Facebook Reach and Frequency Buying Guide

Facebook Reach and Frequency Buying – The Complete Guide


To run successful brand campaigns on Facebook, you need to reach a large enough portion of your target audience and reach them just often enough to create impact. Facebook Reach and Frequency Buying helps you to provide highly predictable delivery of ads with frequency capping and sequencing controls.

What is Facebook Reach and Frequency Buying?

Reach and frequency buying on Facebook and Instagram delivers accurate and predictable media planning and delivery features that allow you to control who sees your message and how many times they see it, helping you build maximum brand impact.

Some of the core capabilities of Facebook Reach and Frequency Buying are:

  • Flexibility on targeting and buy size
  • Predictable delivery of impressions and reach
  • Efficient pricing for advertisers (Cost per Mille CPM)
  • Controlled delivery to real people

Facebook Reach and frequency campaigns are not guaranteed, but they represent the best prediction of how a campaign will perform. It is possible, although rare, for reach and frequency campaigns to fall short of predicted delivery. This is because it is Facebook’s best prediction of what the outcome of the campaign will be. According to Facebook, historically, 97% of Facebook Reach & Frequency Campaigns have delivered within 5% of predicted reach & impressions.

Predicted Reach & CPM depend on many factors including:

  • Target audience
  • Flighting – schedule of dates for the campaign
  • Placements – Whether you are showing ads Facebook or Instagram
  • Frequency cap – Number of impressions capped per person for a duration
  • Creative type – video ad, Canvas, single image etc.
  • Campaign Objective – Brand Awareness, Reach, Traffic, App Downloads etc.
  • Budget
  • Predicted login behavior by users
  •  Competition – Other advertisers’ reservations against the same audience
  • Whether or not you have overlapping campaigns against the same target audience
  • Whether you have a lift study holdout – If so, your reach will be diminished because some people won’t receive your ads (the control group)
  • Creative quality, which is a mix of signals including positive engagement and negative feedback your ads received in the past 90 days


When should you use Facebook’s Reach & Frequency Buying option?

Reach and frequency can be a good fit if you want to:

  • Accurately predict the reach, frequency, and cost of your brand campaigns.
  • Extend the reach of your TV campaigns onto Facebook and Instagram. For e.g. During the Super Bowl season in USA or IPL Season in India, you might want to promote your TV commercial on Facebook targeting an entirely different audience set.
  • Plan and book your campaigns in advance – To avoid overpaying for impressions or clicks during festive seasons, you might want to pre-book / block inventory on Facebook and Instragram. Ad inventory booked via Reach and Frequency campaigns gets precedence over Auction campaign bids.
  • Tell your brand’s story and deliver your message to people in a sequenced way – For e.g. You want consumers to watch video ads / commercials in a sequence to build suspense or introduce your product / service in a sequenced manner.
  • Deliver ads across devices – Reach and frequency supports ad delivery on mobile and desktops.


Auction Buying vs. Reach & Frequency Buying

Most advertisers use Facebook’s Auction Buying model for campaigns. According to Facebook: For each ad impression, our ad auction system selects the best ads to run based on the ads’ maximum bids and ad performance. All ads on Facebook compete against each other in this process, and the ads that our system determines are most likely to be successful will win the auction.

The Facebook Reach and Frequency Buying option is not available to all advertisers. Here is the difference between R&F Buying and Auction buying on Facebook:

Frequency Controls
Auction: Frequency controls are only available for brand awareness and reach campaign objectives

R&F: Allows a flexible frequency cap for any interval e.g. “2 per 7 days” for any objective selected

Facebook Frequency Capping

Delivery controls
Auction: Standard & accelerated – Standard delivery aims to spend your budget evenly through your campaign. Advertisers with bigger budgets may consider accelerated delivery to reach people quickly for time-sensitive campaigns. Facebook will automatically identify the highest performing ad and serve it the most among a Ad set.

R&F: Options for sequenced and scheduled delivery are available in addition to standard delivery. No option for accelerated delivery.

Predictibility of media planning
Auction: No predictability of overall reach. Daily reach prediction only.

R&F: Able to predict daily reach, frequency distribution, spend per day, and placement distribution before purchasing.

Facebook Reach and Frequency Predictions

Auction: Depending on market conditions, prices can fluctuate in the auction; you can compete in the auction with your bid. Ability to use automatic or manual bidding.

R&F: Lock in the CPM you will pay for impressions – The Facebook system bids for you.

Facebook Reach and Frequency Pricing

Auction: CPM, Cost Per Click or Cost Per Action

Auction: You can schedule Ads to run on different times of the day for different days of the week. Day-parting in Facebook Auction Buying is available only for selection of Lifetime budget for campaigns.

Facebook Day Parting
R&F: You can schedule your ads to run only during part of the day, but cannot vary this selection by day of the week.

Auction: Facebook optimizes your campaigns for campaign objective selected (leads, traffic or awareness)
R&F: Facebook optimizes your ads for reach first and your campaign objective later.

Auction: You can target the same campaign across multiple countries. You can exclude dynamic audiences,
R&F: One campaign can target one country at a time. The minimum audience size to run a R&F campaign is 200k or 2 Lac. R&F cannot exclude dynamic audiences.

Both R&F and Auction support all placements. The choice of placements i.e. Instagram, Messenger, Facebook, Facebook Audience network depends on the campaign objective.

Auction: Supports all creative formats – Single image, video, carousel, canvas etc. depending on the campaign objective selected.
R&F: Supports all creative except 360 photos and videos.

Reach and Frequency Buying Guidelines

We will take you through some best practices and guidelines for buying via Facebook’s Reach & Frequency Option.

