About Target frequency

Target frequency is an optimization solution for driving higher ad viewership on YouTube in your brand awareness campaigns. You’ll be presented with the goal for “Target frequency'' when building your Video reach campaign, and can proceed to implement your awareness campaign as usual. During implementation, input your weekly desired frequency and the system will optimize to meet it.

In this article, we will discuss how to create a Target frequency campaign, best practices, and common FAQs.

Before you begin

  • Target frequency is currently available for YouTube and DV360.
  • Target frequency campaigns support the following ad formats:
  • Don’t use shared budgets for your Target frequency campaigns.
  • Target frequency building doesn’t work for Google Video Partners (GVP).
  • Target frequency campaigns are currently auction only (no reserve support)
  • You can use Google-built or custom audience segments for your Target frequency campaigns. Custom segments have been supported in Target Frequency campaigns since July 2023.
  • You can use Target frequency if you’re running sensitive ads such as alcohol or gambling, but may experience a lower average frequency.
  • Note that contextual targeting is not supported for political campaigns.
  • Your ads may show outside of your demographic targeting in order to reach the same people at your Target frequency. This can happen even if the audience’s profile changes over the course of the week or they move out of your demographic targeting.

Create a Target frequency campaign

Note: The instructions below are part of the new design for the Google Ads user experience. To use the previous design, click the "Appearance" icon, and select Use previous design. If you're using the previous version of Google Ads, review the Quick reference map or use the Search bar in the top navigation panel of Google Ads to find the page you’re searching for.
  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Campaigns icon Campaigns Icon.
  2. Click the Campaigns drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Campaigns.
  4. Click the plus icon and then click + New campaign.
  5. Select Brand awareness and reach or Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance as your goal, and then select Video.
    • If your campaign’s goal is “Brand awareness and reach”, select Video reach campaigns as your campaign type. Next, select Target frequency as your preferred channel to reach your goal.
    • If your campaign’s goal is “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance”, select “Target frequency” as your campaign type.
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Under “Campaign settings” open the Target frequency drop-down , and select a weekly Target frequency between 2-4.
  8. Continue setting up the rest of your campaign, ad group, and ad.
  9. Enter the bid for your ad group. Check the in-built bid suggestion to ensure you bid sufficiently for the frequency goal.
  10. Click on Create campaign.
Note: Currently, Google Ads support only one ad group per Target frequency campaign.

Optimize your campaign as you create it

As you create your campaign, you may receive notifications based on your setting selections. These notifications may alert you of issues that can result in decreased performance or that may be significant enough to prevent you from publishing your campaign.

The campaign construction navigation menu that appears as you construct your campaign provides a holistic view of your construction progress and will call attention to notifications that you may want to address. Move between steps in the navigation menu to easily review and resolve potential issues with your targeting, bidding, budget, or other campaign settings. Learn how to Set up your campaign for success.

Best practices

Make sure to follow these best practices to ensure your Target frequency campaign’s success:

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Bidding: Follow the in-campaign bid suggestion for best results.

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Creatives: Use unique multiple creatives in the same campaign. Try to add at least as many creatives as your Target frequency number, if not more, to avoid creative fatigue. This helps ensure delivery of the right ad to the right user, while helping with creative freshness. Measure average frequency across all videos at the campaign level.

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Audience: Target as wide as possible. Demo-only campaigns have been shown to perform better. Use Google-built audiences and contextual campaigns for Target frequency campaigns.

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Brand Lift: Brand Lift helps you better measure the impact frequency drives in your campaigns.

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Set up a new Target frequency campaign, instead of editing an existing campaign

Keep the following don’ts in mind while setting up your Target frequency campaign:

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Don’t use Allowlists or placement lists.

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Avoid using creatives that are running elsewhere in the account. If you’re using the same creative from your Target frequency campaign in other campaigns, the campaign reporting may show lower average frequency, as the campaign reporting doesn’t include impressions from other campaigns.

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Negative targeting: Limit negative targeting. Excessive brand-safety exclusions due to topics, keywords, or placements could be harmful. For brand-safety, use the “Limited Inventory” setting for ideal performance.

