Determining effective frequency and creative wearout

Industry: Sports Apparel | Market: Canada

Background Challenge

Tight media budgets – combined with a fragmented media landscape where consumer attention is split across platforms and screens – demand that marketers use resources efficiently to drive advertising effectiveness. One of the more perplexing questions facing marketers concerns the optimal number of times an ad should be shown in a given timeframe. Frequency capping is a sure fire way to ensure the efficient delivery of media and advertising, but in a broadcast setting (that is, not interactive), this has been virtually impossible to measure with any precision. And its further complicated by the type of message: What’s the optimal frequency for a branding message, which has the aim of cementing perceptions versus a direct response message, which seeks to drive an immediate behaviour (purchase, call, etc)? Traditional approaches to determining effective frequency are generally estimates, with a 3+ frequency typically the rule of thumb in television. But brainsights’ work has already revealed that ad effectiveness is dependent on both the quality of creative and the context in which it is consumed. With such a range of quality, and a growing multitude of contexts – screens, content formats, etc – this rule of thumb is out of date.


Brainsights took a radically different approach: more than 300 adults were organized into 13 groups, with each group watching 60 minutes of video content in a naturalistic content consumption environment whilst hooked up to brainsights audience measurement platform.
A range of tv ads were tested with various frequencies and sequences to help our client understand the optimal frequency for each of their ads within a selection of possible content environments.
Mining this brain data for the primarily branding messages under question, Brainsights revealed the actual optimal frequency for each spot – understanding both creative strength and the impact of content environment on the question of frequency.

Findings and Results

Brainsights uncovered opportunities to optimize its client’s video media effectiveness of by 33-55% depending on the specific ad and environment combination. Some ads faired best with one exposure/hour, whereas others needed two or three depending on the environment. In total, brainsights’ findings revealed opportunities worth approximately $1 million in efficient media and creative deployment.