Ad Recall Is Where Brand Awareness Lives or Dies

Tyler Cumella
Published in
3 min readJun 12, 2017


Try and grasp the number of ads you are served every single day… A lot, right? As it turns out, the average consumer is served around 5,000 ads per day. With this ever-present overflow of advertising, it’s crucial that advertisers optimize ads to truly resonate with consumers. Otherwise, they’ll fail to break through the clutter and be worthy of someone’s attention.

In today’s digital landscape, though, a served impression does not always mean a consumer really saw the ad (much less digested the content). If the consumers you’re reaching with ads on Facebook and Instagram aren’t paying attention to your content, are you really achieving awareness for your brand?

For brands trying to decipher whether or not their brand awareness campaigns are optimized for maximum impact and memorability, ad recall (Facebook’s forward-thinking brand awareness metric) is a good place to start.

Ad Recall = Reach + Attention

Ad recall is a metric available on Facebook for advertising campaigns with a set brand awareness objective. Essentially, it looks to show your ads to consumers who will care about your content over blasting impressions against a select audience.

Diving deeper, ad recall tells brands how many people Facebook estimates will remember an ad within two days of seeing it, based on user-specific behavioral information Facebook has collected. Facebook has studied the correlation of attention (time spent viewing and dwelling on posts), reach, and ad recall. When put into practice, this metric can provide brands useful insight into how well a campaign is “breaking through” or “resonating” with an audience.

Once a Facebook brand awareness campaign comes to an end, ad recall is calculated based on a number of key factors:

  • The number of people you reached with your ads
  • How much time people spent looking at your ads
  • The historical relationships between the attention people give ads and the results from ad recall surveys

The many factors that may influence ad recall include:

  • The creative: your images, video, text, links, etc.
  • Existing brand awareness
  • The audience of your ad / campaign

For brands looking to really dig into the true memorability and impact of their advertising efforts on Facebook and Instagram, ad recall analysis may sound like a no-brainer. The truth, though, is that many brands continue to shrug it off for lack an understanding of its value, setting up roadblocks to full brand awareness optimization.

Why It Matters: Ad Recall Is Where Brand Awareness Lives or Dies

Unlike many other brand awareness campaign tactics and metrics that take something of a “spray and pray” approach, ad recall is about more than just reach and pushing out unqualified impressions.

Just because an ad appears in someone’s News Feed does not mean that they took note or considered any element of the ad. A brand may see impressions racking up, but if these impressions are meaningless to a consumer, then all efforts of brand awareness are decimated.

Recall is test-able, action-able, and actually provides insights that can be applied to future campaigns. With this metric top of mind, brands can begin to reflect on the memorability and attention-grabbing nature of their advertising efforts (and their brand as a whole) and start testing for:

  • The affect or appeal of ads to the chosen target audiences
  • Ad creative: color, content format, copy, and more
  • Ad distribution and placement: where are they seeing the ad? And how?

While still a relatively young metric (and consistently evolving), ad recall encourages us all to think more deeply about brand awareness and its meaning in advertising. It’s no longer a game of hoping to reach the right people with the right frequency; it’s about knowing that you’re hitting qualified consumers who care, ultimately showcasing brands in a more significant light.



Tyler Cumella
Editor for

Director of Marketing at Spotted | Boston, MA