Departure to Dayparts

Between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. last Friday, March 16, CBS MarketWatch users ran into Budweiser, or, rather, the depiction of a bottle of Budweiser being poured into a skyscraper ad.

Budweiser bought the sponsorship based on a concept called the “daypart,” which advertisers in traditional media have been using for ages.

CBS MarketWatch is one of the first sites on the Web to offer daypart advertising inventory, and I think something like this has been a long time coming.

In broadcast advertising, media can be purchased not just by vehicle, such as radio or television, but also by time of day. Thus, broadcast advertisers can purchase a daypart, or a specific block of time during a 24-hour period in which to advertise.

When putting together a media plan, it is important to think about not only which environments might best suit your client’s product or service message but also when the most appropriate time might be to advertise that message.

In traditional media planning, one has to not only define the target audience but also figure out which medium the target is most likely to be using, which vehicles within that medium they are most likely to be engaging in (a specific magazine, a certain television program, a favorite radio format), and when they are using these particular mediums. A great creative message alone isn’t going to do the trick for you. It really doesn’t matter how great the creative is if the right people aren’t there to see it, right?

Some Examples

Advertisements for pain-relief medications run during the evening news or the programming before prime time, during a daypart known as “Access.” Why? Because lots of folks are coming home after a hard day at work and maybe they’ve got headaches from the stresses of their jobs.

If I’m McDonald’s and I want to tell folks about Egg McMuffins, should I tell them in the middle of the afternoon, or does it make more sense to tell them early in the morning when they’re heading off to work, ready to get into their cars or hop on a train?

If you want to talk to people about a particular brand of coffee, when is the best time to do that? In the morning? At noon? Late at night while they’re in bed watching “Letterman”? And since the product I’m interested in talking to them about is bought at the grocery store, what days are they most likely to be going to the store to shop? Do they get in their cars Monday night to go to the store, or more likely Friday, before the weekend?

What Budweiser is doing is playing on the whole “happy hour on Friday” thing. People are wrapping up their workweeks, checking the market news, and thinking about the weekend. Maybe they plan to go out with a few coworkers for a drink afterwards. Then bam! There it is: a reminder that Budweiser, the king of beers, cool and refreshing, is waiting for them.

Language Review

Traditional advertisers have long been doing things this way, producing media plans that would “flight” the media to run during a specific time of day on specific days of the week. More sites out there could offer this sort of thing; they may not get more traditional advertisers to spend greater sums of money, but at least they’ll be starting to use a language those advertisers understand and speak.

So, here are a couple of things to keep in mind when putting together your next plan, or when pitching online for a traditional advertiser. I wrote about these last summer, but I think now that a major advertiser like Budweiser is exercising these concepts, it’s time to bring them up again:

  • Day-of-week flighting. It will be necessary to first run a test buy or two for your client before figuring out which days are “most active” and appropriate for your client and product. But once you do, this can be another way to increase the efficiency of the direct responses you get, as well as the possible “relevance quality” of the impression that merely, well… makes an impression and leads to correlative activity.

  • Time-of-day flighting. Now, there are direct marketers out there who will say, “We’ve been running ads overnight for years, and it’s the greatest thing ever. More efficient, less clutter, the works!” Well, that’s absolutely true — for TV or radio.

Overnight dayparts (which are not even measured by ratings) are much less expensive than, say, prime-time dayparts (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.). But on the Web, you pay the same price for inventory whether it’s 4 p.m. or 4 a.m. Again, as with day-of-week flighting, you can improve the efficiency of all impressions run, regardless of the direct response or the correlative action instigated.

Well, there you have it. What was once old can be made new again. Now, let’s get some business!

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