Are you ruining the illusion with Google Remarketing?

Have you ever heard of a product or brand and then suddenly it starts appearing everywhere you go? This phenomenon is called the frequency illusion and is caused by two processes.

First the selective attention kicks in when you are taken with a new concept, thing or idea (which you then unconsciously keep an eye out for it).

The second process is confirmation bias, which reassures you that each pervasive sighting inflates the importance of the thing and increases the chances of being more aware of it when we encounter it again.

The movie The Number 23 is a good example of The Frequency Illusion.


If we apply to Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon to marketing, or in this case Google Remarketing we can see remarketing done badly could actually lose a potential customer rather than encourage a sale or conversion.

An example of this is serving up exactly the same ad every single time at a high frequency. The first two or three times the user might unconsciously notice it and it may enforce their awareness of the brand. But that same ad being served up on every site they visit all day everyday will make them realise “hey, this is one of those stalky remarketing campaigns that are tracking my every move”

Once the user recognises that the advertising is targeting them specifically we run the risk of breaking the frequency illusion and possibly losing the customer altogether.

Frequency capping is used to help control the amount of time your Display Network ad is seen by each person. Turning on frequency capping allows you to set a limit for how many times a user will see your ad on a per day, per week or per month basis. Always set up frequency capping so that your brand is seen but doesn’t also annoy your potential customer, or show up so often as to be obvious that it’s a targeted remarketing campaign.

How to set a frequency cap:

Adwords > Campaigns > All Campaigns > Settings > Advanced Settings > Ad delivery: Ad rotation, frequency capping


Keep frequency capping in mind when creating your digital marketing strategy.

remarketing frequency capping

The NerdWriter has a great video that explains The Baader Meinhoff Phenomenon in quite well too.

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