How To Manage Your Facebook Ad Frequency In 2020

What is Facebook ad frequency anyways? Should you care, and most importantly what should you do about it. We answer all of that in this article.

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The big question that remains unanswered is: what should my Facebook ad frequency look like?

This is probably the worst question to ask because who cares about frequency. What we care about are sales, visibility or leads, not ad frequency.

It’s only when ad frequency diminishes your results that you should care about it and another instance when you get a lot of people hiding your ads because you are advertising too much on your Facebook custom audiences.

People often forget Facebook ad frequency as a metric, and some should, but others shouldn’t.

Why should you care about Facebook ad frequency?

I would argue that to some people, they shouldn’t care about Facebook ad frequency, but only if they understand the situations where they shouldn’t care.

Facebook ad frequency can ruin your retargeting campaigns by diminishing your results or worst, having people hide your ads so you can’t advertise to them anymore. The latter could reduce your retargeting audience and thus take you away from being able to show ads to an audience you’ve worked hard to build.

What is Facebook ad frequency anyways?

Facebook defines Frequency as “the average number of times that each person saw your ad.” It’s essentially how many times one person has seen your ad on average.

The calculation is the number of impressions divided by the reach. If your ad has been seen 10,000 times but it reached only 5,000 people, then your Facebook ad frequency would be 2, meaning that people have seen your ad on average 2 times. That’s not bad, right?

Not bad GIF

One word of caution, remember that this metric is an average. This means that some people might have seen your ad 5 times and others only once and if we group them together, it gives an average of 3 for instance.

How to find your Facebook ads frequency?

Facebook allows you to check your frequency at the campaign level, ad set level and ads level. Let’s dive into the necessary steps to achieve this.

#1 – Go inside the business manager and click on your “Ads Manager”.

Ads Manager Facebook

#2 – Click on “column” at the middle right of the screen.

Column Facebook Ads

#3 – Select “customize columns” in the dropdown menu.

Customise columns Facebook

#4 – Select “Frequency” to make it appear in your ads manager.

Frequency Facebook ads

Here you go! Now, all you have to do is watch it in your ads manager.

Hot tip ?️: organize your columns by placing them in this order: Impressions >> Reach >> Frequency. Since the calculation is impressions/reach = frequency, you’ll be able to understand it better when you look at it.

Time-sensitive frequency breaks

If you wish to know the frequency you’ve ad on certain campaigns, ad sets or even ads, you just have to change the timeframe in your ads manager.

Time breakdown Facebook ads

Make sure you’ve selected the campaign, ad set or ads you want to have data on and you’ll be able to see any change in your Facebook ad frequency daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

You still need to select the period you want to cover on at the top right of your ads manager.

For example, if you wanted to know the daily Facebook ad frequency for the past week. You would select “last 7 days” and create a “daily” breakout.

This way you would see the ad frequency every day for the last 7 days of your campaign, ad set or ad.

Breakdown frequency breaks

To find out the frequency of your campaigns, ad sets or ads based on other metrics than “time”, you just need to follow the steps above, but select something else in the “breakdown column”.

Here are the most popular breakdowns you could do:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Age & gender
  • Country
  • Region
  • Placements

This way you’ll be able to know what is your ad frequency for people in Toronto or New York over a certain period of time. You might realize that your frequency in New York is low but in Toronto, it’s pretty high.

Knowing this information would allow you to exclude people from Toronto, to further target people from New York.

Here’s a list of all the options:

Breakdown by delivery Facebook ads

What Facebook ad frequency should I aim for?

This is the most asked question of them all when it comes to Facebook ad frequency, so I’ll try answering that briefly for you here.

Facebook essentially says that after a frequency of 2, your brand lift starts to stagnate, meaning your results don’t improve. They wrote an article on the subject called Effective Frequency which I truly recommend.

Facebook ad frequency

I would argue against that because we’ve had accounts with an ad frequency of 16 on certain campaigns and the results were awesome.

I also like this chart from Facebook which can give some idea of when to have a high frequency.

Facebook ad frequency

Our client that had a really high frequency was a festival and the frequency was really high right before the beginning of it all.

It was definitely a high season and we were varying our ad creatives a lot. Also, the purchase cycle was short since people would buy shows for events on the same day and would be interested to buy a ticket for another show on another day.

What it means is that there are situations where keeping your ad frequency low makes sense and other times where keeping it high makes sense.

Here are two must strategies to do if you are starting to get a high frequency.

#1 – Rotating a lot of different ad creatives

Rotating your ad creatives is your surefire way of making sure people see different things about your brand every time.

