Saturday, 27 January 2007

e-Marketing Basics: Pro and Cons of Hour Targeting

One of the main advantages of advanced internet technologies is the possibility of hour targeting for ads served to web sites.
Exactly how such targeting is done, that is a tech issue far beyond our e-Marketing topic. What is important to us, e-Marketers, is to be aware of this facility web servers have and use it towards making online campaigns more efficient.

Hour targeting is especially useful when:
- we already know the online buying habits of our target;
- we want to create an association between our products and a certain time of the day when interest might be higher;
- we try to avoid a certain category of customers that are known to be more active at a certain hour interval;
- we know from previous researches that sites where we're advertising have different categories of visitors, with different interests and behaviour, active at certain hours.

Let us try imagining some examples of justified hour targeting:

- Premium IT products (such as laptops) could probably use a business hours targeting, on the premises that active, working professionals have more buying power. Similarly, off-hours and weekend targeting could be used when promoting basic desktop systems with a lower price to a more younger audience with less buying power and/or buying decision.

- FMCG products might benefit from targeting ads within hour intervals when these products are more likely to be utilized. We would probably want to place ads for coffee on news-delivering web sites during the morning hours; and advertising creams and gels for muscular pains later in the afternoon or evening, when such pains are more likely to occur.

- It is widely known that surfers using a dial-up connexion get online in the evening and at night. Therefore, if we are to promote products or services destined to dial-up users (modems, access cards, offers to switch to a superior connexion) it only makes more business sense to target late hours.

Interesting enough, such hour targeting is not always successful. A media planner might be blinded by the revelation of a cool method to raise efficiency of online campaigns like an adserver, only to realise at a later time that it can be more of a bother. For example, a banner for a banking product placed on a business portal would not need hour targeting, as professionals visiting such portals usually have permanent internet connection whether it is at office, at home, or is using a mobile solution. A regular reader of Financial Times online might opt to access the site in the evening, from the comfort of his home, long after the regular "business hours", and would be a missed target if we employ hour targeting.

To conclude, hour targeting for online campaigns makes a very powerful and efficient tool, but needs to be performed after carefully assessing surfing and buying behaviours of the visitors on web sites where we advertise.

(c) 2006 Otilia Otlacan

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