Splitting Heavy and Light TV Viewers—The Case for Frequency Capping

26 November 2013 | Blog

In an Ad Age post “Fixing Ad Repetition: Let’s Split the Stream to Heavy and Light TV Viewers”, Robert Norcross brings up the issue of overexposure for heavy TV viewers. He notes:

The third of the audience that watches the most TV accounts for about two-thirds of all ad impressions, and they frequently see ads far more often than advertisers need or want them to. My analysis shows that for a typical ad campaign with an effective reach of 60%, the top third of TV viewers is shown ads at an average rate over three times greater than the advertiser’s targeted ad frequency.

We found similar issues in our own Big Data STB study earlier this year. The top and top two quintiles, when viewers are grouped based on the amount of daily time spent watching TV, account for 47% and 72% of all TV viewing respectively. For the lower quintiles, increasing the frequency increased the conversion rates. But for the top quintile, the average conversion actually declined, despite reaching a much higher frequency. The heaviest TV viewers receive a dramatically higher frequency, which causes wear-out and makes the ads less effective. The lightest viewers receive an insufficient frequency to be properly effective, either.

Norcross’s demand is for a way to detangle the light from the heavy viewers. Fortunately, today this is possible through frequency capping. In household addressable TV ad campaigns, advertisers can set a cap on the frequency of specific ad exposures any given household receives during a campaign. After the ad has been shown the designated number of times, a new ad can be rotated in, preventing wear-out. Lighter viewers get more opportunities to see the ads without overtaxing heavy viewers. Inventory becomes more valuable for inventory holders and more effective for advertisers. And no one has to watch the same ad for the fortieth time.