need to worry. Our respondents offered 15 tips you can start taking advantage of immediately to lower the number of times your target audience is seeing your Facebook ads.
The simplest way to ensure your frequency doesn’t get too high is to set up frequency rules when creating your campaigns.
“I set up a rule to stop showing the ad when the frequency hits two,” says James Pollard of The Advisor Coach. “In almost every ad I’ve ever run, costs begin to creep up once the frequency hits two.”
“My thinking is: if someone hasn’t clicked your ad after being shown it multiple times, will they click it if you keep showing it? I don’t think so, which is why I would much rather turn off the ad and create a new one,” Pollard says.
But if you don’t want to turn your ads completely off, RUNNER Agency’s Brad Ehney says you can also “set up rules to notify you when your ad hits the frequency you’re looking to achieve.” That way, you can review the ad’s performance and make a decision as to whether to turn it off or not.
Or you can manage your frequency by taking the advice of Growth Hackers’ Jonathan Aufray and “select a frequency of one per day. Unfortunately, there’s no magic button you can just click to say ‘show this ad a maximum of # times to the same person.’”
Anastasia Sul’zhyk of SmartyAds recommends a similar approach to Aufray but says to “limit the number of time people see the ad to once every seven days.”
Editor’s note: If you want a quick way to view your ad frequency and monitor your overall Facebook ad campaign performance, download this free Facebook Ads Campaign Performance dashboard to see all of your most important metrics in one centralized view.
Websavvy’s Trevor Henselwood says that “the best tactic for managing frequency is understanding the relationship between the targeted audience and your brand or business. That relationship lets you know how hard you can push or if you need to have a more delicate touch.”
“For colder audiences, go hard. For an email list of past purchasers, you might want to reduce budgets and keep the messages relevant to their needs.”
“Frequency is all about understanding who needs to see what.”
“As prospects choose to discover more about your offering, you need to meet them where they are with a message that helps them be more of who they are.”
“You can easily do this by using the Facebook Pixel and custom audiences from Facebook engagement to provide potential clients exactly what they need,” Uhlir says.
Zach Greenberger of adMixt recommends a similar approach: “The best way to avoid flooding your customers with ads is to exclude site visitors and purchasers using website custom audiences. Target those users separately with smaller budgets to effectively message each stage of your funnel.”
“One of the most common frequency mistakes is targeting people who have already accomplished your campaign’s goal,” says Andreea Popa of Search Scientists. “Make sure to exclude people who no longer need to receive that particular message.”
“For example, if you’re advertising a content promotion with the goal of reaching new readers, exclude people who have already visited your website or blog. If you’re advertising a bottom-of-the-funnel message with the goal of converting people, exclude people who have already bought from you.”
“In reality, a potential customer shouldn’t be seeing the same advertisement more than twice,” says Lightbulb Media’s Lewis Kemp.
“If they’ve engaged with the ad already, then you should be showing them the next step in the customer journey. If they haven’t, you need to split test your creative and copy until they do. If they still aren’t engaging after that, you’re targeting the wrong people.”
“Whenever I run Facebook ads, I use lead scoring and tools like ActiveCampaign to segment my audience and identify who is worth doubling down on with ad spend,” says Empathy First Media’s Daniel Lynch.
“If you can identify people who have come to your website multiple times but haven’t converted, you should keep hammering them with ads until you have them on the phone to determine if they are sales-qualified,” Lynch says.
“Using this tactic tends to create more focused and receptive audiences that increase click rate while keeping frequency in that 2-3 view sweet spot,” Resnick says.
Aleeha Krupa of Go Grow Strategies recommends using geotargeting: “When boosting a post, set your range to target people in the surrounding area.”
And Shreyash Mishra of Shrex Design recommends nano-targeting: “We often target hyperlocal markets for our campaigns. It creates a personalized touch in our ads.”
“One effective tactic for managing your Facebook ad frequency is the placement of your ad,” says Andrew Ruditser of MAXBURST. “It’s important that your ad is shown in a spot where it is noticeable but not an annoyance to the user.”
“If your ad is shown in the middle of a user’s news feed, then it might get a negative response. These ads tend to annoy the user as it interferes with scrolling.”
“Showing your ad on the side will get a more positive response. This is because the user can still notice the ad and respond if interested, but it will not interfere with the user’s routine.”
Expertsure’s Ollie Smith says it’s “a great idea is to run short campaigns to a select group of people. I learned that running shorter campaigns enables me to manage frequency better and almost completely mitigate my frequency issues.”
“Your ad needs to be memorable, whether it be by the imagery/video used or something notable in the copy of the ad,” says Aston Social’s Ellen Roumeliotis. “If your ad is memorable, you can get away with a reduced frequency.”
“Avoid running the same ad for more than one week. It will run dry otherwise,” Roumeliotis says.
Clarity Coverdale Fury’s Andy Brunn says the best way to manage your ad frequency is to “budget effectively based on audience universe size, effective frequency, and duration.”
Max Reinhardt of Beacons Point recommends “manipulating your budget to ensure prospecting campaigns are not reaching a frequency over two and retargeting campaigns are not over 7-8.”
