Reach, frequency, impressions: the three factors behind great ads

Holly Locastro


March 4, 2022

You often hear about reach, frequency and impressions when talking about the performance of your digital marketing campaigns – and specifically, your social media ads.

Not having enough of one (or all) of these might be the reason your marketing isn’t working.

But what are they? And how can you make sure you’re hitting all of the right numbers?

Let’s go in-depth into tracking digital marketing performance. In this article we’ll take a look at each of these terms and help you understand how to track and improve them in a meaningful way.

Did you know?

These terms mostly apply to paid marketing, rather than organic (free) content – and in this post we’re specifically, talking about Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram ads. Some (but not all) of these concepts will also apply to your organic posts.

What do reach, frequency and impressions mean? 

Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Reach: how many unique people see your ad
  • Frequency: how many times those people see your ad
  • Impressions: total views on your ad or piece of content

For example, if your reach is 100, and your impressions are 200, you can assume everyone saw it twice (for a frequency of two).

How can I see my reach, frequency and impressions?

This depends on the platform you’re publishing on. Generally you’ll have a ‘back end’ with all of your analytics – this will be where your reach, frequency and impressions numbers will be hiding. But not all platforms will give you all three numbers – you may need to do some of your own maths.

For example: Facebook and Instagram give you reach and impressions on your organic posts, but LinkedIn only shows impressions. On the paid side, Facebook and LinkedIn both give you the frequency numbers, so you don’t have to try and figure it out for yourself.

It’s best to check each platform’s reporting capabilities and take a look at what each metric means, as it often differs.

How can I improve my reach, frequency and impressions?

To optimise reach

Create different ads to suit different ‘slices’ of your audience. For example, you can have a remarketing campaign for audiences who have already seen your products, and a general campaign for each of your customer avatars. Each campaign should have its own ad with unique copy and visuals. To see results, they need to be fair-sized audiences with a decent budget – so start with one and expand if needed.

Try to create content that speaks to each of your audiences both collectively and individually. You can boost these posts to specific audiences that match.

To optimise frequency

As a rule, we like the frequency to be between 2 and 5. Any less and your message doesn’t sink in – any more and it becomes oversaturated and repetitive.

Optimising frequency for paid ads mostly comes from budget optimisation. If you pay more money, you can get in front of your audience more often. To reduce your frequency, simply reduce the budget. If you don’t have the budget but you’d still like to increase the frequency, you can try reducing your audience size.

When adjusting budgets, the best approach is to go slow. Bring it down or up by a few dollars a day and see how it goes – don’t drastically slash or double your budget or your results may suffer!

To optimise impressions

Impressions are usually more up-to-date figures, so you can look at them everyday to get a sense of how your campaign is performing. For example, if your ad has been running for a day or two and has few to no impressions, it means there could be something wrong with your campaign – your audience might be too small, or your ad might be getting penalised because of its copy or imagery.

Brand awareness campaigns can focus on impressions – the objective is to reach a wider audience and get the name out far and wide. However, you also want to combine impressions with your frequency metrics to make sure the message sticks.

Let’s talk!

Already know what you need? Or just want to kick things off with some advice? Schedule a free video consultation with TMP founder, Holly.
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