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Ad schedule: Using ad schedule may decrease your Target frequency campaign’s performance.

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Campaign flight: Run the campaign for at least 7 days, and note that longer campaign flights such as 2-4 weeks work the best.

Red X icon Limit changes: Frequency is built over time and making significant changes to your campaign configuration during its flight can negatively impact the performance. For example:
  • Removing audience segments as these users can’t be reached any more.
  • Adding new audience segments less than one week before campaign ends close to the end will result in the system not having enough time to get them to the targeted frequency.
  • Large increases in budget at campaign end may mean the campaign ads need to reach new users, but there is not enough time to reach frequency on them.
  • Large decrease in budget at campaign end may mean there isn’t required budget to get already-reached users to desired frequency.
  • Pausing campaign mid-flight and resuming later adds a challenge to keep growing frequency with the same audience.
Red X icon Limit usage of:
  • Content exclusions (inventory types, digital content labels)
  • Ad scheduling
  • Top content bid modifier


Expand all

1. Does targeting work any differently for Target frequency campaigns?

A. Target frequency campaigns prioritize frequency as the most important thing for your YouTube campaign. Therefore, these campaigns use audience signals in a different manner than other campaigns on YouTube. If you’re using Audiences, it is ensured that users match the targeting criteria for your first frequency. After users have been served the first frequency, they are then eligible for the remaining impressions until the target is reached, even if their audience profile changes over the course of the week or they move out of your demographic targeting. This ensures optimal reach, while being as close to the Target frequency as possible. As a result, you may find traffic served to demographics that aren't included in your targeting, demographics outside your target audience.

2. If I set my weekly Target frequency as X, is that also a frequency cap?

A. No, this is not a frequency cap. To achieve a weekly Target frequency, a subset of users may view the ad more times in a week than the target, which will help offset users who view it less than the target in a week. Note that Target frequency campaigns also autocap to prevent overexposure and build a tight distribution around the target.

3. What is the best way to measure Target frequency campaigns?

A. Look at both the avg. impr. freq. per user (7 days), and the frequency distribution (histogram), as they are powerful tools in measuring the frequency achieved. You may be using the same creative in other campaigns. While testing new creatives is recommended, this may not be possible. In this instance, reach out to YT-Frequency@google.com for support. Note that reach and frequency reports often have up to a 72 hour delay in reporting. Therefore, give your campaign time to measure its effectiveness.

4. Can I try to build frequency on a specific surface (for example, CTV)?

A. Currently, Target frequency isn’t optimized for single-surface frequency delivery, however, you can test this if you’re interested. Note that results may not be as strong as a multi-surface campaign. Instead, increase your bids for a surface you’re interested in, while still enabling impressions across all surfaces.

5. How is this different from video ad sequencing (VAS)?

A. Target frequency is a simpler implementation to awareness buying compared to video ad sequencing. Additionally, VAS is optimized for sequential ad serving, while frequency building doesn’t require ads to be served in a specific order. Therefore, the algorithm can do a better job of achieving frequency targets, and thus incremental lift. Target frequency helps to maximize unique reach at the target or average frequency that you’re interested in achieving every week on YouTube.

6. Can I switch creatives during the flight?

A. With Target frequency, you can easily swap your creatives at any point in your campaign. .

7. Can we change an existing campaign and turn it into a Target frequency campaign?

A. No, you can’t change an existing campaign and turn it into a Target frequency campaign. Instead, end your current campaign and set up a new Target frequency campaign accordingly. Setting up a Unique reach campaign and then shifting to frequency is not recommended, even if it’s never been active. Set up a new campaign if it has not launched yet, as even if the campaign isn’t live yet, there are still backend implications to initial setup. If it's implemented after the initial campaign building flow, it may take a few extra days to optimize towards frequency.

8. Are there any changes to auction pricing behavior for Target frequency campaigns?

A. Target frequency campaigns optimize their bids to ensure multiple impressions will be served to the same users. As a result, the realized CPM is often close to the target CPM to build frequency with these users. Therefore, you should set the target CPM you are comfortable with, as the realized CPM will often be close.

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