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Achieve Harmony in Your CTV Reach and Frequency

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The Swedish term “lagom” doesn’t have a direct English equivalent, but roughly translates to “just the right amount.” It’s a mentality of balance that’s lauded across cultures as a favorable approach to nearly anything. 

Just look at the durability of the yin yang sign. ☯︎

Advertisers tasked with running campaigns are likely to experience a multitude of balancing acts in their day-to-day work. There are tons of creative and strategic decisions–and the added pressure of a crowded and increasingly fragmented media landscape.

One area that especially demands an even-keeled approach is reach and frequency. Left unchecked, reach and frequency can quickly damage the impact of your ad campaigns across the board. And with the rapid growth of CTV, advertisers can’t afford to slack on these measures.

Before we get into how you can achieve optimal reach and frequency, let’s walk through what it is and why you’re hearing more about reach and frequency concerns. 

What is reach and frequency? 

We’ll start with the basics–a clear definition of reach and frequency. 

Reach refers to the number of people or households that could be exposed to an ad. An important distinction is that reach isn’t the precise number of viewers who have actually seen your ad. Rather, it’s the number of people who are likely to see it because they have access (i.e. are watching media where the ad is shown).

For viewers, frequency is the amount of times they are exposed to a specific ad. For advertisers, frequency is the number of times their ads repeat over a set amount of time. High frequency can be enticing to get your creative out there and drill that messaging home. But too much frequency likely indicates overexposure, and therefore ad fatigue. (As viewers, can’t we all identify with that unpleasant feeling of seeing the same ad constantly?) Not to mention, high frequency can be expensive.

Naturally, advertisers desire sizable reach and the most impactful frequency - and the balance of the two need to be consistently measured and then optimized.

Why is CTV reach and frequency more worrisome?

CTV reach and frequency concerns are rooted in two primary causes.

The first is identifiers. During programmatic exchanges, buyers and sellers transact off common identifiers which are linked to email addresses. Thereafter, they match an email list to a CTV audience. This flow gets muddled when households, or even individual household members, have more than one email address. That means a group of emails may be overlooked as a household—or even a single person.

The second is a lack of a unified ID for measurement. With fragmented streaming apps, a buyer is compelled to have discrepancies amongst their publisher and platform identifiers.

At the core of these technical hurdles is the continued reliance on applying old methods to a still maturing channel. And in both cases, the end result is over served ads.

Tactics for balancing reach and frequency 

Fortunately, there are proven strategies to keep CTV reach and frequency in line. Below is a list of commonly used ones.

Method 1: Frequency capping 

Frequency capping is a tactic that limits the amount of times your ad is shown to the same person. Meaning, you set parameters around the amount of impressions per individual over a specified period of time (day, month, etc).

Method 2: Sequential messaging 

Sequential messaging refers to an ad campaign with a predetermined sequence of ad sets that  moves viewers through an intended “storyline.” This helps moderate frequency because there multiple creatives build up to an overall message and single CTA.

Method 3: Distributing campaigns over long periods of time

Slow and steady wins the race–well, sometimes. When you set your ad distribution to a longer time span, you can easily alleviate an oversaturation problem. Yet, that also assumes the advertiser has additional time to spare.

Method 4: Test and amend 

Advertisers can also try experimentation via altering several factors such as various times, frequency rates, platforms, creative versions, and channels. Testing can be effective because it acknowledges the change in consumer behavior over time and increases exposure to new markets.

Innovid’s perspective 

Reach and frequency are crucial to keep tabs on. Still, keep in mind there’s a lot of buzz but not much bite about CTV ad overexposure. How do we know? We did the research!

In our 2021 benchmarks report, Innovid found that U.S. CTV campaigns reached on average only 9.23% of the 95M+ CTV households that Innovid reaches, with an average of 4.08 exposures. Meaning, there’s still plenty of runway when it comes to reach, and the risk of overfrequency isn’t a major threat.

Much of your reach and frequency governance also comes down to the ad server and measurement tools you’re using. With a sophisticated measurement solution like InnovidXP, advertisers are empowered with unified measurement across all channels and platforms–even walled gardens.

So, our advice? Take advantage of CTV now. Just make sure you have a healthy plan in place to monitor your reach and frequency.