Advertisers and media planners have long understood that two critical factors—reach and frequency—impact performance. Often, reach (i.e., how many people an ad reaches) receives the bulk of the attention when campaigns are being developed. However, media planners have long observed that frequency (i.e., how many times someone sees an ad) can be key to driving recall and encouraging action.
Facebook IQ research has shown that while there’s no one-size-fits-all ideal frequency on Facebook, higher frequencies do tend to drive behavior changes, such as increases in purchase intent.
This insight raises questions. Is there a point at which delivering the same ad to the same person starts to have diminishing returns? Does the number change for good creative?
In order to see whether there is an optimal frequency and how quality impacts this, we conducted additional research. Below, we dive into the research methodology, look at the findings in-depth and explore how marketers boost the effectiveness and efficiency of their Facebook campaigns.
Understanding Optimal Frequency
In order to better understand optimal frequency, we looked at 2,439 Facebook Brand Lift campaigns that were measured with Facebook Brand Lift and that were run between November 2019 and March 2020 (before COVID-19 impacted much of the world) in EMEA, LATAM and North America. The advertisers represented came from six verticals: CPG, E-commerce, Financial Services, Retail, Technology and Travel.
We measured the “desired response rate”; the positive responses to survey polls on ad recall and action intent. The polls were served within 4-48 hours of someone’s last impression, except if the user did not log in during this period. Three-quarters of users received the poll within 16 days of the initial impression. The impact analyses were conducted on anonymized user-level data for pre-poll impressions.
More impressions drive greater results—up to a point
The research confirmed that more impressions is associated with better action intent and ad recall rates—and it also revealed that there tends to be a plateau, with the positive results no longer increasing as significantly after a handful of impressions. While the exact number of impressions can vary, the key insight is that there is indeed typically a point of diminishing returns.
Although the research does not take into account campaign duration, it does suggest that, after a point, brands receive less and less benefit from reaching the same person.
Creative quality impacts when performance plateaus
When it comes to reaching the point of diminishing returns, does creative quality matter?
Yes; “good” creatives—those with higher performance—tend to garner better results for more impressions compared with other creatives.
Conversely, “bad” creatives—those with lower performance—tend to reach the plateau much sooner compared with other campaigns. In other words, a higher frequency does not help in such cases.
Testing and optimization are key to optimal frequency
Creative testing and optimization are key to taking advantage of these findings; improving quality can help to raise the bar for when diminishing returns are reached. Through a combination of systematic measurement and creative intuition, advertisers can both assess and improve the quality of their campaigns. We delve into how to tackle this in-depth in our exploration of Betatyping (a process of learning through intentional creative experimentation) and Creative Shop Research Manager Lara Andrews’ perspective on unlocking creativity.
This process and framework can help marketers improve quality, thereby raising the bar for when diminishing returns are reached from repeated impressions.
Ultimately, by embracing creative testing and optimization, advertisers can not only better understand optimal frequency but also extend campaign effectiveness.
What it means for marketers
Look for the point of diminishing returns for repeated impressions
A person seeing an ad more times is associated with better results, but after a point, brands receive less and less benefit. Determining when this plateau is reached through testing is key to improving campaign effectiveness and efficiency. There’s no one-size-fits-all frequency, but use testing and consider market, message and media factors to determine what’s right for you.
Ensure quality creative to deliver better results for more impressions
High-quality creative tends to reach the optimal frequency plateau later compared with low-quality creative, meaning that advertisers often gain better results for more impressions with “good” ads. You can uncover creative best practices by taking a look at what breakthrough brands are doing.
Test and optimize creative to drive better resul