“The only surefire way to cap ad frequency in Facebook is to run a Daily Unique Reach campaign, which is the only campaign type that allows you to directly control frequency,” says Bright Oak’s Nery Solano.
“Matching budget to audience size is the second best way to control ad frequency. You don’t want to target 500 people with $100 per-day budget because you will oversaturate your audience,” Solano says.
Editor’s note: Monitor your ad spend and see which of your ads are most popular—alongside other key Facebook ad KPIs—by downloading this free Audience Building & Brand Awareness dashboard.
“Utilizing the new campaign budget optimization feature is a great way to manage ad frequency,” says Jeromy Sonne of Moonshine Marketing. “With this tool, you can manage your budget at the ad set level and run multiple non-overlapping audiences in the same campaign.”
“As Facebook will move your budget around to the different ad sets/audiences based on performance, it’s almost a built-in way to keep audiences fatigue from becoming a problem. I was able to utilize this feature for a large law firm to drive leads for 84% less than the industry average.”
“If you have just one ad in place, more people will see that same ad more often, which will result in lower click rates and conversions and higher CPM costs,” says A1 Future Technologies’ Srish Agrawal. “By running a wide range of ad copy and campaigns, you should be able to better manage your Facebook Ad frequency.”
Yvonne Hall of HIVE Digital Strategy agrees: “By monitoring your Facebook ad campaigns frequently, you will begin to see which ad variations are working and which ads people are seeing too frequently. Then, you can adjust and create similar or new ads in order to stay fresh while reaching your target market.”
“Creating a campaign and just sticking with your original ads throughout the campaign will likely result in the same people seeing your ads too frequently and not engaging with them. People will start to tune your ads out if you don’t keep them fresh,” Hall says.
If you don’t want to create multiple ads, Jess Riches of Enriches Business recommends using dynamic creatives.
“The trick to managing frequency is to manage the campaign at the creative level. If you’re serving ads to the right audience, seeing your business name over and over is not an issue. But seeing the same creative over and over can be.”
“Swap the creative, use dynamic creative, and play with headlines and copy. Test short over long form, and replace brightly colored ads for black and white with sharp contrast. Keep them entertained and engaged with you.”
“A common frequency issue arises with retargeting campaigns,” says AdEspresso’s Paul Fairbrother. “It’s very common to see advertisers put all their warm audiences into the same campaign and show the same ads over and over.”
“Thankfully, we can use evergreen retargeting techniques to prevent this problem. If you’re not familiar with the term ‘evergreen,’ it means something fresh and new for the audience’s eyes—which is our goal here.”
“The main benefit of this setup is that the audience will dynamically update and move through a sequence of different campaigns, ensuring they will see new ads over time. Not only that, but you can even leave this sequence on for months or even years, with some tiny maintenance touches from time to time.”
According to Facebook, Frequency caps are limits on how often ads can be shown to a person.
A frequency cap allows you to adjust the number of times, on average, a person will be shown your ad within a set period of time.
You can lower your frequency cap if you wish to show your ads less frequently to your target audience while also reaching more people, while at other times, a higher frequency might be desirable if you want to build your brand awareness.
You can set your frequency caps in a few simple steps.
Step 1: Select the daily unique reach bidding
Daily unique reach allows you to deliver your ads to your audience once per day.
To do so, click on campaigns, then create.
Then, select the objective of your campaign.
Next, navigate optimization for ad delivery to other options to daily unique reach.
Step 2: Create an automated rule.
This is another way to regulate the frequency of your ad campaign.
To create a rule:
Next, you select the option depending on your preference (If you want the rule to apply to all campaigns or a specific campaign)
In the conditions section, you can then decide how often you want your ad(s) to be shown to your target audience and for how long this rule should be applied.
To track the number of actions taken on your ad during a particular time period you can readjust the settings for views and clicks on the attribution window.
Also, adjust the schedule of this rule as you’d like.
Facebook relevance score estimates how relevant your ad is to your target audience. It assesses how well your ad resonates with your audience on a scale of 1-10. With 10 being the highest possible score and one being the least.
However, in March 2019, Facebook announced it was replacing this metric with three new metrics:
Facebook Quality Ranking measures the quality of your ad in comparison to ads competing for the same audience
This metric measures your ad’s expected engagement rate in comparison to other ads competing for the same audience.
This metric measures the expected conversion rate of your ad in comparison to other ads with the same optimization goal and competing for the same audience.
When running an ad campaign it is important to note that if your ad gets seen by your target audience too often there is the likelihood that they’d get bored of your ads, which in return will lead to ad fatigue and a decrease in your relevance score.
Thus, it is important to update and rotate your ad while targeting your set audience so as to avoid showing them the same ad too many times or harming the success of your campaign.
The most important thing to avoid to prevent a too-high ad frequency is taking a set-it-and-forget-it approach. If you never take the time to monitor your frequency and you never refresh your ads or your audience, a high frequency is inevitable.
As Social Factor’s Claudia Lopez says, “The best approach to managing Facebook ad frequency is staying ahead of your ads and planning accordingly.”
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