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What Is The Best Way To Use Frequency Capping?

Today’s question is from Brianna

 She asks, “What is the best way to use frequency capping in a display campaign without using Google’s recommended feature?”

For anyone not familiar, the recommended feature of “frequency capping” is basically to let Google auto-optimize it.

Frequency capping is a limit on how many times your ad is going to be shown per day or per week to a particular user. 

If I set a daily frequency cap of five, that means no one specific person is going to see my ad more than five times per day. They might see my ads again the next day, and the day after that, and they might see my ad five times each day. But if I have a daily frequency cap of five, that’s the limit once they’ve seen my ad, or at least once the ad has showed up on their screen

Maybe they didn’t see it every time. But once it has showed up for them at least five times, they’re cut off until the next cycle resets and again.

You can set that up daily, weekly, whatever. With Google’s recommended feature, they auto-optimize that for you. 

I do recommend actually setting frequency cap limits.

You’re not really setting a limit (and I don’t recommend that). This applies to Display Ads, and also to YouTube ads. 

Display Ads

For Display Ads, it depends on the type of campaign it is. If it’s a Remarketing Campaign, (which I know a lot of people are using Display Ads for), I don’t like to limit those very much. I don’t care if someone sees my ad 20-30 times a day or more. That’s actually good. 

Take, for example, McDonald’s.  If you were to ask the head of marketing for McDonald’s, how often he would want someone to see a McDonald’s ad each day, they’re not going to give you a limit. They want people to see their ads as much as possible.

That’s why they have ads and billboards and commercials, on TV, radio, and everywhere. They want you to show you their ad as much as possible. It’s a brand you’re familiar with and you expect to see their ads all over the place. You don’t decide not to go to McDonald’s just because you saw their ad too many times in a day. 

Okay, think about that.

There are lots of other reasons you might decide not to go to McDonald’s. But it’s not because they’re annoying you with too many ads.

Hitting someone with too many ads in a day isn’t really a problem, especially if your ads are varied.

If you have lots of different ads and it’s a retargeting campaign, I would set the frequency cap extremely high, like fifty per day. 

Now the reason that you would want to set a frequency cap is really more of a cost control issue. I don’t want to show my ad fifty times a day to someone who is not interested in my company. So that’s where frequency cap is really going to come into play. Because if someone’s seeing my ad fifty or one hundred times a day and they have no interest in what I’m selling. At that point, I’m just wasting money. 

You can set a cap of five per day, that’s usually where I start.

Five ads a day is a decent and reasonable number. Some of the reasons why you have to run your ad a few times a day to your target audience:

  • Maybe somebody did not notice your ad the first few times. 
  • Maybe they noticed it the first time, but they just were in the middle of something else and didn’t want to click on it. 

When they see it again, the fourth or fifth time, maybe now they are going to click on your ad and come see whatever it is that you’re advertising. 

So five a day is a good place to start. If you’re getting good results with your campaign, this also allows you to go ahead and start to increase your frequency cap to more than five. This will show your ads to people more often, you’ll hopefully get more clicks, more conversions, and you’ll be spending more of your budget.

That’s how I would approach frequency capping for a display campaign. 

YouTube Ads

Frequency capping is a little different with YouTube Ads.

You can set a cap for impressions, and also for views

An impression is just someone seeing your ad. So if I’m talking about an in-stream ad, someone could skip my ad after five seconds, that still counts as an impression. If they watch the ad to thirty seconds, that counts as a view. And I can put a cap on either or both of those things.

Where I start with YouTube Ads is: five impressions per day, and two views per day.

Some viewers are seeing thirty seconds of an ad, but maybe that happens just because they’re not even paying attention.  Maybe the ad comes up at the beginning of the video and they go check their Facebook alerts or something like that, so they click “skip ad” because they are not interested in watching the ad. If that’s someone’s habits, I don’t want to keep showing them the ad.

I find two views is more than enough.

If they’ve seen the ad twice, I don’t really want to show it to them again, at least not today. I’ll show the ad to them again the next day or the day after, especially if they are in my target market. 

If I have my targeting right, and I know that I really want particular people to see the ad, I’ll keep showing it to them a couple of times a day. It’s not going to cost that much, but you’re paying per view in YouTube ads. That’s why I don’t want to pay for views of people who might watch the ad five times in a day. If they’ve seen it five times, that usually means that one of the following is true: 

  1. They’re not even paying attention to the ad.
  2. They have already clicked on the ad, meaning they’ve become a lead.
  3. They’ve already purchased something.

At that point, they would be excluded from my lead generation campaign.

With YouTube, just like I mentioned with Display Ads, you have an opportunity to scale your campaign. By increasing your frequency cap, you can increase the cap of impressions, you can increase the cap on views. At that point, pay attention to whether that actually helps you get more of the same results or if it just starts driving your costs up. If it just starts driving your costs up but your results are diminishing, go back down. 

What’s the bottom line?

For a Remarketing Campaign, I use very high-frequency caps. For cold traffic campaigns, they’re going to be lower because of cost control issues. It doesn’t hurt to start low and increase it as needed depending on your budget.