This won’t be news to anyone who has been in my vicinity in the past six months, but this year I ran the London Marathon.

I learnt a lot from doing this about all the obvious stuff (shins, plasters, how expensive physio is), but I also learnt a lot about social advertising, and very savvy advertising at that.

Having set up a dedicated marathon Instagram account and become a fan of a tonne of running Facebook pages in the vain attempt to get motivated, I saw the effect of great campaigns from the side of the consumer rather than the advertiser.

For the first time my social media behaviour showed more about me than just my age and gender, which until that point left me only with adverts for dating websites for ‘mature women’ (FYI I’m 27), or generic sale events from big retailers. However now I was a real target, part of an in-market audience for all things running and prepared to throw money at pretty much anything that might make training less awful. Oh, and throw money at the situation I did.

Reach and Frequency

My bank balance’s downfall was due to a range of advertising strategies, but mainly Facebook’s Reach and Frequency buying.

The model is more like television advertising, you book a slot for your ads over a set time frame, and agree the CPM price and total budget beforehand. The focus is on brand awareness and how many times a user will see your ad over the campaign, rather than optimising for clicks or conversions. The argument being that you need to reach your audience more than once or twice to drive impact.

You can plan and book campaigns up to six months in advance and are guaranteed (as far as this could be guaranteed) the impressions and reach you will receive.

Targeting and the ad formats are just the same as the auction model, and there are nice features like sequencing of ads.

When building your campaigns, and provided you’ve set up targeting, you can play around with your budget to see what reach you can get:

You can adjust the graph to set the reach and frequency you’re happy with, and then that price is fixed for the campaign. If you’re feeling particularly flush you can guarantee hitting a huge percentage of your audience with a high frequency:


For the past six months I’ve been flooded with great targeted ads from the likes of SiS Energy Gels (I’m now an advocate), Tribe (I’m now a subscriber), and Protein World (you get the picture). But the one brand that really stood out for me is Runderwear. Runderwear is a great little brand who, put simply, make appropriate pants for runners (just in case that wasn’t obvious from their name). I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure Runderwear took advantage of the Reach and Frequency buying model.

For the past four weeks or so I have seen Runderwear ads everywhere, and lots of them. There are a few other brands who have clearly bought ads in this way too, including Simba Mattress and Birchbox. It’s not the cheapest ad format to use (you need to have sufficient budget to reach at least 200,000 users of your target audience) but it’s predictable and, at least on me, it works.

Feed and right-hand side together:

I caved and bought, but only because I’d seen these ads so many times. I wouldn’t have purchased from seeing it just once in my feed. Go figure.

The whole Runderwear process was nicely done and clearly well thought out, from a “Get 10% off your first order” pop up box when you look at a product page, to a customer service message through Facebook Messenger Bots after purchase, this campaign and funnel process had ‘best practice’ stamped all over it.

[carefully edited so you can’t all see my new pants…]

When the path to purchase is this optimised, and the advertising is well placed, you enjoy being part of it instead of feeling duped into an impulse buy.

So in summary, Reach & Frequency ad buying works a treat, and now I’m broke.