Research Digest

How Reach and Creative Personalization Intersect on Connected TV


  • Research findings from Sky Media reveal optimal frequency of a television campaign sits between eight and 14 exposures
  • Additionally, there is no further improvement to ad recall, brand awareness and consideration after eight exposures.
  • Driving the best results on Connected TV is a combination of reach at scale and personalization, while leveraging automated optimization to ensure the right level of frequency for a specific brand or industry.  

Is there such a thing as too much reach that dilutes your brand message? Seth Godin once said, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” In this digest, we’ll explore whether or not there is such a thing as optimal reach and frequency on Connected TV, and how brands can balance this through their creative process.

Frequency Out of Reach? How to Balance Both

Ad fatigue has only increased over time. According to industry research, there was a 135.57% increase in digital experiences delivered between 2019 and 2021. The battle for attention and time has never been greater than it is now. Two variables which can make or break a campaign are reach and frequency. A study conducted by Comcast-owned Sky analyzed its consumer data and determined the optimal frequency that marketers should aim for in their campaigns, between eight and fourteen exposures—and that there is a diminishing returns effect after fourteen exposures.

This study then charted the effects of varying frequency on three sets of brand KPIs: ad recall, brand awareness and brand consideration. The methodology assessed these results across three separate campaigns (each using the same creative), where one sample size was served the ad four times (light), one group eight times (medium) and one group 12 times (heavy). Another randomly-selected group from the same audience was designated as the control group and was not served the ad campaign.

In summary, the light and medium frequency group showed the highest uplift in these three brand attributes, however the high frequency group did not (in other words, an ad frequency of 12 is no better than an ad frequency of eight). 

Additionally, there exists an inverse relationship between frequency and reach—and in an ideal world, brands should aim for both. However, with budget and resource constraints, this is not always the case. Generally, increasing reach reduces a brand’s ability (and capacity) for frequency—and increasing frequency limits what can be spent on reach. This can hamper awareness-based campaigns that prioritize the studied KPIs of recall and consideration. 

Thankfully, performance marketing channels like Connected TV ensure reach and frequency are optimized with performance in mind. For example, adtech solutions like MNTN Performance TV don’t require brands to choose between these two variables as it automatically optimizes for both, ensuring that a campaign is delivered at a reach and frequency that will resonate with its audience.  This is important, because this can vary depending on the brand or industry. Not all buyer journeys are the same after all, and so data-drive optimizations are required to hit the right balance.  

Adding Personality to Personalization to Maximize Reach

One key component that adds to the ongoing ad fatigue dilemma is ad creative. While the Sky Media example above ranks brand attributes and frequency based on a single type of ad creative, we could imagine that these results would differ considerably based on the type of creative. 

Ironically, research studies by research company System1 have found that creative elements proven to drive emotional response and long-term effectiveness are used less today than in the past, and that ‘right brain’ characteristics like empathy, relationships and human connection have been downplayed and replaced with ‘left brain’ features (mostly literal, factual and explicit), Additionally, brand characters (think the Geico gecko) act as a visual cue for recall and outperform other ads—but even the use of these have declined over the past two decades. 

Brands should apply a ‘right brain’ mindset when developing their ad creative in order to drive the most favorable outcome and reduce ad fatigue. This, combined with MNTN Performance TV’s auto-optimization and audience-first approach, will then seek out the viewer who is not only in-market for this type of product/service, no matter what type of content they may be consuming. Lastly, advertisers can expect that this creative is served at a level of frequency that will keep viewers engaged.


In order to combat ad fatigue, brands need to pay attention to three variables that will have the biggest impact on viewer engagement: reach, frequency and creative. Studies show that the frequency ‘sweet spot’ lies between eight to 14 exposures, however if we were to analyze this based on a brand attribute basis, the number is actually less—and that a higher exposure of an ad will not increase KPIs like ad recall, brand awareness and brand consideration. In order for brands to juggle the reach and frequency relationship, they should turn to personalizing their creative. This means applying a ‘right brain’ mindset when developing creative, that speaks to empathy, human connection and relationships. Advertisers should apply these principles through the lens of the Connected TV format for the best possible results and seek out solutions like MNTN Performance TV that automates campaigns at an optimal reach and frequency. 

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