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Frequency Capping (FC) definition

Frequency capping for better advertising results. (© Reddeer_art -

Frequency capping for better advertising results. (© Reddeer_art -

Frequency capping (FC) refers to a process that involves limiting the amount of times a website visitor is exposed to either a single ad or an entire ad campaign. This process is applied to all websites that use the same advertising network to provide ads. It helps to reduce the number of impressions (views) a site visitor can see an ad within a specific time frame. In this article, we’ll give a more in-depth definition of frequency capping and explain its benefits.

Surely you have watched TV or listened to the radio and seen or heard the same advertisement over and over again. After a while, that ad kind of gets on your nerves, so much so that you either don’t pay any attention to it, or you flip the channel to avoid it. In internet marketing, the same thing can happen. Advertisers display ads, and often, those ads follow you around the web, seemingly appearing on every site you visit. Just like ads on TV and the radio, the ads that seem to haunt you on the Internet can become downright irritating.

If those repetitive ads are annoying you, they’re annoying your customers, too. Once an ad has been seen more than a certain amount of times (generally that number is three), it is very unlikely that the ad will generate more results, be it clicks, views, conversions, or intentions to purchase.

Essentially, when an ad is shown more than a certain amount of times, a marketer essentially reduces the value of that advertisement. To help minimize this problem, frequency capping comes into play.

What is Frequency Capping?

In online marketing, frequency capping is a process that involves limiting the amount of times a web user is exposed to an advertisement. The standard rule of thumb for ad exposure is “The rule of 3”. This rule implies that usually, an ad has to be seen three times for an average person to take some sort of action or to develop an awareness of a brand; however, seeing an ad more than three times a day has the potential to do more harm than good.

Why Use Frequency Capping?

You want your brand to be seen, but you don’t want it to be overkill. For that reason, it is a wise idea to use frequency capping. Just because someone visits your website once or twice, it doesn’t mean that they want to see your ads everywhere they go. As a matter of fact, being exposed to an ad too much can severely (and quickly) decrease the effectiveness of an ad campaign’s performance.

When someone sees an ad too often, there’s a very good chance that they are going to completely ignore it, an occurrence that is referred to as banner blindness. Or, they might just start thinking that your brand is downright annoying. In other words, they more an ad is seen, the less effective it will be, which means

  • less clicks
  • and less conversions.
openPR tip: Since frequency capping limits the amount of times a person will see an ad, it will, in essence, prevent them from being overwhelmed by it, bored by it, or just plain annoyed by it.

How Frequency Capping is Done

Setting up a frequency cap is easy. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Log into Google Analytics
  • Open a Display campaign
  • Click on the Settings tab
  • Select All Settings
  • Click Ad Delivery: ad rotation, frequency capping
  • Beside frequency capping, select edit
  • Enter the viewable impressions you would like. This can be done on a daily or monthly basis, or it can be done per ad or per campaign.

What is the Ideal Frequency Cap?

Generally, the rule of thumb is three (as mentioned above); however, every ad, every ad campaign, and every business is different. While three might be suggested, a higher or lower number might be a better option for you. The best way to determine the right frequency ad cap is to check out your frequency ad data history.  To do that, follow these steps:

  • Open Google Analytics
  • Select AdWords Linking
  • Choose Linked AdWord Account
  • Click on Link Configuration
  • Click the “enable Google Network Impression reporting” box
  • Go to reports
  • Click on the drop down titled “interaction type”
  • Select the impressions box
  • Check out the amount of impressions vs the number of conversions
  • Find out where your conversions are falling off. This number indicates where you should set your frequency cap.

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