Red Flags: Ad Frequency

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Why is it important?

Ad frequency is a useful metric which measures how many ads an average user sees in the specified time frame. 

It’s calculated as the ratio between total impressions (how many ads were displayed in total) and reach (how many people saw at least one ad). It’s difficult to answer what the “correct” value of frequency should be, and businesses with stable, sustainable results should not dwell too much of the value of ad frequency, but it’s nevertheless important to keep tab on the value of frequency because too high a value can have both short-term and long-term negative effects:

  • Short-term: ad fatigue. High frequency means that users see the same ads over and over, and they will stop reacting to them.
  • Long-term: high frequency is an indicator that too much is being invested in remarketing, and not enough in acquisition of new customers/leads, which could have negative results in the future. Remember: investing in acquisition now builds remarketing audiences for later.

What if the test fails?

The account will fail the test if an average user sees too many ads. In that case, the next steps are highly dependent on the context. 

For example, if ad frequency is very high, but the overall results are not good enough, that might be a sign that either the audience is wrong for ads and targeting should be changed, or that the copy/visual is not engaging enough, in which case new ad text or image/video could be the solution.

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