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How to Set Frequency Capping in Google Ad Manager?

Frequency Capping Ad Manager
As a publisher, you need to limit the number of times a user is exposed to an ad creative and Google Ad Manager allows you to set frequency caps at three levels.

Do you ever wonder if your visitors are subjected to watch the same ads from an advertiser over and over again? Retargeting the visitors is good for advertisers as it helps them to increase their Return-on-Investment (ROI). But, what’s the use of showing the same ad if the visitor didn’t interact with it in the first 2-3 times?

The situation gets worse when the ads are pop-ups or interstitials. Imagine yourself as a visitor who came to a website to read the content. But, instead of allowing you to do so, you’re unexpectedly coming across the same ad within 10 minutes. Would you like to continue reading and ever come back to the website?

We don’t think so. Repeating the same ads not only results in bad user experience, but it is also a waste of ad spending for advertisers. So, why not stop serving the same ads for a visitor? Thinking if this is even possible?

Yes, it is possible via Frequency Capping. The process enables a publisher to limit the number of ads served to a given user. Let’s find out what it is in detail and how it works in Google Ad Manager.

Table of Content:

What is Frequency Capping?

Frequency capping is a technique that limits the number of times a line item can be served to a visitor within a given time period. When you set a frequency cap for your display or video ads, you set a threshold for impressions to be served to an individual in a day, week, month, or any other combination. The ads stop being displayed once they reach the capping threshold.

Frequency Capping in Google Ad Manager

In Google Ad Manager, Frequency capping uses various identifiers such as Publisher Provided IDs (PPIDs), browser cookies as well as IDFA, AdIDs, etc. These IDs are set by the Ad Manager on the publisher’s website to determine how visitors interact with the ads on different pages. Let’s understand this in terms of ad server terminologies.

Suppose you have a line item and you want it to deliver ads 5 times a day to a user X. So, the ad server will identify X via cookies or other identifiers, and it will display the ad creatives from the line item for 5 times. However, as soon as the X reaches the frequency cap, the line item will no longer be eligible for delivering the ads.

Frequency capping can be applied to different levels i.e.

  • Line item level,
  • Ad creative level, and
  • Specific Ad unit level or across the ad network.

When you enable the frequency capping for either of the levels or a combination of these levels, the most restrictive frequency cap is applied to the line item. 

Let’s say, a line item has a limit of10 impressions per day per user and it has a creative that is labeled as “Pop-up” and can only serve 7 impressions per day per user. But the ad unit that is targeted by the line item has 1 impression per day per user. In such a case, the line item will only serve once a day. 

How to Set Frequency Capping in Google Ad Manager?

To apply set Frequency cap for line items, follow the sequence of given steps:

Frequency capping for line items:

  • Go to the Google Ad Manager homepage. Click Delivery > Orders and select the order.
  • Use filters to find the desired line item where you want to set the frequency cap.
  • Select the line item and scroll to Adjust delivery and select Set per user Frequency cap under Frequency.

Frequency Capping in Google Ad Manager

  • Enter the maximum number of impressions per user and specify the time period to set how often the frequency cap will be reached. 
  • Add the additional details for frequency caps as required. And at last, Save the settings.

Frequency capping for ad units:

Follow the below steps to apply frequency caps at specific ad units level:

  1. Go to the Google Ad Manager homepage. Click Inventory > Ad units.
  2. Enter the ad unit’s name to open its settings.
  3. Tick the boxes next to Set ad unit frequency caps. Select the required ad units and enter a maximum number of impressions per user and how often the cap will be reached. And save the setting.

The same process has to be done if you are looking for applying frequency capping across all the ad units. There is just one minor change in selection i.e. in the Inventory tab, instead of selecting Ad units, select Network settings. Frequency capping will now be applied to all the ad units across the network.

Frequency capping for ad creatives:

For an ad creative, you need to first create a label* and then set the frequency caps as you did for the ad units. Once you set a frequency cap for the label, you should assign the label to the creatives. 

So, all the creatives with the frequency cap label will have the frequency capping set. It’s a two-step process. 

Step 1: Follow the given steps to define a label in Google Ad Manager:

  • In Google Ad Manager home page, click Admin > Inventory > Labels. Now, click New label and give a name to it.

add a new label

  • Select the Type of label. You can select ‘Ad unit frequency cap’ as the type. 

Ad Manager label

  • Save the setting.

*Label is nothing but a way to group a particular category of ads/creatives and use it for various purposes. This guide from Google will help you to understand the concept in detail.

Once you define the label, you need to select the ad unit that is associated with the ad creative (for which you want to apply frequency capping). You can find an option “Set label frequency caps” where you can include the label you created in the previous step and set the frequency caps as required.

frequency caps for ad creatives

Note: There is no limit to adding labels. You can add as many as labels as you want, and apply frequency cap to each of them.

Step 2: Associating the label with the ad creatives. 

Select the ad creative you want to set a frequency cap for, then click edit, and scroll down to “Advanced Settings” where you can select the label. 

Once you have selected the label and saved the creative, you’re all set. 

Add label to ad creative

Though Google Ad Manager provides you the flexibility to frequency cap line items or creatives, it has a few system limits that need to be followed if you don’t want to pay extra dollars. 

How to Use Ad Manager Report to Optimally Set Frequency Cap?

Since frequency capping affects the availability of ad impressions to a line item, you should know how line items are delivering ahead of time. In this, Google Ad Manager’s Reach Report is something that helps a lot.

To be precise, the report gives an overview of the number of unique visitors exposed to different advertisers, line items, orders, or even ad units in the Google Ad Manager network.

Here are the steps that will help you to schedule a Reach report in the ad server:

  1. In the Google Ad Manager home page, click Reporting > Reports and New report.
  2. Then, fill the basic details for the report and select the type as Reach.
  3. Select the Dimensions* Line items or Order. In the metrics, select Total unique visitors, Total reach impressions, and Average impressions/unique visitor.
  4. Schedule the report and click Run.

*Country as a dimension is required because the Reach report is not available across all countries. Also, the report is accessible for Google Ad Manager 360 publishers. So, if you are having the free version, you need to get it enabled by your Google Account Manager to use the report.

Conclusion

It has been proved in various surveys that a user who was shown an ad once a week gives higher CTRs than the ads served to the same user more than 10 times a day. And the higher CTR you get, the higher revenue you generate. While these figures aren’t universal, it is pretty understood that frequency caps have a meaningful impact on the ad revenue. Still have a doubt? Let us know in the comments.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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