Day Parting - Entering the Digital Space

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 1950 , Published on 07 July 2013

Day parting is a new term in the digital market but it has been there since eras. The term originated in the Television and radio industry. Its original definition was that it was a practice of dividing the day into a no. of smaller divisions, where different type of Television or radio shows can be broadcasted appropriate for that time slot. This was dependent on the kind of audience, the show was targeting. The more the viewership of a show in a time slot, the better is to air that show in that time slot. Similarly, the same concept was applied in the digital advertisement world. Day parting is used to set up the ads to display only at certain times of the day or week. For e.g. if our target audience is online most of the time from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. then it would be more efficient to run the ads during those hours rather than running them throughout the day. This saves the money spent on the display of ads.

The origin of “Day parting” on radio began with the observation by the radio stations that the drive time day-parts were the peak time of radio listeners. So, most of the stations started playing the people’s favorite during these rush-hours to popularize its station. Also, the day-parts were seen as a solution to censorship, whereby certain songs that were not meant for young listeners were allowed to play in the late evenings when the young listeners were not listening. Similarly, this concept went on to become popular on TV. Lately, there were just two or three channels on TV. The Broadcasters had the onus to broadcast different shows meant for different audience, but since there was just one channel, they had to divide the day into different timeslots where shows targeted on a particular audience was broadcasted at a particular time. Take for instance, Doordarshan, which was the only TV channel available in India from 1960s to 1980s. The broadcasters at that time intelligently divided the weekly time slot to broadcast movies on weekends and a series of other shows on weekdays.

The mornings used to see a no. of breakfast shows like rangoli, news hours, subah-savera etc. In the afternoon, Hindi serials meant for house wives were broadcasted. These shows saw typical middle class housewives problems. Then, in the evening cartoons, fun shows and other shows meant for children were broadcasted. Then the time slot of 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. also called “prime time” saw a combination of news shows, fun shows, serials etc. because whole of the family is present during this time slot. This intelligent parting of the day helped the shows to achieve high TRP.

Some other typical e.g. of day-parting can be seen in restaurants and hotels where the snacks sections opens its offerings in the evening only because it is known to them that the snack-eaters come mostly in the evening. Similarly there are frequent trains and some new trains that are run especially during summer holidays when the no. of travelers increase significantly. Government even runs some summer special trains during this time. Taking advantage of intraday fluctuations in traffic value helps the online retailers to increase the efficiency of their pay-per-click (PPC) ad spend.

But is requires close supervision to check the quality of audience as the clicks don’t necessarily mean sale. For this, the ad agencies should first of all look at value and not volume of the traffic. A good measurement for this can be dollars per click or sales per click instead of just the no. of clicks. Secondly, it is important to assure that the click times and order times are from the same time zones.

Thirdly, the sale normally happens one or two days after the click. So, it is important to maintain and observe the cookies window. Also, the sample data that is taken for deciding the day-part should be based on the recent data and should be rechecked from time to time for checking any changes or discrepancies. Also, the data volume should be balanced, neither too less nor too vast. For e.g. a data sample of 5-10 weeks makes more sense than a sample of 1-2 week. Lastly, it is important to make sure to take out holidays and sale events from this sample because these peak periods may cause unordinary rise/change in the results. The data should be passed through a no. of filtering steps to make it appropriate. Thereafter, the ads can be placed in the resulting time slot to obtain maximum efficiency.

This phenomenon is of great importance to various online retailers that capture the audience attention through their online advertisements. Even, Famous Analytics tools are providing support for “Day-parting” where the companies can use this phenomenon to optimize their budget. Although day parting is the way to gain efficiency but not all advertisers can have equally favorable results, what works for one may not work for another. Day parting makes sense for, B2B advertisers for whom customers are online during business hours, E-commerce advertisers who tend to get falsified orders during sleeping hours, Restaurants advertising special meals. Even after so much popularity of day-parting, it is still underutilized by many marketers. This is mainly because of the marketers’ fear of missing out on conversions or revenue if they stop their ads from appearing during certain parts of the day. Although it is a valid concern because this can definitely happen if proper analysis is not completed. But interesting trends can be obtained if we analyze the reported data properly. This powerful tool will then help the marketers to obtain higher marginal profitability.

The article has been authored by Ritu Yadav, IIM Indore


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