Editor’s note: This is a guest contribution by Rae Steinbach from Taktical Digital
When leveraged properly, Facebook ads can deliver a substantial return-on-investment. That doesn’t mean they always meet your expectations. There are many reasons a campaign might not yield the results you aimed for. That said, when planning a Facebook campaign, a potential issue that’s often overlooked is your ad frequency.
While it is important to analyze key metrics, such as cost-per-click or cost-per-conversion, those metrics don’t provide you with all of the information you may need to determine if the frequency at which your ads are being displayed is getting in the way of your success. Quite simply, those metrics can certainly tell you if a campaign isn’t performing well, but they won’t necessarily explain why it’s not performing well. That’s a key reason to also pay attention to ad frequency.
Why Ad Frequency is Important
The degree to which ad frequency affects your campaigns will depend at least in part on the types of ads you’re running. For instance, perhaps you’re posting a basic ad that promotes a product. If users who already bought that product after seeing the ad (or saw the ad and decided they weren’t interested) sign into Facebook and see the ad again, it’s essentially useless to you. When users who no longer represent value continue to see the same ads multiple times, your ROI will be less than optimal.
To better understand ad frequency, it helps to break the topic down into its core components:
- Impressions: How many times (a specific number) an ad was displayed.
- Reach: The number of unique users your ad reached.
- Frequency: The average number of times your ad was displayed to each user who saw it.
It’s important to understand that Facebook provides an average for the Frequency metric because, well, there’s no way to calculate the exact total, as it will vary from one user to another. In other words, not everyone who saw one of your ads will necessarily see it the same number of times. One user may see an ad four times while another might only see it once.
The Science of Ad Frequency & User Response
To truly appreciate why ad frequency matters, it helps to look into the science of how people respond to ads (and content in general) online. Essentially, the brain has a filtering mechanism that ensures we only focus on the stimuli that are important to us in the moment. This prevents other stimuli from distracting us. For instance, maybe you live in a nice neighborhood, with gorgeous views greeting you every time you drive to work. If your brain actively noticed and paid attention to these views every single time you saw them, you wouldn’t be able to focus on the road. That’s dangerous for obvious reasons.
The same principle applies to online ads. An ad that’s seen once or twice may catch a user’s attention. The novelty of the ad tells a user’s brain they should notice it. However, once a user has absorbed the information and decided it’s not relevant to them, they’ll genuinely stop noticing it the next time they see the ad in their feed.
You should also know that consumers report disliking excessive ad frequency. You’re not going to make the right impression on potential customers if you’re constantly displaying the same ads. You’re far more likely to simply irritate them, assuming they even notice your ads at all.
Of course, knowing that ad frequency matters is just one step. What’s perhaps more important is knowing how to manage your ad frequency.
Facebook does help you in this capacity to a degree. With Facebook’s ad frequency cap, you can adjust the average number of times an ad will be displayed to a user within an established timeframe.
That doesn’t mean the ad frequency cap feature is enough to truly manage how often users see your content. Audience size will have an effect that’s unavoidable. For instance, if you have an audience of 20 users, it’s relatively likely the same users will see your ads multiple times (assuming they are displayed multiple times). If you had an audience of 20,000 users, on the other hand, your ads would be less likely to reach the same people every single time they are displayed.
Luckily, it is possible to manage ad frequency to a greater degree than you could if you relied solely on Facebook’s ad frequency cap feature. To do so, follow these key instructions:
Managing Ad Frequency with Custom Audiences
You probably already know that Facebook allows marketers to create Custom Audiences for their campaigns. This ensures ads are displayed to users who are most likely to find them relevant.
This feature also makes it easier to manage how frequently your ads are displayed to the same users. It’s also fairly easy to take advantage of. All you have to do is create multiple audiences and multiple offers/ads.
For instance, you might create three different ads: one promoting a product in general, one promoting a discount, and one promoting your blog.
(Those are just examples. Your ads should be tailored to your goals.)
You would then create three separate audiences: one consisting of your Facebook followers, one consisting of recent website visitors (you can use the Facebook pixel to generate this audience), and a Lookalike Audience from one of those other two. Again, these are just examples.
You would then run your ads cyclically. For a brief period of time, display the first ad to the first audience, the second ad to the second audience, and the third ad to the third audience. After your chosen period of time has elapsed, you would display the first ad to the second audience, the second ad to the third audience, the third ad to the first audience, and so on, until all audiences have had a chance to see all ads.
Creating multiple types of ads also helps you bypass the brain’s filtering mechanism. A new ad will catch the brain’s attention, making it more likely that users will consistently notice your brand. Even if they don’t click on your ads right away, this strategy can help you boost brand awareness among Facebook users.
All that said, it’s always important to continue monitoring your campaign performance. This guide will help you manage your Facebook ad frequency. Monitoring campaign performance is key to knowing whether you’re applying the tips here effectively.
About the author
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).
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