If you head online, you’ll find plenty of research and data showcasing the best time to schedule promotional content, whether these take the form of tweets, Facebook posts or banner ads.
However, such guidance can often seem a little simplistic, as there are a myriad of alternative factors that impact on the success (or otherwise) of ad penetration. These can include everything from your chosen niche and target audience to the various channels that you incorporate as part of your integrated marketing campaigns.
In this post, we’ll consider some of these factors in greater detail, while appraising the best times to advertise in certain circumstances.
Beyond Timing – How to Plan Your Advertising Campaign
On a fundamental level, the timing and content of your ads is dictated by your niche, which also links directly to the nature of the product or service that you’re hoping to promote.
Of course, these factors are also bound by the observed behaviour of your target market, as it’s important to market products or share sponsored content at a time when customers are both accessible and more likely to engage with the brand.
Without the analysis of relevant customer behaviour, you may find yourself displaying ads at a time when members of the relevant demographic are working, studying or participating activities that are far-removed from commercialism.
In these instances, campaigns and individual ads will deliver lower click-through rates or impressions (depending on your chosen medium), minimising impact and leading to reduced returns on an initial marketing spend.
Conversely, displaying ads when your target audience is looking to engage with brands and are focused on specific purchasing decisions will help to optimise engagement and subsequent conversion rates, while also increasing the potential to drive repeat visits in the near-term (we’ll touch a further on this later in the piece).
Of course, we know that consumers also display different behaviours at different times of the day, depending on whether they’re working, relaxing or enjoying an on or offline social activity.
In this respect, the location of your adverts is also a key consideration, so you’ll need to ensure that sponsored messaging appears in the right time and place regardless of whether you’re leveraging on or offline advertising channels.
This is part of a wider trend too, with an estimated 66% of existing marketers confident in the belief that location-based advertising is one of the most exciting opportunities for brands in the modern age.
This is arguably particularly important when using offline channels and OOH (out-of-home) media such as billboards, which require the placement of ads in fixed and strategically selected locations.
You should also consider the fact that people who engage with OOH adverts are thought to be 17% more likely to interact with the promoted brand or campaign through their mobile device, so planning a campaign around location and timing can deliver significant results within target demographics.
On a final note, you’ll need to ensure that your ad campaign and each of its individual components are calculated with clearly defined objectives in mind.
Make no mistake; this will have a direct impact on every aspect of your market campaign, from the channels that you leverage to the creative elements and calls to action that you use.
With this in mind, your core marketing objectives should directly influence the timing of your advertisements and messaging, depending on whether you’re looking to influence purchasing decisions, drive further brand interaction or build awareness of the brand or a specific product range.
Such an approach also makes it easy to measure the impact of your campaigns and individual ads in real-time, enabling you adapt your methodology where possible and create more informed campaigns in the process.
When to Advertise – Some Examples to Keep in Mind
At this stage, you should have an understanding of timing and the factors that impact when and where you place your marketing content.
However, how do we apply this in specific circumstances? Here are some ideas to keep in mind!
At the End of the Day
If you’re selling or marketing a product, it’s important to target potential customers at a time when they’re actively looking to make purchasing decisions.
According to research, consumers are actually more likely to engage with ads and sponsored content when they’re tired or actively in the process of making decisions as a consumer, as this creates a scenario where their internal mental resources are exhausted and they’re increasingly susceptible to marketing overtures.
So, while it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best times to target customers and market products directly is at the end of the typical working day.
Interestingly, this highlights the benefits of using 48 and 96-sheet billboards to target consumers at strategic roadside locations, particularly those based online busy and popular commuter routes.
During the rush-hour period at the end of the working day, these ads can directly target large swathes of your target market at a time when they’re mentally jaded and more likely to engage with commercial offerings from specific brands.
This example is even more relevant in the current workplace, with around 36% of the UK labour market continuing to commute to and from their place of work by car on a daily basis.
You can also extend this logic to occasions such as sporting events, by taking out advertisements and placements towards the end of a specific match or game.
Once again, this allows you to target consumers when they’re becoming less engaged with the sport in question and beginning to focus on other issues, while simultaneously seeking out ads that can support and inform subsequent purchasing decisions.
This approach also highlights the correlation between timing and location, which is particularly crucial when investing in OOH media such as billboards.
On a similar and final note, you can target customers at the end of the day through smaller ads at bus and train stations. This applies the same marketing logic, while it definitely increases engagement levels and creates an opportunity to actively influence consumer decisions.
Consumers are also known to undertake purchasing decisions during the day and during their working, particularly when they leave the office and head for lunch.
So, this creates an opportunity to target local shops or eateries that they’re likely to frequent, specifically during lunch breaks and the hours of 12pm and 2pm.
When it’s Topical
All advertising requires a hook; whether you’re looking to build brand awareness or sell a new product to consumers.
The question that remains, of course, is how can you identify viable hooks and time your advertisements to capitalise on them accordingly?
One example is provided by seasonal periods and holidays, such as Easter and christmas. The latter can provide a limited window in which to promote luxury goods, for example, with the festive period one of the biggest spending holidays in the UK and a cumulative total of more than £33.3 billion spent on gifts last year.
Conversely, brands selling summerware or accessories like surfboards are likely to see higher engagement levels and sales during the late spring and summer months, in order to tap into the lucrative holiday spending market.
Outside of holidays, you can also target events such as Pride, which offer you access to a diverse target audience and allows you to market specific products and services (so long as this is done in an inclusive and relevant way).
In order to identify similar and less obvious hooks, we’d also recommend creating a detailed content calendar that details upcoming events and potential ideas for creating organic copy and topical ads. This offers huge value while enabling you to brainstorm and refine ideas well ahead of time.
Advertising Around Political Events and Campaigns
The UK experienced its most recent general election in December last year, while the US Presidential election is scheduled for November 3rd 2020.
Interestingly, such events may offer an opportunity to advertise and target an engaged and motivated consumer demographic, although you should note that this tactic is fraught with risk and potential controversy.
Sure, there’s no doubt that brands have become increasingly politically active during these volatile times, but this has the potential to alienate some consumers in your attempts to win over new demographics.
However, you may experience some success by adopting a light-hearted and cheeky approach to advertising, as showcased by the various Led by Donkeys campaigns, during political campaigns and events, particularly if you’re able to leverage viral Twitter hashtags and reach a large number of consumers either on or offline.
In this instance, you may need to tread the delicate line between leveraging a political event to your advantage and not advocating one outcome over another, primarily by using creative messaging and humour to create a neutral but striking position.
Ultimately, this is something that you should consider carefully before proceeding, as it requires creative excellence and an ability to transcend tribal and political divides.
The Last Word
While the timing of your ads and messaging is crucial, this cannot be considered as a standalone factor.
In fact, such timings will be influenced by a huge range of considerations, from your core marketing objectives and the behaviour of your target audience to the location of your individual adverts.
By being able to make a comprehensive and informed decision, however, you can identify the ideal timing for specific adverts while optimising your reach and ultimate sales conversions.