With frequency distribution, you can see how many people saw your ads a certain number of times in a selected date range. In this article, you’ll learn how the frequency distribution is calculated in Google Ads and how to view the frequency distribution for a video campaign.
How frequency distribution is calculated in Google Ads
In Google Ads, the frequency distribution appears across 6 different buckets that show the minimum number of times a person saw the ad: “1+”, “2+”, “3+”, “4+”, “5+”, and “10+”. The “1+” frequency bucket will always show the total unique users for the selected date range, while the “2+”, “3+”, “4+”, “5+”, and “10+” frequency buckets will show the number of people who saw your ad at least the indicated number of times in that bucket. Keep in mind that people counted in one frequency bucket can also be counted in another frequency bucket (depending on how many times they’ve seen your ad).
Let’s say someone saw your ad twice in a selected date range across mobile and desktop. Since the person saw your ad twice, they’d be included in the “1+” and “2+” frequency buckets.
Unlike other reach metrics, the frequency distribution can only be reported if the date range is 31 days or less. You may not see the frequency distribution in the statistics table if you select a date range that’s longer than 31 days.
The frequency distribution is different from the avg. impr. freq. / user. The avg. impr. freq. / user shows you the average number of times people saw your ads in the campaign, while the frequency distribution shows you how many people saw your ads and the frequency at which they saw your ads. For example, you could have a campaign with an avg. impr. freq. / user of 2.5, while the frequency distribution reported for that campaign could show you that 50,000 people saw the ad two times, 30,000 people saw the ad three times, and so on.
Effects of frequency caps on the frequency distribution
If you set a frequency cap on your campaign, you may notice that the reported frequency distribution shows values higher than the frequency cap. Here are a few possible reasons why:
- Frequency caps are applied by cookies, not unique users. People may be counted more than once because they use more than one browser or one computer (which use different cookies).
- Depending on the date range you select in Google Ads, the reported frequency may appear to increase. For example, if you choose a date range of 2 weeks in Google Ads, and your campaign has a frequency cap of 3 impressions per week per person, you may see up to 6 impressions per person.
- Reported frequency in Google Ads may appear to show a higher number of impressions than the frequency cap. Google Ads will start counting impressions towards a campaign’s frequency cap on the first day a person sees your ad (which could be at the beginning, middle, or near the end of your campaign). For example, if you have a frequency cap of 3 impressions per week and you’re looking at a date range of 4 days, the data might cover 2 frequency capping periods.
Add frequency distribution to Google Ads reporting
You can see the frequency distribution for a campaign for a campaign (or for a video in a campaign) using the Google Ads statistics table. To see the frequency distribution, add the “Frequency distribution” column in Google Ads.
- Sign in to your Google Ads account.
- In the navigation menu on the left, click Video campaigns.
- Click the Columns icon above the statistics table.
- Click Reach metrics in the menu.
- Click the box next to Frequency distribution.
- (Optional) To save the column set for future use, click the "Save your column set” field and enter a name for your column set.
- Click Apply. The frequency distribution now appears in the Google Ads statistics table for your video campaigns, split into 6 different frequency buckets (“1+”, “2+”, “3+”, “4+”, “5+”, and “10+”).
- To see data for a specific period, click the date range selector on the top corner of the page and select a date range. You can select up to 31 days.
- When you hover over a value in the “Frequency distribution” column in Google Ads, a histogram will appear to show you how the frequency distribution changes over time.
Note: Data in the histogram refers to the selected dates in the date range and not the entire campaign.