How do you tackle Frequency Management as we say farewell to third-party cookies?

Meaghan Lowth
By Meaghan Lowth | 21 March 2024
Meaghan Lowth.

Meaghan Lowth, Activation Manager at Omnicom Media Group.

Whilst the digital advertising landscape is forever moving at speed, we continue to say farewell to third-party cookies; there has been a 5% dip in user trackability on web browsers over the last 15 months alone. But what does this mean for marketers, in terms of limiting the number of times their ads are shown to the same person – which was previously easy to manage with third-party cookies?

There is no denying that frequency capping is critical to ensuring we remember a message or, on the other hand - irritating us beyond measure, when we see the same ad, time and time again.

Buying platforms such as DV360 and The Trade Desk are rolling out higher level frequency control measures, so it is becoming more common practice to push for advertiser or campaign-level frequency caps. This is as we see huge value in refining the frequency of a campaign, as it’s a big benefit of running activity programmatically. While these frequency controls do ensure we’re hitting the KPI, tracking this is equally important in campaign management.

Because of this, the question to ask now is: How accurate are the frequency reporting tools for giving us the full picture? And if they’re not super accurate, should we continue using them as a campaign KPI metric when we start to see less and less accuracy for tracking?

The advertising industry continues to advance in both consumer privacy and machine learning, both of which impact the accuracy of metrics and KPIs for awareness campaigns.

Google’s policies and tools are evolving, thanks to new Australian data privacy legislations and increased consumer privacy opt-out settings. This means that we are seeing increased gaps in frequency reporting when we optimise a campaign or analyse its success.

While the likes of Google and Meta are currently using modelling to bridge the gaps created by the depreciation of cookies, the accuracy is reliant on volume and a portion of the consumers opting in, which is becoming less guaranteed in a privacy-centric landscape. Further to this, these Walled Garden DSPs vary in their reporting methodology, especially across multi-touch digital campaigns, meaning it is becoming increasingly challenging to gain a full omnichannel picture.

Lower accuracy in reporting plus the reduced ability to manage frequency is making it very challenging to reach the ideal exposure for impact. This means setting frequency benchmarks is going to be far less realistic in the long-term.

We recommend instead of prioritising frequency as a goal, brands should use it as a secondary objective to ensure quality impressions are being captured for a campaign.

Reach and frequency targets still have their purpose in planning a campaign budget to ensure efficiency, a strong share of voice, ad-recall and avoiding creative fatigue. However, depending on the brand’s defined goals or business objectives and the media in use, we should explore more tangible metrics such as consumer ‘brand uplift’ surveys to understand the impact of a campaign and channel in the market.

Other methods such as first-party data suppression can also help limit creative fatigue, and help maintain an already-won audience, when frequency controls may fail.

When you buy an audience across a network, you can no longer tell how many times the same person has seen an ad.

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