Why Optimal Frequency is Key

Why Optimal Frequency is Key

By Anna Parmelee • March 23, 2016

When monitoring the performance of a brand’s ads, most marketers focus on “the classics”: click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate (CR), or cost per action (CPA). However, here at Ampush we take things to a, deeper, more insight-filled level by also monitoring an often overlooked performance metric: Frequency. We’ve found that hitting the right Facebook ad frequency is a very important lever to improve a campaign’s performance and return on ad spend (ROAS).

What is Frequency?

Simply put, Frequency is the average number of times a user sees your ad. It is found by dividing impressions, which is the overall number of times your ad was displayed, by reach, which is the number of unique people who have seen your ad.

Frequency =   Impressions
   ………………….  Reach

It’s important to note that Frequency is the average, meaning that the exact number of times any one users sees your ad varies from person to person. Once you have a large enough reach, these differences become insignificant.

Why We Care About Frequency

Over the years, and across campaigns in many different verticals, we’ve noted that a certain degree of Frequency correlates to, if not directly causes, improvements in CTR and decreases in CPC (and ultimately CPA). However too low or too high of Frequency can cause just the opposite: low CTR and increased costs.

Showing an ad too few times will fail to leave a lasting impression – the ad will be easy to miss and forget. Conversely, should a user see the ad too many times, the high frequency rate can have an adverse effect by attracting negative comments or feedback which lowers your ad’s Relevance Score (see how that impacts your spending efficiency). As your Facebook ad Frequency rises, it also becomes increasingly less likely that a user will click on the ad.

From doing deep dives into our partners’ in-house campaigns, and from our own tests, we’ve noted that low CTRs usually result in inefficient bidding and higher costs to reach the target audience.

We also use Frequency rates to optimize our partners’ creative refreshes. While CTRs may dip due to daily fluctuations, combining a significant dip in CTR with the observation that Frequency has surpassed 5 allows Ampush analysts to more confidently conclude that it’s time for a creative refresh.

How Can Facebook Ad Frequency Impact Campaigns?

We typically structure our partners’ campaigns to have several phases, variants, or sequences to increase the total exposure without driving up the Frequency of any single ad set. We test numerous variables (color, spokesperson, messaging angle, etc) to see which drive the strongest performance. We then work with our in-house Design Team to create new iterations of the top performing ads, focusing on those variables. By doing this, you can hit users with unique messaging and avoid making them feel like they’re being hit over the head with the same ad repeatedly.

We also monitor each partner campaign closely for slight changes in CTR and Frequency to ensure maximum efficiency of spend. For most of our top tier brands we see that a Facebook ad Frequency range of 3-5 yields the best performance. We typically plan creative refreshes to go live after the 6 or 7 mark. This formula results in better ROAS, more conversions per campaign, and happier partners.

We recently conducted extensive testing on mobile app install campaigns (MAI) and found that videos have the longest shelf life on Facebook. We relaunch videos for our partners every 1-1.5 weeks and relaunch (or refresh) static images ever 4-6 to maintain high performance CTR. We also found that Cinemagraphs have the shortest shelf life before CTR becomes suboptimal, while Carousel Ads have the longest (after video).

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we drive performance for top tier brands!