If you’re running Facebook ads campaigns, one metric to keep an eye on is ad frequency. This tells you how many times your ad was delivered to the same users throughout its entire run.
But why should you focus on this metric? Well, it’s generally a bad idea to overexpose one user to the same ad, as that can lead to ad fatigue, and bring the user to such a state where they’re so sick of the ad, that they aren’t open to what you have to offer anymore. But how can you control who Facebook delivers your ad to?
Understanding Ad Frequency
When a Facebook ad scores a high ad frequency, that campaign will likely not generate any results. Sure, some people need to be exposed multiple times to an ad to be able to make a comfortable decision about whether to convert, but you’re better off retargeting them with fresh content as opposed to showing them the same ad over and over again.
When the latter happens, users will not respond positively. They can see it as aggressive marketing, even if the ad frequency wasn’t raised on purpose. So, in general, you should make sure your running ads never have a frequency above 3-4 for optimum performance.
How to Control Ad Frequency
If your Facebook marketing efforts aren’t getting results, and that’s attributed to high frequency, then you most likely have an issue with how the ad was set up. These problems are easily fixable, right in the Ads Manager. You can even do it in real-time to avoid spending money on delivering ads to the same news feed on repeat.
Here are a few ways to do it:
1. Ad Placement
If you’re only delivering ads to news feeds, that increases the likelihood of your frequency scoring high since you’re pretty much tying Facebook’s hands as to where to show your ads.
An ad set or campaign that uses different placements may still have a higher frequency, but the negative impression the user gets won’t be the same. For instance, there’s a big difference between seeing the same ad 4 times on your news feed only, and seeing it a total of 4 times, but with different placements:
- News feed
- Right-hand column
Even if we’re talking about the same ad, with the same copy and visuals, the difference in placement makes it seem less aggressive, since the user won’t feel like they’re being followed by the ad.
2. Audience Size, and the Wrong Campaign Length
If you have smaller audiences for your ads, you can expect performance issues because Facebook may not have enough people to show the ads for the specific timeframe you want to run your campaign.
It’s math, basically: if your target audience only has 2000 people in it, but you want to run a campaign for them that spans over 3 weeks, at one point Facebook runs out of people to show your ads to, so they’ll just retarget the existing audience with the same ad. The algorithm knows the ad has to be active for 3 weeks.
A small audience means you’re specific in your targeting, but there is such a thing as being too specific. If you don’t know who your audience is, running a few lead ads to gain this information might be beneficial.
3. The Wrong Budget
It’s a similar issue with having a campaign that runs too long. If your audience isn’t that big, and you give Facebook a big budget to run your ads, then you’ll face the exact same problem. The service has to spend the money you told them to and to do that they’ll go through the same users.
Ads with smaller budgets that run for a shorter time are a lot easier to control when it comes to who you’re targeting.
4. Not Using Custom Audiences
There’s another layer to this issue: because Facebook is targeting the same people over and over, it likely means those targeted ads are still being delivered even to the people who’ve already converted.
So you see an ad for a great article, and you click it. Read it, it was great! You go on with your business, and a while later you see the same ad, with the same great article again. It’s annoying, to say the least.
Custom audiences can help you fix that problem because you can exclude certain users based on various criteria, such as them having converted.
5. Not Using Frequency Capping
Frequency capping tells Facebook not to show your ads more than X times to the same users. You can choose to cap based on a few goals:
- Reach and frequency – to balance the reach and ad frequency
- Reach optimisation – if your ad sets have the reach objective
- Daily unique reach – when you need to choose specific actions, such as link clicks or impressions.
Note that frequency capping isn’t necessarily a magical fix. When advertising on Facebook, you should still make sure you have high-quality campaigns, choose the right budget and audience, and take part in split testing if you want to make sure you get results.
If you have the wrong budget and wrong target audience, frequency capping prevents Facebook from delivering your ads to the same audience on repeat, but your target likely won’t convert the way you expect them to.
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