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What is Frequency in Advertising and Why is it Important?

In advertising, frequency determines the number of times an internet user will see an ad in a certain amount of time. Finding the optimal frequency limit will determine if ads will receive the right amount of spotlight by being viewed. 

Mostly, it’s advertisers who care about frequency capping; however, it’s important for publishers when serving direct campaigns–wider the capping more ad impressions there are.

What is Frequency Capping?

Frequency capping limits the number of times an ad will be exposed to a user. The main goal is to avoid showing the same ad to the same user too many times. 

If the same ad is frequently served for the same user, it can count as intrusive advertising and reduce the campaign’s CTR.

Who is responsible for setting frequency capping for ad campaigns?

  • If there is a direct deal between publisher and advertiser, frequency capping is negotiated in the Insertion Order.
  • Usually, advertisers themselves have to choose the frequency cap (in Xandr, Adform, Eskimi, Google DV360 and other DSPs). Sometimes, even ad platforms provide a service of setting automated frequency capping.

When it comes to specific ad formats, like, interstitial ads, advertisers or publishers have no control over setting frequency capping because it’s already set by default. For interstitial ads, Google sets frequency capping that cannot be changed–1 ad displayed per hour for 1 unique user. 

If you have a Google Ad Manager account, you can set frequency capping for direct campaigns by yourself–per week, day, month, lifetime or even per minute/hour. Frequency capping is also used for programmatic deals but not for Open RTB.

frequency capping

How is frequency capping applied for programmatic?

There is added frequency capping management for programmatic, which means that the frequency cap is rather automated. It’s mostly set by advertisers, but, for example, for preferred deals, monetization platforms can set it as well.

Setupad experts setting frequency cap on Xandr platform on the preferred deal

Why is Frequency Capping Important?

There is not a defined number of times you should set ad frequency. Low frequency might not deliver the results previously intended. High ad frequency can result in overexposure that can negatively impact advertisers’ brand in customers eyes, and cause low CTRs.

Why do publishers see the same ad but on different ad placements?

The answer is quite simple: The advertiser runs wrong frequency capping or hasn’t set any capping for the publisher’s site. This, however, brings more yield for the publisher because the advertiser is spending more money to display ads on the site.

Setupad experts say that good frequency capping is 1 or 2 ads per minute, avoiding ad clutter, having a reasonable budget, and reaching a bigger audience.

Frequency Capping Best Practices

  • For retargeting campaigns

Retargeting campaigns usually come with two types of goals:

– re-engage page’s visitors by targeting them with relevant products/services;

– increasing ad campaign’s conversion goals.

Advertisers are usually willing to pay bigger CPMs for such campaigns, so frequency cap for remarketing works as a great practice because it can save some budget.

For example, it could be optimal to have 8 impressions per day + a combination of 4 impressions per user in one hour. Sometimes, the first few impressions can be delivered for a higher CPM price, while others that come next for lower, thus increasing the total amount of ad impressions.

  • Brand awareness campaigns

Brand awareness campaigns can afford to have a high frequency cap (for example, 30 impressions per campaign, 12 per day, and 8 per hour) per user, and sometimes there is no limit per campaign, just per day. The main goal is to gain brand recognition fast across the chosen target audiences.

Just, so you know 30 impressions per campaign are not that many because the average user sees between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day.

Extensive visibility equals better brand recognition on the site and new potential customers. The general costs of brand awareness campaigns are higher because of lower CTRs and immediate conversions, so you as a publisher can earn more from these direct campaigns.

  • Displaying premium quality banners 

Many consumers experience banner blindness (ad is there, but the user ignores it), so the ads you serve must be high-quality and memorable, and users are willing to click on them. Usually, it means setting frequency cap–1 impression per user in one hour or up to 3 impressions per day.


If you have direct campaigns or programmatic deals, make sure that you can successfully monitor the performance of ads served and get the best possible result by adding a frequency cap. 

Just so you know, you won’t find one formula for ad frequency that will suit all served campaigns. Analyzing the previous campaign’s results and careful evaluation of current campaigns will give you a clear perspective of the frequency.

About Setupad Team
Setupad Team are experts in programmatic advertising and header bidding.

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