Snapchat Publishes New Report on Optimal Ad Frequency to Drive Recall and Action


How many times do you need a Snapchat user to see your business’ ads in order to drive action?

There’s obviously no definitive answer here, as each audience is different, but it is an important consideration on Snapchat, in particular, because Snapchat’s audience is not overly welcoming of ads, especially within their Stories stream.

Ideally, you want to show Snap users just enough of your ads to pique their interest, but not enough to annoy them. Brands are able to control their ad exposure frequency with Snap’s ‘Reach and Frequency’ options (available in most regions) within their campaign set-up. 

So how many ad exposures should you be aiming for? That’s the focus of Snap’s latest research report.

As explained by Snapchat:

“What advertisers want from their marketing campaigns is effective reach, for their target audience to see their message enough times for it to have the desired impact. But how many times is enough? In a world of finite budgets, if the frequency of exposure is too high, reach will be sacrificed, if it’s too low the campaign’s impact may be sub-optimal.”

In order to determine the optimal ad exposure frequency, Snapchat analyzed 103 brand measurement campaigns, which consisted exclusively of Snap Ads in Stories. The campaigns ran between April 2017 and May 2018, with 75% of them running in the US, and 12% in the UK.

Snap’s key finding? 

“Frequency of exposure affects the lift in ad breakthrough, with sharp and steady increases in lift with increasing exposures, up to around a frequency of two per week, after which only modest gains in lift were observed.”

Snap ad research report

Optional Caption

In other words, you’ll significantly improve your chances of your audience recalling your ad, and causing a change in their behavior, if you target them with two ads per week in Snapchat Stories. Any more than that, and the gains are not significant – you could blanket them with four or more repeats of your ad, which, as you can see in the chart, saw no negative impact. But the data also shows that the impact is most keenly observed at a frequency of just two exposures to your messaging each week.

That’s a somewhat odd finding for Snap to share – obviously, it’s to the company’s benefit to push advertisers to spend more, but then again, the relative user impact, in annoyance, is another key element Snap needs to consider. This frequency likely works best on both fronts – and it makes sense, from a general user perspective.

Even more, Snap’s research found that:

For campaigns running 5-12 weeks, we found a frequency of ~1 a week drove 75% of estimated ad breakthrough. Shorter campaigns of 1-4 weeks needed a higher frequency of ~2 per week to drive the same level of impact.” 

Snapchat ad research [graph]

Optional Caption

So, if you run a longer campaign, fewer ads per week works for recall, but shorter campaigns need more frequency. Again, that makes sense, but it is interesting to note, and to factor into your planning.

In summarizing their findings, Snapchat notes that:

The results here also show that while possible to drive some degree of total brand impact – for breakthrough and intent alike – with relatively low levels of weekly frequency, advertisers might be sacrificing potential campaign lift by doing so.” 

Yet, the optimal frequency is not crazy high – the research shows that planned, targeted exposure, capped at around two per week, is the average, most effective range. 

You can read Snapchat’s full ‘Value of Frequency Planning for Ads in Stories’ report here.