DigitalFeaturedOpinionPartner content

Reach vs frequency

While running an upper funnel campaign reach and frequency has been debated for a long time.

However, most tools have fallen short of helping with the issue. It is a well known fact that the frequency caps on DSPs do not work. Let’s dive into the matter in detail.

How frequency capping optimises your programmatic advertising ROI

It’s all about mastering the art of being “just right”, setting up the right frequency of your ad in the programmatic advertising platforms.

It’s pretty much the Goldilocks rule of programmatic advertising, ‘Not too few, not too many’. Frequency capping in programmatic makes sure the advertisers achieve the balance between reach and frequency.

The programmatic ads are growing and evolving at a rapid pace in the Middle East region. For instance, in the UAE by 2028, 76% of the digital ad revenue is generated via programmatic ads.

Why programmatic advertising needs frequency capping

Minimum cuts to make maximum damage. Frequency caps ensure that you get maximum impact with set frequency cap and not overkill with F-cap violations.

Programmatic advertising is a powerful way of automated buying of ad space and effective targeting, but overexposure is the major pitfall that can not only cause ad fatigue, but also leads to wastage of ad spend and damage brand reputation.

Reach vs Frequency

A branding campaign’s objective is to reach out to maximum people and spread the branding message. What publishers do is show the ad to a smaller audience multiple times to exhaust ad spends, thereby impacting the main objective of the branding campaign which is reach.

Brands often define their Frequency Ad Caps, but these are not adhered to by the Ad Servers and Platforms. They end up compromising on reach to show performance!

Therefore, monitoring and enforcing an F-Cap becomes paramount.

Are your ads getting served to the same audience too many times?

A significant number of impressions served on a few devices, OTT environments and other mobile app-based placements affect the ad campaign’s effectiveness.

An F-cap monitoring system will ensure no overexposure and you are making payout for ads reaching a wider audience.

Monitoring frequency capping violations can not only enhance campaign performance but also instill trust in the audience.

Deception of F-cap measurement

Marketers have relied on Ad Servers for accurate frequency measurement.

In a cookie less ecosystem the shift needs to be made on measurement with more efficacy, more elusive identifiers like Device ID (Google Advertising ID or IDFA) which can be triggered by the publisher platforms (apps and OTTs).

For instance, an ad campaign on a Leading OTT player for a leading meat and seafood brand. 76.70 per cent of the impressions were violating FCAP thresholds! Roughly half of the consumers saw the campaign much more than the required frequency.

As the campaign went on longer, the FCAP violation keeps increasing.

Within 11 days it was 76.62% and in the second part of the campaign, it increased to 83.82% in just 3 days [Ref. Fig:1.0].

Lower control on FCAPs and the campaign ends up reaching the same set of audience multiple times, end result – high impression – Low reach and low ROI.


Fig:1.0: F-CAP violations on a LEADING OTT player for a leading meat and seafood brand.

The impact of ad frequency cap violations

Don’t bombard, Be remembered! Frequency capping sets a limit on how often a user sees the same ad within a specific timeframe.

But what happens when those caps are broken?  

  • Wasted ad spend Is the viewer seeing your ad multiple times in a single day? While initial exposure might raise brand awareness, overexposure leads to ad fatigue.
  • Ineffective ROIF-Cap violations make Ad ineffective; viewers start ignoring your message and it led to a steep decline in campaign ROI.
  • Ad bombardment can backfire Users might perceive the brand as intrusive or desperate, potentially damaging brand image and leading to brand aversion.
  • Hit the “sweet spot” for ad frequency Going beyond this sweet spot say 3 times. Viewers become less likely to click on the ad or take desired actions (conversions), hindering campaign goals and thereby reducing Click-Through Rates (CTR) and Conversions.

What should brand and advertisers do to prevent F-Cap Violations?

By Preventing the frequency cap violations, advertisers can ensure their message reaches the right audience. Ultimately, striking the right balance.

Start with choosing frequency cap violations monitoring solution such as mFilterIt Valid8 that offers robust frequency capping violations tracking and balances reach vs frequency.

Implement Universal frequency fapping to ensure that frequency capping is applied consistently across all channels. Start cross-device tracking to manage ad frequency across multiple devices, ensuring a user isn’t bombarded with the same ad on different devices.

Real-time reporting and regular monitoring of ad performance and frequency capping settings identify any deviations or potential violations promptly.

Take measures to safeguard your programmatic advertising from invalid ad traffic, device frauds, fraudulent clicks, and impressions.

Clean traffic with ad fraud prevention will ensure you are protected across the funnel and bots are not generating impressions or viewing your ads.

Ensure you reach a genuine audience. Set Realistic F-Caps to determine an appropriate frequency cap that balances exposure and user experience. Avoid setting caps that are too high, which can lead to ad fatigue.

Advertisers must leverage First-Party Data to have better control over ad delivery and frequency capping with regular Audits and Compliance Checks of their campaigns to ensure adherence to frequency caps.

By implementing these strategies, brands and advertisers can effectively prevent F-Cap violations, improve user experience, and maximize the efficiency of their advertising campaigns.


Frequency Cap violations need to be acknowledged as a genuine issue in the digital ecosystem. It all begins with invalid traffic, Bots rotating device IDs and cookies to trick the ad servers into serving more ads to the bot.

Frequency Capping intelligence can safeguard against overexposure, preventing users from being bombarded with the same ads.

Talk to us at mFilterIt to know more.