Clients are always asking us, “how long should I run my digital ads?” The answer, of course, is that it all depends.

Every ad has a different set of factors that determine its digital wear-out, or the point where its effectiveness starts to decline due to tapped-out levels of exposure. This POV will help you understand how digital wear-out happens and learn best practices to get the most value possible out of your ads.

Brand vs. Response: Which Type of Ad Does Wear-Out Impact More?

Before we discuss best practices to avoid digital wear-out, you should know whether it impacts your objectives. Is your campaign trying to generate broad-based awareness or garner response via direct calls-to-action?

Generally speaking, brand campaigns are strengthened with exposure. The objective is to earn space in the consumer’s mindshare, so even if repeated impressions are less impactful than the first, at the very least, they’re still reminding the consumer of the brand.

Direct response campaigns are different. Ads that are overexposed tend to get noticed less by consumers, which is detrimental to the task of sparking clicks and conversions.

Best Practices to Keep Ads Fresh and Consumers Clicking

Check your frequency. According to Bob Arnold, the North American Digital Media and Strategy Lead at Google, the optimal ad frequency is between three and nine exposures per month. This can be managed at a unique user level through ad serving platforms that can monitor frequency across buys, including exchange-based and directly bought campaigns. Additionally, frequency capping within and across ad networks can significantly boost effectiveness by limiting the number of times a prospect is exposed to your ad.

Pick the right rotation. A great way to optimize ad effectiveness is by basing your ad rotation selection on the tactics your ads will appear in. For example, if you’re running ads on social media, where consumers are checking in multiple times per day, you’ll want to select a rotation with high frequency.

Always test. Digital ads are unique in that they provide advertisers with the ability to learn as they go. A/B testing both messaging and layouts is the best way to ensure you’re presenting your audience with the most relevant and impactful ads.

Write compelling copy. Clear, concise, and hard-working copy makes for the most clicks. Write copy with a clear strategy in mind, and make sure it clearly communicates the problem that your product will solve for your audience. If you’re speaking to multiple audiences that may gravitate toward different benefits of your product, write messaging specifically to each. Also, be sure your message communicates quickly—like an online billboard—and that the call-to-action lets users know where you’ll be taking them before they click.

Use seasons to your advantage. Seasonality creates fresh wants and needs for consumers, and fresh opportunities for you to capitalize on them. Develop a cadence for updating your product categories, inventory, and promotion based on season, and adapt keywords, ad text, and landing pages to match.

How to Be on the Lookout for Wear-Out

Tracking the following metrics can help you identify digital wear-out as it happens.

Click-thru rate. If you’re delivering a disproportionate amount of impressions that aren’t getting clicked through, you may have hit the wear-out wall.

Cost per action. Compare the cost of advertising versus the number of offer claims, link clicks, app installs, and page likes it generates. If your ads aren’t driving action, it may be time to adjust.

Engagement metrics. Is your website bringing in unique visitors? And how much time are they spending on the site? Knowing the answers to these questions can give you a sense of how impactful your ad is, and how much continuity there is between your ad and landing page.

The Bottom Line

Every ad has a shelf life. Thankfully, digital tools give advertisers the unique ability to detect wear-out, and adjust accordingly. By testing messages, tracking results, and optimizing regularly, you can minimize the impact of digital wear-out and get the most value possible out of your digital media buys.

Kellyn Smola
Kellyn Smola

Media Buyer

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