What is frequency?

Get Fluent in Performance Marketing

Plain language explainers to help you keep up with the evolving digital landscape.


What is frequency?

Frequency is the number of times an ad is displayed to a user within a given period of time. Managing how often a viewer sees an ad is crucial to avoiding ad fatigue and annoyance that alienate potential consumers who might otherwise be open to a brand’s appeal.

How does frequency work?

Frequency can affect the effectiveness of an ad campaign in a number of ways. For example, too high of a frequency can lead to ad fatigue, which is when users become annoyed by seeing the same ad over and over again. In the case when frequency is too low, the marketer’s desired target doesn’t receive enough ad exposure to reach the intended effect. 

Types of frequency:

  • Average frequency: This type of frequency measures the average number of times a user sees an ad within a given period of time.
  • Reach frequency: This type of frequency measures the percentage of users who see an ad at least once within a given period of time.

How to measure frequency: The level of ad exposure can be gauged in several ways. Ad servers keep tabs on how often an ad is shown to a user, helping calculate campaign frequency. Cookies track how many times a user views an ad, which provides accountability in Frequency calculation. Surveys can also ask users how often they've encountered a specific ad, providing estimates of ad campaign Frequency.

Why is frequency important to marketers? Frequency plays a vital role for marketers in assessing their ad campaigns' success, finding the right ad exposure levels, preventing ad exhaustion, and broadening their audience reach. Key roles like digital marketing managers, paid search specialists, and social media managers should understand Frequency's significance. 

To optimize Frequency, track your ad campaign's frequency, cap ad exposures, rotate ads to maintain user interest, and diversify your ads to enhance campaign efficiency. These practices will help you fine-tune ad frequency for better results.

Who needs to know what frequency is:

  • Media Planners
  • Account Managers
  • Campaign Managers
  • Data Analysts
  • Creative Directors
  • Digital Marketing Managers
  • Marketers
  • Product Managers
  • Sales Representatives
  • Social Media Managers

Use frequency in a sentence: “Frequency caps are essential due to the increasingly fragmented and repetitive advertising landscape, as they prevent consumer frustration, maintain a positive brand perception, and optimize ad budgets by avoiding wasted impressions.”