Line items

Set frequency caps for a line item

Limit how many times a user can see an ad

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

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.

How frequency capping works

Frequency capping works through the use of identifiers, such as a cookie (first-party cookies as well through third-party cookies under the Google domain), PPID, IDFA, AdID, and so forth. Ad Manager will set an identifier on your site, then use it to determine how your site visitors interact with the ads you display and where the ads were located.

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 caps require the pod and scor ad tag parameters, respectively, to be correctly set on video ad requests where the capped line item serves.

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 applications: Mobile applications use an identifier from the device rather than a browser cookie.
  • Apple iPhone: iPhone users with iOS 10 or higher may optionally enable Limit Ad Tracking (LAT). Creatives belonging to line items that use frequency caps do not serve by default to iPhone users with iOS 10, who have enabled LAT. Instead, consider passing resettable device identifiers.

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".

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 and then Orders and click an order.
  3. Use filters to find and click the line item you'd like to update.
  4. Next to "Adjust delivery," select Set per user frequency cap under "Frequency".
  5. Enter a maximum number of impressions per user then set how often the cap will be reached. For example, you can set a frequency cap so that a user will see 10 impressions every 2 weeks. Learn more about line item limits.
  6. Add additional frequency caps as needed. Combining frequency caps can help you ensure that users do not see the same line item too often.

    For example, you could 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.

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.

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