Best practice: Dayparting – how online ads can learn a lesson from broadcast media


Education & Training | by Danny Meadows-Klue

If you’re McDonalds and selling breakfast products, when do you want to advertise? If you’re a coffee chain with an afternoon coffee shop promotion then when could trigger the purchase? If you’re a film company releasing a new blockbuster, when are people most receptive? Broadcast media has always been strong in using the times of day to talk to customers when they are most receptive, but why have web marketers missed the trick? And how can media owners and planners reap the rewards to improve the effectiveness of how they work?

Since well before 2000, the adservers that deliver advertising content into web pages have been smart enough to structure the delivery of campaigns by time of day, and they quickly learned to spot which audiences come from which countries so they could adjust that timing to suit the timezone of the viewer. But most media planners don’t put dayparting on the schedule and most media sales teams see it as a threat to their inventory volumes. In practice it’s an opportunity for all sides to get more value out of the campaigns they’re investing in, and for a bigger uplift in ad effectiveness.

Not every brand benefits from dayparting, but even if the product sales cycle isn’t time sensitive, maybe the creative treatments can talk to the viewer in ways that are sensitive to the context – ‘Going to the movies tonight?’ / ‘It’s only a couple of hours till movie time’ / ‘Enjoy the big screen experience now’

The process is simple enough. Adservers can be programmed to slice the day into parts and schedule creative assets to only appear at preselected times. This is part of the role of online advertising operations teams in managing campaign schedules, but when the services are not requested, it’s no surprise that they’re not delivered.

For media planners this means lower media wastage in a campaign. Instead of the right message falling on deaf ears, it reaches customers at the time of greatest potential connection to the brand. That’s a great result for the brand owner, and a coup for the agency. Budget that’s freed up can be used to broaden the reach of the campaign to include more sites and placements, or to extend the duration of the campaign; after all, if it’s the right audience at the right time of day with the right message, then why limit the web activity to a two week burst to support a TV campaign? Online the campaign could run for months, taking the message to audiences just at the right moment to trigger purchase, engagement or brand activation.

For media sales teams this is also a winner. It optimises the inventory available on a website, creating dayparts that could be sold to other clients. The targeting justifies a financial premium for the advertising schedule and providing there is market demand for other slots (or existing campaign demand that can be deployed into the new spaces), the same benefits about campaign duration and reach apply here also.

Dayparting is just one example of how web advertising can deliver above and beyond the restrictions of inefficient traditional media. Savvy agency planners will be pushing for this more and more, smart marketers will be learning more about the times that customers are most receptive to their messaging, and smart media owners will be looking for ways to weave daypart premiums into their yield management strategies.

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