There are a lot of intricate data points to be considered when running a digital marketing or advertising campaign including the most familiar terms like target audience and budget. However, two key components to also keep an eye on are:
- Reach: the possible number of people who will see your ads based on qualifiers (email list, detailed targeting, etc.)
- Frequency: the number of times people who are being served your ads have seen them
These metrics are not new concepts in marketing and advertising. What has changed, however, is the number of channels now available specifically thanks to the world of digital marketing. And because each of these channels are so unique, they all come with their own set of rules on how to reach the right people and maintain the right ad frequency for optimal performance.
So, what do these data components tell us? Is there an ideal frequency number? Is the expected reach number a guaranteed metric? The answers are not as black and white as you might think- or wish, rather. Let’s take a look at some factors that can help you determine what your reach and frequency data points are really saying when running a digital marketing campaign.
Which is more important for digital marketing: reach or frequency?
Reach and frequency really work together like a team and aren’t metrics that need to be pitted against each other. So, neither is more important than the other. What will ultimately marry these metrics are other factors like campaign budget, campaign length, and detailed targeting, which will all help to present a more realistic reach and ad frequency.
Marketing studies have found that it can take three or more exposures to an ad before the message kicks in and an action begins. That action can be as small as just clicking on a digital ad or researching the brand through an organic search. With this in mind, it doesn’t seem plausible that spending money on a short-lived campaign with vague targeting resulting in maybe 10,000 people seeing your ad just once will result in much of anything. A better use of your budget would be to serve your ads to an audience of a more targeted 2,000 people over a longer period of time in the hopes of those ads being served much more often to the most engaged audience members – a reach tactic we’ll get into later on in this blog.
Even in a brand awareness situation where your ad purely exists to introduce a message to an audience without specific call to action, serving those ads more frequently to a more qualified audience will ensure your brand is top of mind when it’s time for a buying decision.
Remember, digital marketing is much different from more traditional marketing media like newspapers or magazines where you spend x amount of money to be featured in a set number of issues or mailers, etc. Digital marketing entails algorithms and optimizations throughout the length of a campaign based on relevance, how many people are on the platform where your ads are being served at a given time, and lots of other tiny behind-the-scenes details. These details make digital ads very fruitful, but also need a lot of attention throughout their life to ensure their success.
Focusing on ad frequency to improve a marketing campaign performance
So based on the information above, the magical frequency number is somewhere around three, right? Wrong – unfortunately, that answer isn’t black and white either, other than to say that there is no magic number. There are several data points to consider when thinking about the ideal ad frequency including metrics such as click through rate and cost per conversion, aka success metrics.
Let’s take Facebook Ads, for example. With the right tracking pixels in place, you can monitor your ad frequency on a daily basis and see trends over time from the analytics dashboard in Facebook. If you notice that the frequency is getting to five or six, meaning that a person within your audience has now been served that Facebook ad five or six times, you might be concerned that the ad is getting worn out. To really determine this, though, you have to take a look at whether the overall campaign is still profitable and/or successful based on the click through rate and cost per conversion standards you’ve set for success. If it is successful, it doesn’t really matter what the frequency number is. Once you can sense the overall trend of your ad’s data and determine when the ad starts to be less efficient, you can begin to draw some conclusions on where your ideal ad frequency is for a particular message, audience, or budget.
All marketing and advertising campaigns are an investment in data, a learning process. Successful marketers take as much data as they can and to help shape the next ad they run. And when it comes to ad frequency, you have to let your data do the talking before making any conclusions on what that magical number is.
Should brands cap ad frequency rates or limit reach on digital marketing campaigns?
Limiting an ad’s reach will naturally happen based on the detailed targeting options set such as location, gender, or age range. On certain digital channels, detailed targeting can also include behaviors and interests of those within your potential reach, such as a person’s likelihood to click on an ad or what kind of TV shows they like. With these details in mind, you can actually narrow your campaign reach so that it’s broad enough that a lot of people potentially see your ad, but specific enough that the right people see your ad. Platforms such as Facebook do offer the option to serve ads outside of these detailed parameters, just in case it allows for a better success rate throughout the campaign. And although a reach is established before your ad launches, most platforms allow for the detailed targeting to be altered during a campaign in order to test different audiences.
If brands are interested in capping their ad frequency rates to ensure their messaging doesn’t lose its efficacy, it is possible to do it. Facebook ads, streaming radio, and even TV ads to some extent have capabilities of monitoring and capping this rate, but what’s important to realize is that with several digital marketing channels, the audience has some control on whether or not they keep seeing your ad. This is not an option with TV ads. Think about your own viewing habits. If you’re watching a show and an ad comes on that you’re not interested in, sure, you can change the channel, but you’re probably not going to. With social media ads on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc., users can opt out of seeing ads they don’t want to see anymore. They can also report ads that seem like spam, are uninteresting, or are offensive to them. This is a great example of why you want to keep an eye on your ad frequency as to not overserve but to also not dilute that ad to the point where it’s not going to be a return on your investment.
All of this information really only scratches the surface of the many nuances in digital marketing campaigns. But, hey, no one said advertising in today’s age was simple. And if they have, they’re not being honest. Most often, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer with any digital marketing campaign. To really win with your advertising efforts, remember that all data is valuable and there’s always something you can learn and implement in your next campaign.
Located in downtown Lancaster, PA, Taylor Brand Group offers a wide range of services such as rebranding, internal branding, brand development, brand awareness campaigns, and brand research in addition to work dedicated to digital marketing and traditional advertising. As a branding agency, we help businesses with advertising and marketing while focusing on brand integrity first. If you’re searching for an agency that can help to improve your brand through trusted strategies, creative design, unique messaging tactics, and informed marketing, Taylor Brand Group can help. To learn more about the services we offer and how to take your brand awareness to the next level, contact us today.