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Groundhog outside its hole on Groundhog Day: frequency management

Frequency Management: How Advertisers Avoid Groundhog Day

November 29th, 2017   ||    by Monta Monaco Hernon   ||    No Comments

In the movie Groundhog Day, actor Bill Murray’s character wakes up every morning to discover it’s February 2 all over again. And he must live the same day repeatedly until he finally gets it right.

With advertising, two analogies can be made: Consumers forced to watch the same commercial ad nauseam will grow weary and bored, and an advertiser might repeat mistakes before finding the right formula for optimal reach and impact.

Frequency management is the term that describes the algorithms and data analysis that go into determining that formula. The process in and of itself is complicated—and often requires trial and error—but the future of frequency management is growing even more tangled as the need to consider cross-platform marketing increases. So, how can advertisers proceed?

Numbers Game

The starting point for frequency management is to compare ad frequency to cost per acquisition (CPA) or click-through rate (CTR), according to Ad Exchanger. After a certain number of exposures, there’s generally a drop-off—meaning less impact. That threshold becomes the target frequency number. An important variable is the conversion window, and factoring time to conversion into equations with varying ad frequencies can help with optimization.

There are other challenges too. Frequency management has to be unified across devices, but if different platforms are used, it becomes difficult to track across the ecosystem. The Ad Exchanger article explains one solution is to use the same ad server throughout the company, and possibly operate within one walled garden, like Google. However, a brand may not like the idea of doing this and can instead utilize multitouch attribution or experiment with other methods.

Programmatic Unity

Ad executives maintain the ideal would have no walled gardens, where entities like Facebook or Google are unwilling to share data. And the whole frequency management package would include television data and factor TV into cross-platform buying.

This is precisely where programmatic technology can help. Programmatic platforms analyze data from multiple sources to determine how to place an advertisement in front of the most receptive audience. Programmatic is no stranger to the digital world, of course, but it’s now making headway in television as well.

The more programmatic is used to automate TV buys, the more brands will be able to unify their marketing strategies. Television data could then be factored into the algorithms used for frequency management, and the overall plan for hitting the sweet spot of exposure could be extended to an entire campaign instead of just one portion of it.

After all, even if digital messaging were nicely restrained, a viewer could still be saturated with repeated viewings of a television commercial. And media buyers certainly don’t want to leave consumers desperately wishing the groundhog would just go back into its hole.

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