Uncovering Your Effective Frequency for Advertising Campaigns

4 min read

When it comes to the frequency of marketing outreach, more isn’t always better.

While it’s common knowledge that a consumer may need to see an ad multiple times before they take action, we can all think of an advertisement we’ve seen a little too often. Whether it is a certain charitable jingle on your car radio or a recurring insurance ad on seemingly every YouTube video, anyone can run the risk of overloading their target audience with a message.

Marketers need to strike the right balance of outreach to their audience – and that’s why effective frequency is so important.

See where you may be coming up short in your marketing attribution strategy.

What is Effective Frequency in Advertising?

Effective frequency refers to how many ad exposures a consumer needs to see within a certain time frame to take an intended action. This intended action could be related to any marketing KPI – such as sales, newsletters sign ups, or an increase in brand equity. This makes effective frequency a fundamental consideration in every marketing campaign.


Why is it Important to Measure Advertising Frequency?

Finding your effective frequency is just as important as choosing the right audience, crafting impactful content, or choosing the right media mix. If you show an advertisement infrequently, then customers are unlikely to even remember your ad – lowering your overall marketing impact. If you show an advertisement too frequently, then you may upset and annoy potential customers – damaging your brand equity.

So, while underspending results in poor overall impact, you can’t overspend “just to be safe.” It could hurt your business in the long run.

Despite effective frequency being so central to a successful campaign, it’s often overlooked due to how difficult it is to measure. There’s no hard-and-fast rule to determine effective frequency, and even previous campaign data will only get you so far. For that reason, marketers must assess advertising frequency for each campaign separately.

How to Calculate and Optimize Effective Frequency

Advertising frequency is clearly important – but measuring it is challenging. Many marketers rely on an approximate rule of thumb: A customer should see an advertisement three times per purchase cycle. This sounds fine on paper, but in practice, this assumption quickly falls apart.

For example: The average American buys a car every six years. Would it be wise for Honda to only show you a commercial once every 2 years? Of course not.

The reason “three impressions per purchase cycle” simply doesn’t work is because effective frequency depends on many factors. For example: Which media channels do you plan to use? What other touchpoints are in the campaign? How is the target market responding to the ad?

Here’s a small sample of what you’ll need to consider:

  • Average purchase cycle – If you’re promoting a product or service that consumers purchase every few weeks, you’ll need to promote it often. If your purchase cycle is longer, like a car, then you can show your ads more intermittently.
  • Size of Addressable Market – If you’re targeting outreach to a small audience, they will experience ad fatigue faster than a large audience. This is due to the simple fact you can reach almost everyone in a small audience much faster.
    Brand equity – If your brand is already a household name, you can buy ad space less frequently.
  • Distinctness – If your ad is a bit bold and experimental, promote it a little less often. If your ad is simple, show it more often to make sure it sticks.
  • Reception – If your target market likes the ad, feel free to experiment with a higher frequency. If consumers aren’t taking the desired action, you may want to retire the ad.
  • Campaign duration – If you’re running a long-term campaign, use frequency wisely. The same message can get stale after a few months if it’s overused.
  • Channel spread – Watch your ad frequency closely if you’re running an omnichannel marketing campaign. Consumers will see your ad – or a similar ad – across many different channels. If you’re not deliberate in your ad placements, they can experience ad fatigue quickly.

That’s a lot of factors to consider – and this is by no means an exhaustive list. For that reason, optimizing your advertising frequency will likely require a bit of help from a marketing performance measurement solution.

Ideally, you should find a solution that can ingest all of your marketing campaign data to help you understand how specific audience segments are responding to your ad. From there, it should be able to compare those reactions to your average purchase cycle, existing brand equity, and similar touchpoints in a campaign. Finally, having the ability to leverage predictive analytics will help you uncover exactly how often you should show an ad to optimize your advertising effectiveness.

Final Thoughts

Showing your advertisements at an optimal frequency is crucial to a successful marketing campaign. However, it’s not easy to find an effective advertising frequency, especially if you’re running an omnichannel campaign – and this is a major pain point for organizations that want to maximize their revenue and brand equity.

Thankfully, Marketing Evolution has a solution. Through our brand to behavior linkage and long-range planning capabilities, our cutting-edge platform provides clear recommendations to optimize your marketing spend across both online and offline channels. In the end, this will help you make the most of every dollar while contributing to a positive brand image.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo with one of our solution experts today.

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