Establishing [Effective] Frequency for Facebook Ads

Let’s look at Frequency in Advertising before we take a look at controlling Frequency for Facebook Ads.

“…the effective frequency is the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is made and before exposure is considered wasteful.” WikipediA

So in simple terms:

A low frequency means your ads are not making enough of an impact to drive awareness or generate brand/product recall.

A high frequency can cause oversaturation, wasted spend, ad blindness and irritation potentially creating a negative brand perception.


How is Facebook Ad Frequency Calculated?


The Facebook formula for Ad Frequency is impressions divided by reach.

However, keep in mind that Facebook calculates this metric using sampled data.


What Is A Good Frequency For Facebook Ads


There is no defined Facebook Ad frequency or best practice on what determines effective frequency.

Traditional advertising says that you need to get your ad in front of a user 3 – 7 times within a purchase cycle.

Facebook has unofficially recommended optimal ad frequency of 2-3.

In my experience, the ideal ad frequency varies across different verticals, audience segment, audience sizes, advertising platforms and messaging types.

For example, by working with CPG brands, I have found that maintaining a frequency between 2 – 3 over a 2 – 4 week period returned the best result.

Having said that let’s look at monitoring Frequency for Facebook Ads so that we can understand and identify the tipping point.



How to monitor Facebook Ad Frequency


Controlling Facebook Ad frequency can be tricky.

For some reason, Facebook does not provide a straightforward way to set frequency caps.

So we need to monitor Frequency for Facebook Ads that will enable us to identify freq anomalies.

To do this, I like to monitor ad relevance, CTR, and conversions relative to the frequency.

I wrote a quick tip on Managing Facebook Frequency that takes a look at how to do this.

There are a few ways to monitor and control frequency on Facebook I have them bucketed into two approaches; Settings and Exclusions.

Let’s first take a look at available Facebook Ad settings.


How to Control Frequency through settings


There are three ways you can go about setting ad frequency on Facebook.


1. Set the ad to run based on unique daily reach

[Only serve your ad once per day to each user]


Unique daily reach is not an ideal solution since you are not giving Facebook an opportunity to work towards a specific objective.


Frequency for Facebook Ads


2. Use the Reach and Freq campaign

[Less flexibility]


This campaign type allows you to set the specific frequency for each user.

Reach and frequency campaigns, which also allow sequential targeting, are worth exploring.

However, running this campaign type is similar to a media buy with reserved inventory allowing for less flexibility and potentially increased CPM costs.




You can set a rule based on the campaign reaching a specific frequency in a given time frame.

Also not the best choice since I would rather see the campaign continue running and adjust the frequency to reach more new users.


Frequency for Facebook Ads


Now that we covered the ‘Settings Approach’ let’s take a look at using exclusions.


How to Control Frequency for Facebook Ads Through Exclusions


Since there is no setting that allows us to change ad frequency on facebook I have found pixel exclusions to be the most effective to set a facebook ad frequency caps.

Here are the steps to set up and exclude campaign and/or ad specific audiences to control Frequency for Facebook Ads

  1. First, make sure that your Facebook pixel is properly installed.
  2. Then build a custom audience of users that have visited the key landing page or engaged with specific video or canvas ad units.
  3. Add your custom audiences as exclusions to your audience segments.

Start by going to your Audiences in the Ads Manager and create a new custom audience:


Frequency for Facebook Ads


Create a custom audience from Website Traffic:


Frequency for Facebook Ads


Create an audience that has visited your specific  landing page in the last x number of days:


Frequency for Facebook Ads


Or to control the exposure of people exposed to an emotional/awareness message, you can build the following audience…


Frequency for Facebook Ads


…and then create a list of people that have interacted with one of these ad types:


Frequency for Facebook Ads


Once your ad or landing page specific custom audience has been defined, you can go to your defined audience (s) and add your custom audience as an exclusion:


Frequency for Facebook Ads


Applying this tactic will quickly show a reduction in high frequency and an improvement in engagements and goal conversion rates.




You can leverage settings to control frequency, but often this comes at a cost.

In my experience using exclusion audiences has proven over time to be the most effective way to control Frequency for Facebook Ads.

What methods have you applied to control Frequency?



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