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Dayparting and PPC: Are you using it right?

When Google Adwords and other Pay Per Click services started to offer time-dependent ad distribution, they called it “Dayparting” as a way to quickly conceptualize the feature. Since then, Day Parting has become a marketing buzzword for many search engine marketing companies.

The problem is that, like many marketing buzz words, it is widely used and poorly understood.

First, what exactly IS day parting? Historically day parting was used as a way to maximize an ad spend in broadcast media (i.e., radio and Television) by only putting ads on when the most people would see an ad that was aired. Radio and TV stations could then charge differential amounts for an ad based on the expected audience that would see an ad at any given time. The ultimate expression of this concept in America is the Super Bowl, where companies will pay huge amounts of money for ads that they know will reach many people.The opposite kind of broadcast Dayparting is late-night infomercials, because they are inexpensive to air but still draw enough of an audience to be profitable for some products.

The problem is that the concept doesn’t translate well, and as a result there are many misconceptions about its use and value. Victims of Dayparting misconceptions broadly fall into two categories: the “superbowlers” and the “day traders”. “Superbowlers” perceive day parting as a way to maximize the number of people who can see your ad and thus drive up business. “Day traders” see day parting as a way to most efficiently get traffic by finding a “sweet spot” where any given click will give a better ROI (We’ll talk about daytraders in another post).

Both views have fallacies, although the “day traders” in the second category are probably closer to doing the right things in PPC word markets.

The “superbowlers” are in trouble, though. Pay per Click is vastly different from broadcast media,and applying broadcast media models to PPC is going to result in very inefficient allocation of resources.

The biggest difference between broadcast marketing and search engine marketing is the ability to measure the effectiveness of advertising. In broadcast marketing the only measurable success anyone can use for advertising is the direct correlation between the number of people who saw a campaign and the increase in sales.

Pay Per Click, in contrast, allows us to measure the actual correlation between a searcher’s interest in a product and their ultimate decision to buy. To put it more simply, just because you put your advertising dollars into the pool when things are the most busy does not mean that those dollars are going to turn into sales. What if the busiest times of day are also the most expensive, and as a result you are actually spending more per sale? What if people at that time are surfing but are less likely to make a decision? Dayparting’s simplistic perspective on traffic misses all of these qualities.

Superbowlers will get more sales if they spend more money in busy times of day, but they will not necessarily get sales at the best cost per acquisition. The next step for them is to move away from a perception of clicks and to start to think about how many of those clicks turn into sales.

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2 Responses to "Dayparting and PPC: Are you using it right?"

  • Pure Visibility - Own Page One » Day Parting and PPC Part II: Its Use and Value
    March 28, 2007 - 5:24 pm Reply

    [...] Day Parting is a growing part of the PPC field, with many systems and tools trying to take advantage of different traffic cycles for particular products and services. There are a lot of misconceptions about what day parting is and how it can be used, but we do believe that it is useful if you keep in mind that the goal for any direct marketing PPC campaign is to lower cost per conversion while increasing or maintaining total traffic. [...]

  • Medo
    March 24, 2009 - 12:35 pm Reply

    Been going nuts trying to figure these two questions out. Any help is much appreciated! thanks

    Is there a way to use Google anayltics to see what parts of the day you have traditionally gotten the most clicks?

    Also, Is there a way to see what times of the day are most competitive (expensive) for a certain keyword?


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