Delivery guidelines

  • Ad Sets must be 1-90 days in length and can be booked six months in advance of your launch date.
  • You must reach a minimum of 200,000 people per Ad Set.
  • You can deliver ads on Facebook and Instagram.
  • The system delivers to hit the reach and frequency target while also prioritizing the selected objective. If your primary KPI is action based — such as conversions or website clicks — consider the auction for more optimal buying options.
  • You are setting a frequency cap, not a target. We will not go over your frequency cap.
  • Ads must be uploaded to the Ad Set within six hours after the scheduled start time. If they are uploaded after that, the Ad Set will be cancelled.


Ad Set Guidelines

  • Ad Sets can contain multiple ads. If there are multiple ads within a reach and frequency Ad Set, delivery will optimize towards the best-performing ads based on the objective you’ve selected. It’s a best practice to have multiple ads within an ad set to help minimize any adverse impact on delivery caused by a poor-performing ad.
  • You may choose to manually rotate creative within an Ad Set or use ad scheduling to set the rotation schedule in advance.
  • You may choose to use ad sequencing to have control over the order that the ads in your Ad Set are seen.
  • Each Ad Set has its own Budget, Reach, Frequency, Targeting, and Placements.


Targeting Guidelines

  • You may target one country per campaign, so if you’re interested in reaching people in multiple countries, you’ll need to set up separate reach and frequency Ad Sets.
  • It’s best to avoid creating too narrow of an audience in order to maximize results.
  • You can use exclusion targeting when retargeting audiences with video.
  • You cannot use operating system specific targeting.
  • You cannot exclude dynamic audiences such as:
    • Website Custom Audiences
    • Video Viewer audiences
    • Fans
    • Friends of Connections


Reach and Frequency Ad Delivery Options

Facebook Reach and Frequency Buying provides 3 Ad delivery options.

Standard Delivery:

When your brand is looking to reach a audience with predictable reach and frequency over a set period of time, and the creative message does not depend on when the ad is delivered exactly or in which ordered it is delivered, you should be using Standard delivery for your R&F campaigns.

Standard delivery allows you to reach your target audience with single or multiple messages. It allows to use the Facebook Advertising system to automatically choose the best performing Ads.

The only limitation you have with Standard delivery of Ads is that you lack control over the order or the schedule of your Ads.

Sequenced Delivery:

When your brand has multiple messages they want to deliver to people in order to tell a coherent story, you need to use Sequenced Delivery.

You can deliver ads in a sequence on Facebook and Instagram. For example, no one will see Ad 2 who has not seen Ad 1.

Sequenced delivery provides two limitations: As a brand you cannot control on which date someone sees the Ad – some may receive the ads early in the campaign whereas others may receive ads later in the campaign. It is important to understand that delivery is dependent on user login behavior, which Facebook does not control or influence. Although we can set the order in which our ads are to be seen, we cannot ensure that each person sees the entire set of Ads.

Scheduled Delivery:

When your brand has distinct Ads that need to run on certain dates to make sense, like “Watch the Game of Thrones premier on Sunday night” or “Stream online tomorrow”, you should be using Scheduled Delivery of ads.

Scheduled delivery allows you to choose which dates to show your ads. You can even show multiple ads for a given date range and let the Facebook Ads system choose which ad to deliver.

This type of delivery does not mean that every person in your audience will login to see each ad when it is delivering. So, it could be a person who only logs in once will see the second ad,or only the third.

How to Run Facebook Reach and Frequency Campaigns

As stated earlier, not all advertisers will have the option of buying inventory on Facebook’s network via the Reach and Frequency Buying option. We have outlined the steps below to run Facebook R&F Campaigns:

Step 1: Select Reach and Frequency tab after you hit on “Create Ad”

Facebook Reach and Frequency Option


Step 2: Select Campaign Objective

Not all campaign objectives are available under Reach and Frequency Buying. For e.g. Lead form ads, Product Catalog Sales and Store Visit campaign objectives are only available under the Auction buying option.

Facebook Reach and Frequency Campaign Objective

Step 3: Setup Targeting and get estimates for Reach & Frequency

Based on your targeting, you will get estimates for the reach and frequency delivery of your campaigns. This is where you can cap your frequency and also adjust your budget. Once done, you will get the estimated CPM and delivery schedule for your campaign. It is imperative to note that the minimum audience size for each Ad Set should be 200k people. Also, you cannot target multiple countries in the same Reach and Frequency campaign.


You can also export your reach and frequency estimates in a PDF or CSV file. This is helpful for sharing information of your campaign with your manager / boss or client (in case you are an ad agency)

Step 4:  Upload Ads and select delivery

This is very similar to Auction buying. You need to upload creative, write the ad copy and link your ad to a relevant landing page.

Facebook Ads Upload


Reporting and Measuring your Facebook Reach and Frequency Campaigns

Facebook Business Manager or Facebook Ads Manager provides robust reporting for Reach and Frequency campaigns. You can check the performance of your Ads across demographics or placements on which your ad ran. Basic performance metrics includes reach, percentage reach as compared to estimated reach, amount spent, frequency, cost per result (delivered CPM) etc. delivered across your campaign dates.

Are you interested in running Reach and Frequency campaigns on Facebook? You can reach out to our Facebook Blueprint certified media planners to avail a detailed proposal. Have a look at our Facebook Advertising services!

Mandar Marathe
[email protected]

Mandar Marathe brings 11 years of cross-functional, hands-on knowledge & expertise in digital marketing across Search Engine Optimization, Web Analytics, Pay per click Marketing, Social Media Advertising, Web Design & Development (WordPress) & Content Marketing.

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