Your Ad Frequency Is Driving Me Insane

By Ryan Dinger


With the pandemic cresting yet another wave, I spent the 2021 holiday season mostly at home in my Brooklyn apartment, avoiding people and resuming many of the habits that got me through the early days of COVID-19 when we were all locked down.

Stuck at home without much to do, I did what many millennials in their mid-30s have taken to doing to get through these trying times: I turned on my Roku and began mindlessly watching YouTube videos all day.

Watching hour after hour of YouTube, I noticed a trend. Every single ad break began with the exact same commercial: A Samsung spot for its new Galaxy Z Flip3, complete with music from the insanely popular K-Pop group BTS.

At first, this was only slightly annoying. But as the days went by, the trend persisted in such a way that I began expecting to hear the signature BTS hook to "Butter" before the ads would even roll.

Before too long, I was preemptively muting my TV the moment an "Ad in 5 seconds" alert popped up to spare myself the rage I was feeling seeing the same exact 15-second ad with the same exact 15-second clip of the same song over and over again. The frequency with which the ads was being served to me began to feel a bit like a taunt.

As you might imagine, this was not a good brand experience for me, the valued consumer. Now, full disclosure, I am a customer of Samsung's. I've been a long-time user of the Galaxy and have been very happy. In fact, it would take an experience just like the one I had over the holidays with Samsung's new commercial to hurt the brand's image in my eyes. But the point of this isn't too call out Samsung specifically for its sin of oversaturation.

According to a 2019 study from Kantar, a whopping 70 percent of consumers say they see the same ads over and over again. And that was before the pandemic had us cooped up in our homes watching ad-supported content all day long.

So, what can be done? Brands have to get their messages out there and, in fairness, I am pretty much the quintessential target for Samsung, so this isn't a targeting issue. I thought about this predicament from my perspective as a consumer and came up with two ways I'd like to see brands approach reducing ad frequency.

No. 1: Mix up your creative!

Oversaturation was part of the issue I had with Samsung's commercial for the Galaxy Z Flip3. Samsung could have simply cut together two more versions of the ad. This wouldn't require much extra work, as footage from the same shoot could have been used in all three spots — and Samsung could've simply used different segments of "Butter" in each one. For just a little more effort, Samsung could've done wonders for my sanity.

No. 2: Try reaching me elsewhere!

Something that is interesting about my YouTube account is that it's already linked to an email account that is associated with my Samsung phone. This alone provides Samsung myriad new ways to reach me, whether it be through programmatic targeting with static ads or the tried and true method of emailing me directly.

By reducing the frequency with which I saw ads on YouTube and instead looking for those impressions elsewhere, Samsung could have satiated my desire to not be bombarded by the same commercial again and again while not needing to compromise on the number of times the brand's messages reached me. This feels like a win-win.

Now these are but two humble suggestions from a man who simply noticed he didn't like the feeling he was getting when forced to see the same ad on repeat. But then again, the data says there are a lot of folks like me. Maybe it's time for brands to take notice.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Ryan Dinger is a senior manager of editorial and content development at ANA.