Timings have always played a key role in the success of retail. We’ve heard at great length across trade media about the thought and planning that retailers took to get their ducks in a row ahead of Cyber Monday. Similarly, over in the US, we learnt that a growing number of major outlets including Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s opened their shop doors on Thanksgiving, as the industry begins to recognise the value of setting long-standing traditions of holiday closing hours aside to boost revenues. It’s all about the age-old recipe of marketing – catching the attention of customers at the right time, in the right place and in the right context, in a way that maximises return on investment. Certainly, most retailers will focus resource to coincide with certain peak times of year, but how much are they considering which hours of the day and days of the week best boost performance online?
Our latest data has pointed to the fact that a number of businesses simply aren’t going far enough to recognise when the most valuable time is to engage with their audiences. Every quarter we work up a media barometer which gauges online marketing spend and engagement – for the first time across the last three months we evaluated what time of week offers most value to marketers and when consumers engage with online advertising most.
The results revealed that consumers are 7% more likely to click on online display advertising during the weekend, with a significant rise on Saturday and Sunday compared to the rest of the week. At the same time, the average cost for online advertising at the weekend was found to be lowest, around 12% lower than during the week.
There are clearly a few reasons why this trend has emerged. Consumers typically have more time to browse the web recreationally during the weekend and so are more likely to click on online ads when they have the time to research the goods they plan to buy. Another strong factor here could be that consumers are reluctant to click on online ads while they are at the office. But why are the prices for advertising so low at the weekend then? As one might expect with situations like this, it is a question of what logistically works for marketers rather than what is practical. In general, businesses like ours receive more requests for online advertising bids on work days than we do on weekends, which means the competition for inventory is highest Monday through Friday. This leaves advertising costs ironically lower at the weekend, when consumers are most likely to engage with marketing.
The figures we sourced also brought to the fore some interesting seasonal considerations. It’s not just the festive quarter that attracts most engagement online – brands raised their real-time bidding (RTB) advertising spend by 92% through the summer compared to the amount spent in the spring. This is despite the rising costs from publishers, who saw their CPM rates increase by 30% across the quarter. The increase in spend was justified by the fact that consumers spent longer engaging with online advertising during the summer, with engagement rates up by 14% and the average engagement time an impressive 12 seconds on the previous quarter.
But as discussed, being time aware shouldn’t be limited to gearing up to major holidays. The innovations real-time bidding have brought to building a brand online based means that effective customer engagement can be planned with far greater granular detail. In line with this, we also need to recognise that no one retailer has exactly the same audience demographic. Trends are useful guidance points, sure. But it’s no use looking over your shoulder at what strategies competitors are using. It’s much more important to use today’s wide ranging data tools to fully understand how, when and where your business puts its best foot forward, building online marketing campaigns on your own terms and insight.
Martin Stockfleth Larsen is CMO at Adform