Line items

Set frequency caps for a line item

Limit how many times a user can see an ad. #frequencycaps

Jump to: How it works | Eligibility | Apply to a line item | Apply to creatives

You can limit the number of times a user can be served a line item within a time period. You can add up to 10 frequency caps per line item.

How frequency capping works

Frequency capping uses identifiers, such as a cookie (first-party cookies as well through third-party cookies under the Google domain), PPID, IDFA, AdID, and so on. Ad Manager sets an identifier on your site to determine where ads are located and how visitors interact with them.

Session Identifiers (SID) are typically located in either the URL query parameters or within a cookie that is assigned to the user. Session IDs increase the accuracy of reporting by eliminating the effects of proxy servers, and making it possible to increase session accuracy immediately.

In rare cases, such as in a new Chrome session (without existing cookies), frequency capping might be triggered one impression after the cap because the first impression is used for cookie collection. For example, if a frequency cap is set to five impressions a day per user, the user sees six impressions.
Ad Manager applies frequency caps based on code served by default. A separate feature enables "delayed impression frequency capping", and allows Ad Manager to cap based on the impression rather than the code served count.
  • For delayed impressions of less than 60 seconds, Ad Manager still uses code served for capping.
  • For delayed impressions of more than 60 seconds, Ad Manager uses the impression to frequency cap. This ensures that frequency caps are still enforced even if all ads are requested at once.
Publishers can request the delayed impression frequency capping feature by contacting their account manager. 

Frequency capping eligibility

Time-based frequency capping requires availability of a user identifier, which could be a USERID or a PPID. If a time-based cap is set without an available identifier, the line item is not eligible to serve.

For video pod- and stream-based frequency caps, the line item may still serve even when an identifier is not present. In these cases, the line item does not adhere to the pod or stream cap, and serves whenever it's eligible.

Pod- and stream-based frequency capped line items can still serve when there is no user ID present. For the frequency cap to take effect when it serves, however, the video ad request must have the following set correctly: a user ID, and the pod and scor parameters.

The following differences exist for frequency capping on mobile devices versus desktop:

  • Mobile websites: If a browser blocks the setting of third-party cookies but allows first-party cookies, Ad Manager uses the first-party cookie. In such cases, frequency caps are only effective within a single domain, not across domains.
  • Mobile apps: Use an identifier from the device instead of a browser cookie. If an identifier from the device is not available due to user settings, Ad Manager may use a first-party ID. In such cases, frequency caps are only effective within a single app, not across apps.

Frequency capping and forecasting

Frequency capping is considered for forecasting, but monthly or lifetime frequency caps are not captured as part of the data. Consequently, in cases with monthly and lifetime frequency caps, forecasting can overpredict. Learn more about how frequency capping accounts for trafficking features.

Video forecasting supports frequency capping within a single ad pod but not multiple ad pods, such as "every x pods" or "y every x pods".

Frequency capping and roadblocks

Frequency caps on roadblocked line items will count page views instead of individual ad impressions.

For example, a roadblock line item using the "As many as possible" Display creatives setting with 3 creatives and a frequency cap set at 6 lifetime impressions, will be shown 6 times per user for a total of 18 individual ad impressions.

Apply frequency caps to a line item

You can't set frequency caps for line items in Preferred Deals.
  1. Sign in to Google Ad Manager.
  2. Click Delivery, then Orders and click an order.
  3. Click the line item you'd like to update.
    Use filters if needed to help find the line item.
  4. In the "Adjust delivery" section, select Set per user frequency cap under "Frequency (optional)".
  5. In the settings that appear, enter a maximum number of impressions per user then set how often the cap will be reached.
    For example, set a frequency cap so a user will see 10 impressions every 2 weeks. Learn more about line item limits.
  6. Click Add frequency cap as needed. Combining frequency caps can help ensure that users don't see the same line item too often.

    For example, set a frequency cap of 1 impression per hour, and a second frequency cap of 3 impressions per day. Ad Manager will enforce both rules: a user can't be served the line item more than once per hour or more than three times per day.

  7. Click Save.

Troubleshoot delivery issues and frequency caps

Use a line item's "Troubleshoot" tab to see reasons your line item isn't delivering. This can help you determine whether your frequency caps are affecting delivery pacing as expected.

Apply frequency caps to creatives and ad units

You can set the number of times that creatives with a given label can be served to users within particular ad slots during a time period that you specify. If you've set both types of frequency caps, the more restrictive rule is always used. Learn more about labels and frequency capping.

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