Remarketing Frequency Capping & Membership Duration Testing

by Nick Supapol June 25th, 2015 

remarketing impression capping

I’m still amazed whenever I bring up retargeting to new clients and they have no clue what I’m talking about. That’s until I follow up with, “you know, the ads that stalk you everywhere you go.”

Without fail, they know exactly what I’m talking about.

If marketers and business owners associate remarketing with stalking, imagine what the average user thinks. No one likes a pushy or annoying salesman, so let’s all buckle up and make sure remarketing stays effective for all of us.

Even Google lets users provide feedback on ads, with one one of the options being ‘repetitive’.

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Imagine we had insight into the number of times our ads were flagged as ‘repetitive’ or ‘irrelevant’ and then had the ability to exclude those users from our lists? Maybe one day.

Remarketing is by no means a new tactic so there’s no good excuse for being sloppy with your strategy. Let’s start with the basics and then dive into some more ways to improve your remarketing approach – including how to determine the ideal impression frequency.

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Uploading a set of ads into AdWords, adding your Remarketing Audience and then calling it a day isn’t going to cut it anymore. As a PPC Account Manager, it’s up to you to control your remarketing campaigns, and please, I’m begging you, put some thought behind your approach.

Before you jump into frequency capping, be sure that your remarketing lists are as clean as possible.

Here’s a few things to consider excluding from the get go:

  • Past converters

If you are running a direct response campaign focusing on leads, once a user converts there is no need to keep them in your remarketing audience. If you are an ecommerce website, treat converters differently and hold on to this group for later.

  • Users who have bounced or spent less than 30 seconds on the site

Your remarketing audience is only as good as the members in the list. Just because a user hits your site doesn’t mean they’re valuable since the have “expressed interest” in your brand.

  • Low quality site categories

Exclude sites where you don’t want your ads to show. Keeping your brand top-of-mind is fine and dandy, but put yourselves in a user’s shoes. Stalking them while their checking the score of last night’s game might not be the best timing.

Now that the basics are covered, you can start experimenting with membership duration and impression capping.

Membership Duration

Remarketing membership duration will vary by brand and offering. A 30 day membership duration is the AdWords default, but that may not be the right length for your business. A good place to start is looking at your website analytics. You could take a peak at a Time Lag report to get an idea of your sales cycle and match your membership duration to that.

There are a few online opinions out there that suggest extending your membership duration to 3 times your sales cycle. I hope that if advertisers are doing that, they have a well thought out strategy to keep their offer and creative engaging.

Impression Capping

Every advertiser will have different needs.

  • If you’re a B2B company developing relationships, tone down the frequency of your ads and extend your member duration to align with your sales cycle
  • If you’re an ecommerce store pushing an amazing weekend sale, ramp up your frequency to get your ads seen more often

For either case, be sure to have multiple creative sets in rotation to keep shit fresh.

How Do You Determine The Optimal Frequency For Remarketing?

Well, AdWords has made this incredibly easy!

Simply run a Reach and Frequency report from the Dimensions tab and analyze the impact of Frequency on CTR and Conversion Rates.

Oh wait… they removed that feature and replaced it with a few Reach metrics, available only in the Campaigns view. And if you haven’t already noticed, they’re not that useful. So, here’s an idea:

Split Testing Your Remarketing Impression Caps With Perfect Control

Properly testing frequency capping should be done simultaneously to keep the quality of traffic as consistent as possible. Setting your frequency cap to 15 per day for one month and then dropping it down to 8 the month after won’t give you clean results. There are too many factors that can influence the results.

Steps for a true Impression Cap split test:

  1. Create 2 variations of the same webpage, each with a unique URL.
  2. Rotate traffic to the pages evenly. You can leverage PPC landing pages or natural links within your site.
  3. Create 2 remarketing lists with the unique URLs to gather your lists.
  4. Create 2 campaigns and apply a list to each.
  5. Experiment with varying frequency caps and membership durations.

For websites with more traffic, create multiple page variants and remarketing lists to experiment even more.

Now Read

Nick Supapol

Nick Supapol is Paid Search Strategy Lead (and consistently ranked #1 ping-pong player) at Search Engine People, specializing in Travel, Consumer Goods and Business-to-Business.

Remarketing Frequency Capping & Membership Duration Testing

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