When starting a social media advertising campaign, many factors need to be considered, including the type of ad you want to run such as static image, animated, carousel or video, the messaging, budget, targeting, audience, frequency and more. One factor that can be important to pay attention to is ad frequency. You want to ensure your ad has enough exposure so that your audience understands what your product/service/event/sale is but is not being shown to the same users so much that it creates ad fatigue. Let’s dive into the types of ads, the definition of ad frequency, ad fatigue, and why Facebook has frequency capping for ads to help ensure you can plan for the most effective ad frequency for your campaign.
Facebook offers many different formats for advertising. It’s important to know the options in order to choose the right one(s) for your campaign goal. Here are a few of the most popular ad formats.
Image ads are the most basic type available and simple to create. If using this format, we typically recommend a very visually appealing image and the business logo. You can even boost a regular Facebook post and turn it into an image ad.
Facebook also offers video ad formats. Video ads can be up to 240 minutes long but Facebook actually recommends 15 seconds as the optimal length to be as engaging as possible. We have found great success for our clients with this type of format and often create GIFS that are uploaded as the video ad format.
Slideshow ads can be comprised of 3-10 images or a single video that plays in a slideshow. It can be an effective alternative to video ads because it uses less data and also doesn’t require video editing or video development skills.
Carousel ads showcase up to 10 images or videos. This is a great option if you have different products or services to showcase because each can have its own headline, description and link so you can link to various products or different landing pages.
Similar to carousel ads, each collection ad has a primary video or image with three smaller images below in a grid-like layout. Users can shop directly from the ad and will be taken to a fast-loading post-click experience powered by Instant Experience. This ad format is designed to be mobile-only.
Instant Experience Ads
Instant Experience Ads are also mobile-only interactive ads that let users engage with promoted content on Facebook. Users can zoom in and out of these ads, tilt or rotate the screen and browse through a carousel of images or videos. Facebook Instant Experiences are designed for mobile and load up to 15x faster than standard mobile web ads. Facebook also provides templates you can use to make your ad even easier to develop.
Over one billion Facebook Stories are shared daily! Ads in stories can be images, videos or carousels. Facebook Stories do require a different ad format so you may have to develop new creative to fit the specs. They also aren’t placed directly in users' newsfeeds but nevertheless can be very attention-grabbing for those who watch Stories.
Now that you have learned about the various popular ad formats, it’s time to learn more about ad frequency as you set up your campaign. Ad frequency is the average number of times a user can potentially be shown your ad. Ad frequency is calculated by dividing your ad’s impressions by its reach so it is an estimated metric for how many times each user has seen it. For example, if your ad has a reach of 1,000, it has been served to 1,000 users and if there have been 2,000 impressions, the ad frequency is 2 meaning it’s potentially been shown to your audience two times. You can find this metric in Meta Ads Manager (formerly Facebook Ads Manager) and set up a targeted ad frequency for your campaigns. It’s important to note this is an estimate and also an average so it is possible certain users have seen your ad more than this or only once. Other tools you can access after the campaign has been running are various reports in Ads Manager such as the ad set report where you can see reach, frequency, impressions, CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions), and many more valuable metrics.
The last thing you want to happen to your ad campaign is for potential customers to click the dreaded “Hide Ad” and tell Facebook they are not interested and it’s not relevant. You can’t advertise to them any longer when this action is taken. But you also want to make sure the right audience sees your ad enough for the message to sink in because you don’t want a potential customer to miss your ad. You need to find that optimization sweet spot.
Ad fatigue occurs when a user is tired of seeing the same ad repeatedly and effectiveness is reduced. When we see the same commercials on TV/streaming services too many times, we can become frustrated (creating a negative brand impression) or tune it out altogether. It also occurs when we are served the same ad over and over again in our Facebook Feed. It’s tempting to click “Hide Ad” and tell Facebook it’s irrelevant but that’s exactly what you do not want to happen to your own campaigns. When Hide Ad is clicked, that’s the end of being able to market to that potential customer.
It’s best to recognize if ad fatigue is being caused early on in your campaigns so that you can course-correct it quickly. Fixing ad fatigue can be as simple as switching up the ad creative colors or setting a more effective ad delivery schedule, or it can be more time-consuming such as creating whole new campaigns that will better resonate. If your campaigns start having lower click-through rates (CTRs), impressions and overall engagement, it’s time to take action and then closely monitor ad performance.
Facebook recommends an ad frequency of 2 as being the most effective as a baseline. It really just depends on the type of campaign as there is no “one size fits all” ad frequency. For example, if your campaign is going to be for an event, you’ll likely have a shorter campaign with a definite start and end date vs just a general branding or product campaign that’s less timely/urgent. A higher ad frequency to really drive the promotion of the event is not a bad thing in this instance, especially as the event date gets closer.
The answer is it depends. There are many factors that can influence whether you should set an ad frequency cap and what that should be. In the example mentioned above, a higher ad frequency is going to be appropriate due to the short campaign duration, high season, and short purchase cycle.
Facebook nicely lays out lower, base and higher ad frequency situations in this article but we have included a redesigned version of their graphic below that illustrates what to consider when planning for effective Facebook ad frequency. Taking into account various market, message and media factors, level of brand awareness and the campaign purpose is important.
Marketing is never absolute and one size fits all – and that’s why we love it! Facebook advertising can be a powerful platform to use in your marketing arsenal. As with all platforms, monitoring metrics closely, effective targeting, A/B testing, and learning from the data is key to success.
CTRL+ALT Digital can help you maximize your ad dollars and monetize your social media efforts. Contact us today and let’s discuss your social media advertising goals.