Online Advertising Basics: Pros and Cons to Hour Targeting

Ad Operations OnlineOne of the main advantages to using ad servers for your online advertising campaigns 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 Online Advertising Basics topic, as it is entirely depending on the ad server used. What is important to us, digital marketers, is to be aware of this facility ad 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 behavior, active at certain hours.

Let us try to image 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 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 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 (am I the only one with a rather uncomfortable desk chair?)

– It is widely known that web surfers using a dial-up connection will primarily 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 connection) it only makes more business sense to target late hours.

That being said, hour targeting in its narrow, restricted sense, is not always successful. A media planner or an ad trafficker might be tempted to abuse the targeting power of the ad server, only to realize later on that hour targeting is not always a sure way to increase the audience relevancy. For example, a banner for a banking product placed on a business portal would not need hour targeting, as professionals visiting such portals are know to have permanent internet connection at office, at home, or on a mobile device. 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 business hours targeting.

To conclude, hour targeting for online campaigns makes a very powerful and efficient tool, but needs to be performed only after having carefully assessed the surfing and buying behaviors on web sites where we advertise. Most ad servers, free or premium, do have this targeting capability – use it wisely!