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How to Manage Facebook Ad Frequency

Facebook ad frequency has a major impact on the success of your campaigns. But what is it? Why is it so important and how does it affect users? How does it affect your own Facebook campaigns?

In this blog, all these questions will be answered and more.

We’ve all been there, getting frustrated by the number of times an ad just seems to keep popping up on our feeds. Once you’ve been shown the same ad for that car insurance you just really do not need for the sixth time, it’s probably fair to say your relationship with the business will be a little tense.

Not a reaction you want from your target audience, and not one that’s going to encourage the user to buy or become a brand advocate. Facebook ad frequency is an integral part of keeping users interested in your product, so let’s get started with the most sensible question you could have to ask…

What is Facebook Ad Frequency?

ad frequency

Facebook ad frequency is quite simply the number of times your average target audience member has seen your ad. If your ad frequency is reported as 4.0, it means that, on average, your audience members have seen your ad 4 times.

Of course, remember that this is an average. Some of your audience may not have seen your ad even once, whilst some poor soul may have been subjected to it 12 times.

Now, you may not actually have ad frequency appear by default in your ad reports, so you might have to customise your columns so that you can track it. Just click on the ‘Columns’ tab in your ad reporting, and then ‘Customize Columns’.

Then, just tick the box that says ‘Frequency’. Easy.

facebook ad manager customise columns

Now you can easily track how often your target audience sees your ads and manage your Facebook ad frequency effectively.

Why, and When, Does Ad Frequency Matter?

tired and bored woman

If a user sees your ad too often, then the chances are they’re going to stop noticing them, or worse, they’re going to find them annoying.

This leads to ad fatigue, and a drop in the overall performance in your ad.

High ad frequency numbers can be really problematic for your campaigns.

In fact, we have found in the past that an ad frequency as seemingly low as 2.0 can have a really adverse effect on your cost-per-result, or CPR.

Of course, and you absolutely always need to bear this in mind: if your ad is still performing, if your CPR is still nice and low, your ad frequency is irrelevant. It could be sitting at 12.6, but if the ad is still somehow working, if you’re still getting conversions for a low cost despite the fact that your ad is burnt into the retinas of your target audience, then there’s no need to change.

However, if you do see a drop in your ad performance, take a look at ad frequency. If it’s over 2.0, then you can probably do something about your ad. Otherwise, you might find your ad diagnostics metrics dropping, as users relay negative feedback to Facebook about your campaign.

drop in ad clicks

Of course, the timeframe of your campaign does matter here. If your ad has been running for say, 4 months, then really, an ad frequency of 2.0 wouldn’t really be a problem. This is because after 4 months, most users won’t particularly remember the ad they saw, ad fatigue shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Issues set in when you target small audiences with big budgets. Or at the very least, this is when you’ll reach a higher ad frequency more quickly. This is unfortunate when you consider you ideally want to target small, highly relevant audiences to maximise conversions.

And then just to confuse your life even more, when you’re carrying out a brand awareness campaign, where you try to reach a broad audience that aren’t aware of your business, then you have even less leeway for ad fatigue.

Let’s say a user that doesn’t know, and hasn’t had any kind of positive experience with your brand, keeps having your ads pop up on their feed. They’ll very quickly become tired and annoyed with you.

With warmer audiences, they’ll have more tolerance for your ads. You can afford a higher ad frequency for these users, because they recognise you, and hopefully appreciate your service.

Essentially, what we’re saying here is that there is no ‘concrete’ number for an ad frequency that’s too high. It depends on the individual campaign, the audience your targeting, the length of time you’ve been running it.

Wait until you see a drop in performance. When you do, take a look at your ad frequency and determine whether it could induce ad fatigue. If it could be, then you need to manage your ad frequency to bring it down to a more appropriate level.

Managing Ad Frequency

In this next section of the blog, we’re going to run you through some basic ways to keep your ad frequency down, before diving into some more advanced tactics that will ensure people don’t see your ad too many times.

woman fed up of ad fatigue

1.      Keep Your Ad Fresh

You don’t need to give up the offer or the product that you’re advertising in order to defeat that frustrating ad fatigue.

By changing your creative, you can keep an ad fresh to your target audience even if it is, in reality, the same ad campaign. You could change the format of your ad, by replacing an image with a video, or a video with a carousel ad.

The easiest way to keep ad fatigue at bay is by doing just this. Of course, you can change your copy and headline, but your imagery is the first thing a user notices when they are scrolling through their Facebook feed. If they see the same image or video too often, they’ll quickly become tired.

