No More Lazy Summer Days for Media Buyers

With the U.S.’s Independence Day holiday behind us and summer in full swing, most media buyers have already signed off on campaigns for the season. Reduced spending and low expectations once defined summer campaigns. Driven by the assumption consumers spend less time in front of their computers in summer months, Internet advertisers traditionally significantly scaled down marketing efforts from June through August.

Not anymore. According to an AdZone Research Internet advertising report, there was no significant drop in ad spending last summer. In fact, advertisers spent more last July than they did in February 2004, and just slightly less than in March and September 2004.

Why the change? Internet usage trends. Before, when a media buyer envisioned her target consumer’s behavior during the season of vacation time and summer hours, it was easy to envision the Web as a low priority, particularly for at-work users. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, however, there are almost always fewer at-work users than at-home users each month. Work users spend more time surfing the Web.

Last July, PC time per person was 26 hours for home users, 75 for those at work. At-work users visited 102 domains during the month, compared to home users 54.

Former assumptions that at-work Internet users curtail their normal surfing habits in the summer months can be put to rest. They may be spending less time in the office, but the Web is just as much a part of the daily routine as always.

And what of at-home users, whom buyers used to presume spend little or no time on the Web in the summer months? Their surfing habits were reformed by Internet mobility. Thanks to the growing popularity of Wi-Fi (define) hot spots, Internet-enabled phones, and PDAs, Internet access is no longer synonymous with being shackled to an indoor desktop computer. Users can surf in airports, restaurants, and hotels; on the road or at the beach; or while overseeing weekend grilling in the backyard.

Such mobility doesn’t only affect when and where consumers surf, but how they use the Web. According to comScore Media Metrix, lifestyle — food sites (such as and, car rental sites, and retail — tickets sites all saw traffic spike the week prior to Independence Day last year. The research company also lists summer as the travel category’s busiest time of year.

During the summer months, map, weather, diet, and fitness sites are safe bets for advertisers, whether your target audience connects from a desk in an office or a passenger seat in a car. For business-to-consumer advertisers, these properties represent perfect vehicles via which to promote seasonal specials or increase awareness of useful summer content.

Not convinced summer holds a bounty of ad opportunities? Prefer to save your ad dollars for the fall or that other busy holiday season? There’s no reason you still can’t take advantage of increased Web traffic and give loyal site visitors something special. Tequila maker Jose Cuervo, for example, relaunched its site for summer, complete with food and drink recipes, party tips, and an amusing interactive game. The Weather Channel offers a tool that allows users to search for local holiday and sporting events by city or Zip Code. Summer site updates are generally far less costly than full-fledged ad campaigns and provide a great excuse to refresh existing content.

Once, the lazy days of summer meant ad campaigns were languid or absent altogether. But if you think there aren’t ad opportunities to be had when the heat is on, you’ve spent too much time in the sun.

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