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Finding the right frequency, part 1: myth busting

For marketers, influencing consumers without annoying them has always been a bit of a challenge. Ideal frequency has traditionally been hard to find, especially in the fragmented digital landscape of today. Check out the first entry in our three-part series to discover how you can reach the right audience the right number of times.

As a consumer, you can probably think back to a time when you felt like you were being followed by an ad, whether across the internet or on TV as you channel-surf. For marketers, influencing consumers without annoying them has always been a bit of a challenge. We call this sweet spot the ideal (or optimal) frequency. What constitutes “ideal,” as we’ll discuss later, depends on several factors.

The fragmented digital landscape has made measuring ideal frequency more complex. With more platforms — like Connected TV (CTV) — and direct buys on specific publishers, it’s harder to measure the number of times a user has seen an ad across an entire campaign and its channels. Luckily, since more channels are moving to programmatic advertising, you can use data-driven analysis to uncover the right frequency. In this three-part series, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • What are the common myths of media buying and frequency management?
  • What are the components of an effective frequency strategy?
  • How do I determine ideal frequency on The Trade Desk?

Common myths of media buying and frequency management

Frequency is core to advertising. Let’s uncover some of the myths that might impede your understanding of holistic frequency.

Myth #1: To reach a target audience at scale, I need a media plan with a variety of platforms, and to buy channels across different demand-side platforms (DSPs), including publisher direct deals.

There was a time when buying from multiple ad networks and high-impact formats on key publishers meant you were building comprehensive reach. This is no longer the case, since The Trade Desk offers marketers the ability to target audiences at scale across thousands of publishers and every channel, including CTV, audio, in-game, and even digital out-of-home (DOOH). On top of that, we offer cross-device technology and an interoperable identity solution — Unified ID 2.0 (UID2) — to support you in understanding the user journey across channels. Consolidation onto our platform can help you manage your frequency, reduce wasted ad spend, and dive into customer-journey touchpoints across all channels.

Myth #2: Publisher direct deals are the best way to efficiently invest media dollars and get better outcomes, because I can pre-negotiate a cost with a preferred partner.

Marketers looking to consolidate media into open marketplaces often focus on the cost of media over the value it drives, and therefore struggle with the perceived higher costs of consolidation compared to direct deals. While frequency management can influence advertising outcomes and manage the consumer ad experience, to maximize its potential, you need to consolidate into a single environment — one that’s governed by a robust identity solution and device graph. When done right, frequency management alone can give you significant ROI increases and allow you to reinvest budget to drive greater unique reach.

Myth #3: I can control frequency when buying with publishers directly.

When you run with publishers directly, you often forfeit the ability to understand and manage overlap across direct deals on multiple publishers. In other words, it is almost impossible for you to control frequency across platforms. Even if a frequency cap is in place, when running directly with Publisher X and Publisher Y, it’s generally not possible to ensure they are not serving ads to the same consumer.

Marketers taking a haphazard approach to frequency management may be leaving significant cost savings on the table. While frequency management can feel like a trivial exercise, it’s a foundational aspect of campaign success — one which needs refinement and iteration to maximize.

Continue to part two to understand the strategic components that will help you best evaluate frequency.

Need help finding your optimal frequency? Our trading team is focused on diving into data with you to maximize your investments across the open internet.

The Trade Desk provides this information for the general knowledge of its clients or prospective clients and does not make any representations nor guarantees of any kind with regards to the future performance.