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May 14, 2019
May 14, 2019

The Value of Frequency Planning for Ads in Stories

With the availability of new mass marketing tools such as ads in Stories, we explore the importance of foundational principles like frequency planning in driving marketing success.
What advertisers want from their marketing campaigns is effective reach: for their target audience to see their message enough times for it to have the desired impact
But how many times is enough? In a world of finite budgets, if the frequency of exposure is too high, reach will be sacrificed; if it’s too low the campaign’s impact may be sub-optimal.
Given their prevalence in media plans for years, advertisers are likely better equipped to plan traditional and feed-based digital ads with the trade-offs between reach and frequency in mind. This is less likely to be the case, however, for relatively newer media formats like ads in Stories where the impact of frequency is less well understood.
On Snapchat, advertisers get the effective reach they’re looking for through our Reach and Frequency tool1, which gives advertisers control over this reach and frequency tradeoff.
To allow advertisers to better take advantage of this control, we carried out research into how the frequency of exposure of Snap Ads influences brand response and the influence of select media and market factors on this relationship.
What data and approaches did we use?
Data from over a hundred Snapchat campaigns2, consisting exclusively of Snap Ads (with brand advertising response measured with Snapchat’s brand lift methodology), helped us explore the relationship between the weekly frequency of Snap Ads exposure and the level of brand impact, as measured by:
  • Ad breakthrough - the extent to which the ad campaign is noticed and recalled by the audience.
  • Action intent - the extent to which the ad campaign elicits the desired action, e.g. intention to make a purchase in the next 7 days or watch a newly released movie online.
We followed a two-stage approach. First, we estimated brand lift at different frequency thresholds for each study, adjusting for potential confounding factors. Then, we performed a multivariate random-effects meta-analysis to pool these results and estimate the average shape of the relationship between the weekly frequency threshold and brand lift, taking into account the correlation within and between studies.
What were the key results?
Here’s a look at some of our key findings:
  • Weekly frequency of Snap Ad exposure impacts the ability for an ad to break through. We found that the frequency of exposure was significantly related to the lift in ad breakthrough, with the most pronounced increases observed with up to a frequency of around 2 per week.
  • A lower weekly frequency is sufficient for longer campaigns. For campaigns running 5-12 weeks, we found a frequency of ~1 a week drove 75% of estimated ad breakthrough (Figure 1). Shorter campaigns of 1-4 weeks needed a higher frequency of ~2 per week to drive the same level of impact.
Figure 1: Total estimated cumulative lift (%) in ad breakthrough, by campaign length group
  • The frequency required for driving intent differs by vertical. For campaigns of 1-4 weeks in length, we examined CPG and entertainment advertisers separately; although we found no evidence of differences in ad breakthrough by vertical (Figure 2), we did observe differences in action intent (Figure 3). For short entertainment campaigns running 1-4 weeks, 75% of total potential lift was achieved with a frequency of ~2 per week. In contrast, CPG campaigns required a higher frequency of ~3 per week to drive the same impact.
Figure 2: Total estimated cumulative lift (%) in ad breakthrough, by advertiser vertical; campaigns 1-4 weeks in length
[Figure 3: Total cumulative lift (%) in action intent, by advertiser vertical; campaigns 1-4 weeks in length]
The set of mass marketing tools available to advertisers has changed over the past few decades; the relevance of foundational planning principles hasn’t. These data show the value of frequency planning on a relatively new digital advertising format like Snap Ads in Stories, including the need to consider the characteristics of the advertiser and the campaign when setting the required level of ad exposure.
The results here also show that while possible to drive some degree  of total brand impact—for breakthrough and intent alike—with relatively low levels of weekly frequency, advertisers might be sacrificing potential campaign lift by doing so. For media buyers, these findings have big implications for how they set their frequency levels to maximize the full potential of their ad campaigns, and thereby facilitate reach planning.
To learn more about the effect of frequency exposure for ads in Stories, download the full report.

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2Internal brand response data, Apr 2017 - May 2018; Snap Ads in Stories campaigns only