Striking the right balance between effective recall and not irritating customers with too many advertisements is challenging. This month’s issue of Admap, WARC’s monthly flagship report, asks, How much is too much? Ultimately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. But with the rise of ad blocking, this is an important issue that marketers must address.

Chris Sloane, senior partner at Gain Theory, charts the evolution of effective frequency to see what history can teach planners operating in today’s media environment. Sloane outlines the development of the frequency debate and shares new research on the effects of different frequency approaches. He urges media planners to understand the nuances of the campaign, the brand and the category in a flexible approach to optimal frequency.

In ‘The risks of over-exposure: how ad bombardment promotes consumer mistrust’, Mark Evans, Marketing Director, Direct Line Group notes, “there is a fine line between repeating a message to a consumer to ensure that it has landed with them and doing it to the point that it is downright annoying”. He cites research by Credos which found that repetition was explicitly linked to ad avoidance and blocking activities. Not only does the over-serving of ads undermine consumer trust it also creates significant wastage of spend leading Evans to call for ‘wastage cost’ as a KPI. The industry must rise to the frequency challenge because tackling the issue “will underpin sustainability in the long term with consumers” whose trust must be earned not just today, but continuously, he argues.

In ‘How to make sense of cross-platform measurement’, Sean Pinkney, Director of Data Science, Comscore presents research which details a sophisticated model to combine recency, frequency and interactive effects on campaigns across digital media including OTT, mobile apps and desktop. The research shows the intricate balance advertisers need to strike to optimise campaign effectiveness across impressions, time and platforms. “It’s not just about how much reach and frequency is optimal, but also about when, for how long, and, perhaps most importantly, the best way, to shift tactics during the campaign to optimise spend and ROI”, Pinkney points out.

Patrick Miller, Co-Founder and Sandy Welsch, Emerging Platforms Director, Flywheel Digital, provide guidelines for frequency capping on Amazon for the three main self-serve advertising products: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands and Amazon DSP.

Michael Chadwick, Chief Strategy Officer, Dentsu Asia-Pacific and Richard Frampton, Head of strategy, Asia Pacific, Carat, note that media fragmentation and new creative capabilities have made frequency a more difficult concept to grapple with, and thus a less favoured metric. They ask ‘Is it time to move on from frequency?’ and focus on the customer journey and customer experience instead.

Jennifer L. Burton, Jan Gollins, Linda McNeely and Danielle Wallis examine the link between advertising repetition and consumers’ purchase intentions. They question current advertising practices that suggest that anything more than 10 exposures is excessive.

According to Phil Sumner, Global Media Insights Director, Teads, there are no ‘golden rules’ for optimal frequency and that trying to establish ‘frequency nirvana’ is futile. “Responsible marketers should never get to the point where they’re messaging a consumer so frequently that it becomes irritating”, Sumner argues. He provides some broad considerations for marketers to consider when thinking about frequency one of which is to focus on the most efficient way to maximise reach.

In this Q&A, Max Jaffe, Managing Partner, Programmatic Practice Lead at GroupM, offers his advice on managing frequency for programmatic advertising. Jaffe reminds agencies and brands that when it comes to programmatic advertising, the details really matter, especially from a measurement and frequency enforcement perspective. Ask questions and push for facts around what can and cannot be done – don’t just act on assumptions. This will ensure everyone remains focused on positive results.

Jeff Meglio, Vice President of Agency Partnerships, Sovrn, discusses the role frequency capping can play in increasing efficiency and reducing consumer irritability. “The challenge for marketers is to find the right limit; the sweet spot where a consumer is exposed to an ad frequently enough for effective brand recall without over-sharing. The level of the cap must be adjusted depending on factors such as audience and timing, which requires continual monitoring and fine-tuning to achieve optimal results. Frequency capping is no short-term fix, but when properly implemented it brings long-term benefits”.

Sizmek’s Product Marketing Manager, Dhoreena Ventura, discusses AI’s role in frequency capping which offers one-to-one targeting, dynamic creative optimisation and frequency by user (as opposed to by campaign).

Find all the articles and a summary deck, here.