Originally published: Mumbrella, 5 July 2022
Authored by: Ernest Lo, Programmatic Operations Lead – Pure.amplify
Ad repetition is traditionally a tactic that helps keep a brand top of mind and leaves a lasting impression on a consumer.
It can help consumers remember messaging and enhance recall at the point of purchase.
In moderation, ad repetition has a positive effect on product familiarity; with the popular marketing “rule of seven” dictating that a potential customer needs to be exposed to the brand message seven times before taking action (or purchasing) a product.
However, there comes a point where ad repetition becomes redundant and seeing the same ad too many times can compromise a consumer’s viewing experience and brand association.
Why ad repetition should be monitored
The average person is not only estimated to see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day, but they also often come across the same repeated ads, which can both result in ad fatigue and annoyance. At a recent Future of TV Advertising Conference, Lucinda Barlow, Director of Marketing for Uber mentioned that she was served the same ad repeatedly while watching the Australian Open on a free-to-air BVOD platform. Her ad experience was so bad that she questioned if it was an effort to drive audiences back to the free to air channel.
Copious ad repetition can not only happen on a single platform but also across multiple platforms. Consumers often engage with multiple services across linear television, BVOD, AVOD and CTV and they are more susceptible to seeing the same ad across these platforms. This too can cause annoyance and ad fatigue, creating a frustrating ad experience.
Why advertisers need to hit the right frequency of ad repetition
Ads often end up reaching the same people over and over again instead of being viewed by a wide, carefully selected audience, as advertisers intended. Research and advertising dollars are used ineffectively in these instances, with some of an ad’s target audience suffering through a negative ad experience, while others never see the ad at all.
In a recent study by LG ads, it was revealed that brands can end up assigning over half of their campaign spend to reach just 10% for the total audience available. That disparity is staggering and as marketers, we need to ensure that every advertising dollar is working hard to produce the desired results.
So how can advertisers improve the situation?
1. Put time limits on how often an ad appears
One way to determine how often an ad should appear is to look at whether it is a high involvement or low involvement ad situation. For example, daily consumer goods such as food, cleaning products, and household utensils benefit from higher repetition as consumers are generally less involved in the ad. As a result, ads can be adjusted to repeat more often. Likewise, if consumers are highly involved in their future purchase, they would need fewer exposures because the repetition could have a negative impact sooner.
2. Unify data and break down silos
The increasing fragmentation of the streaming industry requires a different system of measuring viewership and targeting ads. One way advertisers can remedy fragmentation is by adopting technology that unifies different streams (data silos) where ads appear. When data silos are unified across all streams, advertisers can better manage the frequency and maximise the reach of ads.
Select digital advertising platforms also offer frequency capping solutions to overcome excessive repetition. This is particularly important for campaigns that are run across multiple channels, where the risk of excessive ad repetition is highest. When applied holistically across digital channels and publisher networks, automated frequency capping ensures that audiences are never over-exposed to any particular campaign. Regardless of whether the campaign is delivered across display, search, social, BVOD or digital audio or any mix of the above, unnecessary impressions are blocked ahead of time.
3. Change up the creative
Simply rotating through different versions of the same ad can help reduce ad fatigue. Many marketers do not create multiple versions of a campaign, but this is something that can be easily addressed at the campaign planning stage to combat ad frustration.
Experimenting with other kinds of ad formats, such as interactive ads, is another way to mix it up and create a more diverse viewer experience. Streaming service, Hulu, did this by incorporating binge ads into their platform a few years ago. This ad format utilises machine learning to predict when a viewer has begun to binge a show, then serves up contextually relevant ads. When the viewer reaches the third episode, they’re informed the next episode is ad-free or presents a personalised offer from a brand.
Clearly, this is not the end of ad repetition. Even with the detrimental effects of ad fatigue, a consumer’s need for a product will override a poor ad viewing experience, according to Dr Melissa Weinberg, associate professor at the Institute for Social Neuroscience. Studies also show that time can reverse “ad wearout” – the negative effect of frequent advertising repetition on brand preference.
However, if advertisers do not finesse the balance of ad repetition, they risk wasting valuable advertising and targeting dollars and potentially harming their brand reputation. At best, over-exposure results in diminishing returns, and at worst, it results in negative sentiment which may be hard to turn around.