Ad Frequency and Its Impact on Campaign Effectiveness

You might be surprised how often you need to change your ad creative, depending on the media.

We know you turn to marketingmedicare.com for good information on how to effectively market your Medicare insurance business. That’s why today we want to highlight the seldom-discussed yet very important marketing component that is ad frequency. We often hear from agents something like: “I’m not getting the leads I expected from the ad I ran last month so I think we should change it.” While changing out the ad’s creative content to increase engagement might seem like a good idea, doing so could be a big mistake that actually results in lower response rates. If you guessed that ad frequency is the reason, you’re right! Let’s examine why.

‘Ad Frequency’ refers to the number of times a consumer sees your ad. Obviously, the more times a consumer sees your ad, the more memorable it becomes. To underscore the point, consider the following brand slogans:

“Just Do It.”

“I’m lovin’ it.”

“It’s finger lickin’ good.”

“Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

You can likely match most, if not all of these taglines, with the brands that popularized them. This is a testament to ad frequency. For radio, television and print ads in general, it takes a minimum of 7 exposures for a prospect to remember your ad. Keep in mind we’re talking specifically about memorability in this context; prospects can and will respond to an ad that effectively addresses their needs/wants after seeing or hearing it only one time, though it still takes a minimum of seven exposures for them to remember the ad. The flip side to this statistic is that consumers often “tune out” the ads they’ve been exposed to 20 times or more. So, the “magic ratio” for traditional ads it would seem, is anywhere from 7-20 exposures. This is important to keep in mind the next time you’re tempted to change an ad that didn’t produce the expected results, particularly if you’ve only run the ad once or twice. We’ve worked with many agents running ads in monthly publications who experience this temptation, and ad response rates typically go up when the same ad is kept in place… nearly without exception.

These rules of thumb are different in the digital realm, notably Facebook advertising. Because ads are interactive, displayed daily, and because consumers can flag ads as “irrelevant” (which adversely affects your relevancy score), ideal ad frequency is significantly lower on this platform. The optimum number of exposures on Facebook is 3-5, with some industry experts identifying 3.4 as the definitive tipping point. This 3-5 range is the “Goldilocks Zone” for Facebook ad frequency, where anything lower or higher risks reducing your Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and increasing your costs.

We’re intentionally avoiding getting into the weeds of how to make advanced calculations and many other technical aspects involved in ad frequency (though we’re always happy to have a deep-dive discussion with any of our partners on the subject). Rather, we want to drive home the two points we believe are most important to agents striving to make the most out of their advertising campaigns.

  1. When running traditional advertisements, it’s often the case that keeping the same ad in circulation leads to increased responses over time (just keep in mind the 7-20x range).
  2. When running social media advertisements, pay close attention to ad frequency and avoid the temptation to over-promote an ad that performs well, as doing so can eventually lead to negative results.

As a National Marketing Organization that works with thousands of independent agents, we understand you must generate leads in order to grow your business. That’s why we work diligently to provide the resources necessary for successful marketing. If this information is valuable and you want to know more about the services we provide our Medicare agent partners, please contact us at marketing@berwickinsurance.com or 888-745-2320.

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