If you’ve shown an ad twice to the same people, then it might be time to show them something else.

There’s something else. When we talk about ad rotation, we also talk about having a high creative rotation. This means that if you run 10 different ad creatives, they need to have a different image, a different marketing angle and a different copywriting.

Your goal here is really to switch up your strategy to better connect with your audience.

Hot tip ?️: if you run multiple creatives and one seems to eat up the entire budget, you can set a rule to turn it off when it reaches a frequency of 2 in its lifetime.

#2 – Breakdown your audiences based on placement

You might realize that your ad frequency is high overall, but pretty normal if you segment it between Facebook news feed, Instagram story, etc.

In fact, you’d want to show your ad to people in as many placements as possible. It’s why we really recommend you take a look at the frequency per placement of your campaign, ad set or ad.

Depending on your objective, you might see that your frequency is highest on certain placements and you might exclude those placements for your ads to be more shown on those underdelivered placements.

Where can you find it?

You just have to click on “breakdown” at the middle right of your screen, then select “delivery” and then select “placement“.

Facebook ad breakdown

Some placements might be less effective and thus be way less competitive. Fewer people fighting for the same ad space equals cheaper traffic which could mean higher ROI.

At a time where everyone was saying to stay away from Instagram advertising, I was spending upwards of $10,000 a day on that placement alone and the results were mind-blowing.

Is your frequency a problem?

In the early days of Facebook advertising, we were using ad frequency to measure ad fatigue. Slowly, it evolved into a signal to make us look at the negative score to see if people weren’t liking our ads.

Now, we don’t even have a negative feedback score, but instead “quality scores”.

You can add these to your columns by following the steps below:

#1 – Click on “column” at the middle right of your ads manager.

Columns Facebook ad frequency

#2 – Click on “customise columns“.

Cutomise Columns Facebook ads frequency

#3 – Select “Quality rankings“, and you’ll see in your columns.

Quality Ranking Facebook ads

Now, you’ll be able to tell if your ads (because it doesn’t work at the campaign or ad set level), have a below-average, average or above-average ranking. This will help you in knowing if your ad frequency is having a bad effect on your performance.

Of course, if your ad frequency is climbing and your results are diminishing, then this is another sign that you should change strategy before it’s too late.

How to control ad frequency

If you are sick of it all and want to finally take control over your Facebook ad frequency, we made a list of strategies we think you’ll love.

These methods can further help, but the best of them all really depends on your situation.

If you spend a lot on Facebook ads, finding tools that can help you simplify your work is essential.

If you don’t spend a lot, then we recommend doing this manually because you’ll always get better results manually.

#1 – Doing it manually: this is probably the best method if you have the time for it. You can essentially take a look at your frequency, quality rankings, and results to make a decision. If your frequency does impact negatively your results, you can add more different creatives, switch up the targeting and so on.

This method works well because it allows you the time to take a look at your quality rankings and results to not turn off an ad where having a high frequency doesn’t impact negatively your Facebook ads. Be careful when making modifications though, this could reset the learning phase of your Facebook ads.

#2 – The reach objective: using the reach objective allows you to put a cap on your frequency. You could choose to have a frequency cap of maximum 2, meaning that your ad would never go above that average.

It’s not the best option because the reach objective is rarely the best objective, except when you are doing Facebook ads retargeting.

#3 – Setting up automated rules: you could set up an automated rule for when a certain ad frequency is met on your ads to either turn off the ad or even just lower the budget. This is a good strategy if you can’t do it manually, we usually just lower the budget when the frequency is reached until the stats get better.

You just need to go inside your business manager, select “Automated Rules“.

Automated Rules Facebook

Then you’ll be prompted to create an actual automated rule and it’ll look like this:

There are a lot of ways to leverage “Facebook automated rules” so if you want to learn more, check out this Facebook guide.

#4 – Leveraging reach & frequency buying: this is a tool from Facebook that allows you to specify certain goals you have about your reach in advance for example. It has two downsides.

First, it’s not available to all advertisers, and second, it locks in your pre-determined goals so you can’t change them. If your ad were to perform well, you wouldn’t be able to spend more on it.

A quick summary

I can understand that all these points can confuse you, so I made a list of the actionable insights from this article in bullet points.

  • There’s no ideal frequency, it depends on your situation
  • High frequency isn’t bad if your quality score is good and your results don’t seem to be impacted
  • There are many ways to better control your frequency to maximize your results

How do you handle your Facebook ads frequency problems?

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