Facebook has recently offered some advice for advertisers about frequency of ads. The advice is sound, and could even be generalised for all platforms. We take a look.

As you know, Facebook is built on advertising. Mark Zuckerberg himself has admitted that the entire platform has reached it’s incredible position simply because it is full of ads. This is all mostly because it is a particularly effective ad platform. If you advertise using Facebook, you get results. It’s that simple.

Recently, Facebook decided it wanted to help it’s advertisers a little by digging deep into show ads. There have been plenty of studies over the years on the effectiveness of ads but Facebook focused on one particular variable that is often ignored. The frequency of ads being served must have some effect on an audience. Is there ever a point when an audience has seen an ad too many times? What’s the ‘sweet spot’ for serving ads?

Facebook pulled together some pointers for advertisers, and it has all turned out to be pretty useful. The following points don’t apply just to Facebook. If you advertise anywhere on social media, we’re guessing that you’ll be able to take something away from the findings.

The study

Facebook introduced the study with:

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?

So creative is a factor, as is the law of diminishing returns. Facebook used Brand Lift, it’s specialist testing technology, to look at 2,439 ad campaigns to get the results.

Looking at ‘desired response rate’, Facebook found that repeated impressions to the same person did indeed lead a desired response rate up to a point. After the 5th impression, the curve started to flatten a little, before levelling out. So essentially, what Facebook is saying is that impressions to the same person tend to lose their effectiveness after 5 impressions. This could even arguably be the ‘sweet spot’ that marketers should be aware of when planning budget spends.

Then Facebook discussed creative. It found that ads that had good creative tended to get better results, but again the frequency was an issue after time. Again, the magic number seemed to be 5. While good creative can still see some increases after 5, these increases in desired response rate are not as strong as the rise up to the 5th impression.

So far, the study seems to suggest that keeping ad creative as optimised as possible, and having expectations around frequency, is a sensible and realistic approach to get the most out of ads.

Facebooks’ advice for marketers

Facebook rounded out the study by focusing on a few key takeaways for marketers.

  • Facebook suggests heavy testing of ads, to see where a brand’s point of diminishing returns comes into play. A brand may find that most of their campaigns drop off around the 4th serving of an ad, for example. By testing, that brand can waste less money, and focus on optimising campaigns for an expected lifespan
  • It’s important, according to Facebook, to ensure creative is optimised too. Good creative ads tend to fall off later than average or bad creative ads.
  • Pulling all of that together, Facebook states that optimising creative and monitoring through testing means better ads and better outcomes over time, By knowing what works, and how long it is expected to work, you can only end up doing the very best possible

Ad spend is a huge part of what a brand works with every year. It would be preferable to spend less and get more. This can actually be achieved if you know about ad frequency and desired response rate. Knowing the limits of your ads means you can plan ahead, kill ads when it is the right time to do so, and focus on creating better ad content that pushes that diminishing return point further and further away. Again, it’s all about testing and monitoring, but if brands are able to put in the work, the results can be astonishing.

Read more: Creating Better Ads