Another way to keep your ads fresh and free from fatigue is to run shorter campaigns. Now, although this is a really effective way of avoiding ad fatigue, you would be forgiven for wanting to keep a successful campaign running.

But, of course, there’s no need to worry about this. As long as your campaign is performing, there’s no need to cut it short or set up short campaigns. Remember, it’s only when your campaign performance takes a dramatic downturn that you need to look at managing your ad frequency.

Running short campaigns offers just one potential route to keeping your campaigns fresh to your target audience.

You could also try changing up your targeting. If you’re especially keen on your ad creative, and you’ve been heavily targeting a particular group, try changing it up.

Now, this doesn’t mean targeting a completely different, potentially irrelevant new audience. This is where the concept of a lookalike audience becomes so useful. The reason for this is that a lookalike audience have extremely similar attributes to your original audience, but they haven’t seen your ad yet.

2.      Budget Intelligently

With this tactic, the key thing to remember is to ensure your budget is in keeping with your audience size. At Filed, a mistake we see made far too often by many marketers is piling a huge budget at a campaign that only targets a very narrow audience.

To help you understand why this is an error, let us present you with an example.

Let’s say you released an ad for your record shop, targeting an audience of 10,000 people. The first thing you need to be aware of is that this ad will only reach somewhere between 1000 and 2500 of those people, as Facebook only shows your ad to 10-25% of your target audience when optimizing for an action.

Let’s imagine that, in this example, it costs you $10 per 1000 impressions. Pretty cheap, but anyway, if you spent $10 per day, you’d be looking at 1000 impressions in a single day. Remember, your ad might only be reaching 1000 people per day so by day 7 of your campaign, your ad frequency could be standing at 7.0.

Although this is a pretty loose example, I’m sure you can see where you run into problems. A small enough audience and a big budget generally leads to a fast-growing ad frequency.

Carefully consider how many people you will reach, and how often you’ll reach them, with the budget and audience size you have in mind.

3.      Make Use of Frequency Capping

Facebook, being the unbelievably helpful marketing tool that it is, actually helps you cap frequency. That is, you can tell Facebook not to show your ads more than the amount you specify.

You used to be able to do this by simply selecting a ‘Reach and Frequency’ option in the objective stage of your ad creation process. These days however, Facebook ensures you choose ‘Auction’ by default.

Now, start by choosing the campaign objective ‘Awareness’, ‘Reach’.

awareness reach facebook objective

Then, on the ‘Budget & Schedule’ stage of the ad creation process, you can set a frequency cap.

For example, you may choose to allow users to see your ad 3 times every 30 days that your campaign is running.

schedule ad frequency

Otherwise, you can use the ‘Daily Unique Reach’ option, which is available to use under a fair few objectives. For example, if you are optimised for conversions, you can click on the ‘Optimization for Ad Delivery’ dropdown, hover over ‘Other Options’, then select ‘Daily Unique Reach’.

daily unique reach facebook ads

Now, whilst this will ensure that Facebook will only deliver ads to users once per day or less, Facebook will not optimise for a specific action, which may lead to poorer results. If you are trying to optimise for an action such as conversions or app installs, then this may not be your best option.

The same goes for making use of the frequency cap you can make use of when choosing ‘Reach’ as your main objective, but as reach is your objective in this case, then that will likely be no issue.

4.      Utilise Exclusions

If you have a really high ad frequency and a poorly performing campaign, the odds are you’re targeting people who just don’t need to be targeted.

This is a really common mistake that social media marketers make all the time, so if you’re guilty of it, don’t worry! However, you don’t want to target to these unfortunately useless Facebook users. If someone has already bought what you’re selling, you’re wasting money paying for them to see your ad.

You can address this when you are creating the audience you want to target. Let’s imagine you’re starting a campaign to get users to sign up or register with your business.

You can easily exclude all the users who have visited the ‘Thank You’ page by typing the URL of your thank you page in the ‘Exclude People’ section of your ‘Website Traffic Custom Audience’ – provided you have set up your Facebook Pixel.

exclude people from facebook ads

This way, no user who has already registered with your business will see your ad for signing up, and you will find that ad fatigue becomes far less of an issue.

Final Thoughts

The last thing you want is to waste money on a campaign that doesn’t deliver as hoped, or worse, actually turns people off your business.

But by making use of these tips and tactics, you can ensure your ad frequency, the culprit for so many underperforming campaigns, is kept nice and low. Just remember to freshen up your ads every now and then, use your budget wisely without getting carried away, make use of exclusions where necessary and if you absolutely have to, exploit frequency capping.

If you marry these concepts in the right way, you’re on the right path to delivering a quality campaign.

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